Iassen Ghiuselev


3 June 1994
Utte Bleich

The jury of Die Zeit and Radio Bremen present:

The virtuosity and perfection of his illustrations throw us into confusion. Whoever sees the drawings of Ghiuselev cannot not suppose that he is savvy, a sly fox. Wrong – a sly fox no, but savvy, yes.

Iassen Ghiuselev – 29 years old exactly – draws with such bravura that the viewer’s breath will stop. The details and the composition reveal an intensive study of the old masters.

A single movement of the body of a beautiful young lady-in-waiting recalls Bernardino Luini’s sketch of a high society gentlewoman, the faces and dress of princes in coats and trousers out of the best fabrics, with coin-decorated berets on their heads are like those whom we know from the paintings of Angelo Bronzino, Lucas van Leyden, Hans Holbein the Younger, Giovanni Belini or Jean Clouet.

The magnificence, the refinement, the grazia, the luxury and the manneristic painting of cinquiccento clearly have fascinated Ghiuselev. Line, colour, nuance, atmosphere – this illustrator masters not only the technique, but also creates a mood. Along with the wonderful portraits, we see studies of animals: a horse in complex movement, birds in flight, dogs, a cat, sheep and more. Every muscle is anatomically exact, but in no sense is it pedantic.

Pictures with such lucency are not created by chance. Ghiuselev studied in arts schools and academies patiently and successfully for a period of 10 years. Since leaving the National Academy of Art in Sofia in 1990, he has been working freelance.

It was the Italians who first understood of his matchless talent – in the manner of Leonardo da Vinci he illustrated wonderful tarot cards for Pietro Aligot in Torino, and illustrated classics along with Karel ńĆapek. At the moment he is working for Aligot on a Pinocchio, whose beauty and brilliance surpasses all that we have so far known as illustration for Collodi’s books. With illustrations for stories of the Brothers Grimm, Esslinger (after its gradiose discoveries like Spirin and Dugin) introduced the Bulgarian artist to Germany.

In two dozen pictures, Ghiuselev commentates and accompanies the story of the king’s three sons who, thanks to the gentleness and unyielding goodness of the “idiot”, fianlly find hapiness. The courtly atmosphere and crude tavern scenes he re-creates in a late Renaissance décor Mythical strength and awe-inspiring beauty beget the large tableaux in the stone castle: animals and men from the enchanted castle are drawn in marbly cold, morbid shades. The riveted movements of the inhabitants of the castle, and along with them the faces of the wondrous kingly guests, living and illuminated with magical light.

It is with white elements that Ghiuselev chooses to aesthetically break up the perfect composition, elements that seemingly forcedly penetrate the harmony of colour and line. In a refined manner he bars and expels us from the idyll, showing the crevices and the fractures: in a formal manner he demonstrates the proximity and remoteness of the fairytales. Consequently, he does not sink mindlessly into the manner of the old masters, but consciously creates contrasts, he reflects upon artistic possibilities and leads the reader towards reflexion. Thus, this is not an eclecticism of taste, but an elegant succession of forms.

These drawings provide more than simply aesthetic pleasure: they lead us to ponderation. In German schools for the arts, it is not uncommon to encounter these days a strange arrogance as concerns “artisanal” brilliance. Here and there, some young artist might show us fascinating possibilities, whose meticulous technique and superstitious desire of composition are hidden in the game. Ghiuselev’s pages radiate like a beautiful garnet to the sometimes bungled sketches of ersatz grandeur in illustated books.

Rhein-Main Press
22 October 1994
Corinne Brodt

Consummate Exactness and Abstration

The Bulgarian Iassen Ghiuselev at Haus des Buches

Rüsselheim. – Rigorous technique and anatomical precision coupled with mysticism distinguish the paintings of the Bulgarian artist Iassen Ghiuselev. Starting Thursday at Haus des Buches, original graphics that Ghiuselev made for the Brothers Grimm’s fairytale Corn will be exhibited. The illustrated books is published by Schreiber Ferlag.

Eleven illustrations incite more than a breeze-through viewing. Every panel in itself affords many discoveries. The not even 30-year-old artist works with the exceptional diligence and meticulousness of the masters of the Middle Ages. There are no lines perfunctorily thrown about with the paintbrush. Every line, every shadow is strategically thought over and is a witness to a detailed study of animal and human. No matter if it is the muscles of a horse, the folds in someone’s clothing or the partings in the hair of a spell-bound figure, Ghiuselev pays attention to the details, because they recount the fairytale as well as does the accompanying text.

Alongside this, the illustrator is not content with simply retelling, but bestows upon his works a quite individual artistic style. White space breaks up the scenes in a mediaeval style. Alienation challenges the seemingly laudatory hymns of the old world of art and creates a particular atmosphere.

The scene when the king’s three sons find themselves in the stone court is impressive; Ghiuselev succeeds in freezing the four stone figures, and yet the royal sons still emit the warmth of the living. Here white bursts suddenly into the scene. How much time and effort is hidden behind these illustrations becomes clearest in the marriage scene. The characters’ posture and the degeneration of their faces demonstrate its merit. The clothing falls softly and supply over the body, with even differences in material visible. In everything, even in the pattern of the wallpaper, which must have been attained with unbounded effort and painstaking sketches with the pen, is clearly seen the high exactingness that the artist holds for himself.

The consummate exactness that co-incides with the abstract requires from the viewer more than just an explorative glance. The reward will be joy in the stylistic images that tell a tale.

Rüsselheim Echo

Pictures with Brilliant Radience
On Iassen Ghiuselev’s illustrations for The Queen Bee

Pictures with unusual beauty are currently on display at Haus des Buches: the graphics of the Bulgarian artist-illustrator Iassen Ghiuselev for the Brothers Grimm’s fairytale The Queen Bee.

In a series of Eastern European illustrators of children’s books that Monika Trapp has been presenting at Haus des Buches, Iassen Ghiuselev is one of the most recent discoveries for the German book market. Familiar for his remarkable drawings, graphics and illustration for children’s books in Italy and in his native Bulgaria, the artist has had just one book published in Germany, and that only as of recent – The Queen Bee. And with this first step he immediately won the Luchs 93, the prestigeous award conferred by Die Zeit and Radio Bremen.

From the very first pages, the professional thoroughness of Ghiuselev’s work makes an impression: stylistically adhering to the tableaux of the late Renaissance masters, he emphasises every minute detail, through to individual lines on the faces, mimicking as well the language of the body, thus giving life to even secondary figures. And his studies of animals nearly tremble from the strength that radiates from them.

He also gives himself over to co-ordination of the art of painting and external arrangement, and above all, to the execution of the negative forms and their abstraction through the ribbons and heraldry that descend into the pictures.

Hans Gärtner

This symbol-full fairytale with surrealist tendencies is well illuminated by a man masterful with the brush, a Bulgarian. He loves to play with silhouettes, for the figure-rich tableaux to be liberated from their frames, and to execute scenes with the picturesque clothing of the Late Middle Ages. The figures with their eloquent mien, together with the impression-making text, remain in the minds of whomsoever who see them.