Who is the Bulgarian artist from the American Soho, who has worked with Kunst, Kostabi, Amy Winehouse, and Drake? He is called the „boutique artist,“ a favorite among the elites both in Bulgaria and abroad. Always waiting for the right time to appear before an audience of his choosing. Bulgaria welcomes him for the second time in the last year to present his new exhibition „Color and Form“ at the Vivacom Art Hall from December 8 to 17, starting at 6:30 PM.
Known in the art scenes of New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Milan, Tokyo, Mexico, and Peru, Riv Bulgari’s roots draw him to Bulgarian admirers of painting and sculpture, leading them on a tempting journey through the realm of imagination, in the embrace of revelation and uniqueness, gaining their own color and form.
Who is he? After 30 years in the global art scene, Riv Bulgari, whose birth name is Radoslav Ivanov, returns to Bulgaria with his second exhibition. Born in 1966 into a family of an artist and choreographer near the National Palace of Culture, Riv Bulgari’s story is James Bond-like, incredible, and inspiring. It involves action with shootouts, escaping abroad with only $200 in his pocket and a passport, love at first sight, and astonishing art. How did the young artist and sculptor become a successful graphic designer, film, music producer, and businessman in the Land of Unlimited Opportunities, earning the title of „one of the most remarkable and creative artists of the 21st century“?
Growing up in his father’s studio, the artist Ivan B. Ivanov, until the age of 15, he explored various techniques, from painting, wood engravings, lithography, drypoint, aquatint, sculpture, ceramics, dry and wet frescoes to murals and collages. He created numerous portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and figurative compositions. He won the first prize for children’s drawing from the French Cultural Center in Sofia and the first prize from the Lenin District of Sofia, Bulgaria.
„I am fortunate that my father is an artist and has preserved many things over the years, up to my time in Europe when I lived in Germany and my time in Canada and Mexico, where I also lived. In the upcoming exhibition, there will be artwork from the time I spent in Japan as well.“ Among them is his drawing made at the age of 7 months, where we discover the style of Jean-Michel Basquiat. „I was amazed at myself. If you see it too – it’s 1 to 1 with Basquiat,“ laughs Riv Bulgari.
In the epicenter of contemporary art – Soho in the USA, Riv Bulgari begins his career with initial steps as an assistant artist. He refines the style of Mark Kostabi and organizes the painting of his artworks, which Mark merely signs. He also becomes acquainted with Jeff Koons, for whom he organizes the creation of some of his sculptures, one of which is sold for 187 million US dollars. He collaborates with LA2, who, along with Keith Haring, brings street graffiti into Manhattan galleries. For a period of one year, he lives and works with the Canadian artist David Nicholson. He participates in numerous group exhibitions and spends some of his free time in the studios of photographer Annie Leibovitz, Japanese photographer Go Hotoda, and his first wife Hiromi Nakan.
„Women Play Golf“ „I have destroyed my own works that I did not want to be bought, simply because I did not like them,“ he shares openly. He travels extensively in the USA and Latin America, meeting his idols – not only Koons and Kostabi but also names like Jon Bon Jovi, Placido Domingo, and many others. „My experience shows that more successful people connect more easily with strangers because they are interested in encountering something new.“ Not audio-visual and not overly conceptual. Not an illustration. It is an escape from figurativeness and the landscape we can see on every phone. It is abstract. It is encoded in images and visions that grab a person suddenly and make them see other things from within. This is characteristic of Riv Bulgari’s style. He has created realistic, life-sized sculptures for the Japanese sculptor Michio Ishihara and figures for Madame Tussaud’s museum in Manhattan. He calls himself „versatile underdeveloped“ in various fields, from directing to documentary film production („Unknown Peru“) and music management to real estate business. Thus, he managed to create a urban music studio chain from a basement studio, where stars like Amy Winehouse and Drake recorded, called The Sound City! Among his most famous works are „Big Time,“ „Circle of Life,“ „Guelagueza,“ „Dolce & Gabbana,“ „The Girl with a Watermelon,“ some of which were exhibited in his first exhibition in Bulgaria in 2008 – at the Sofia Opera, entirely with works created in New York in 2017. Together with Dominique Nahas, he publishes the book „The Thin Line“ in 2017. In the period from 2018 to 2021, Riv Bulgari travels the world. He participates in numerous group exhibitions in Brooklyn, New York. He creates collaborative paintings with American artists, subsequently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Brooklyn, New York. He continues to work actively in his studios in Bulgaria, Slovenia, and the United States, creating paintings with imagery and vibrant colors. They encapsulate his view of life and his daily personal experiences.
„The Family Jewel“ What you will see is part of a journey from the exploration of the author to various combinations of color and form. The artist is excited and provoked by the cycle of recreation in his imagination and its materialization in the physical world. He delicately and attentively leads our curiosity and feelings towards his universe of fantasies. And now he will welcome you to the Vivacom Art Gallery from December 8 to 17, 2023, starting at 6:30 PM, to give you the opportunity to enjoy a selected collection of mesmerizing artworks. Within the physical boundaries of this space, you will be drawn into a fantastical universe, and the abduction will be seamless and even secretly desired! From mysterious imagery, enticing with shapes and colors, transcending the boundaries of the mundane, Riv Bulgari’s art fully commits to the plan of escaping from the worldly, the deferral of everyday life, and journeying beyond physical logic. It establishes new rules where color and form are expressed in countless configurations, leaving the feeling of an inexhaustible source of imagination and excitement from playing with it.
„The Girl with the Watermelon – Marina“ We meet Riv Bulgari in the Vivacom Art Gallery, embracing his humor and his whimsical world, inviting us with a smile to explore his art through joy and amusement, through a sense of hope, through the challenge of the child within us. And behind all these explorations, reactions, emotions, amidst the path of this fantastical universe, stands an unequivocal dissection of color and form, boldly collected from the world in which we live.
The plots playfully flirt with our imagination!
„Color and Form“ is a celebration of delightful caprices, in the form of whimsical sculptures, paintings, and drawings that invite spectators to engage in an enchanting dance of fantasy. Perhaps you will be charmed and even shocked, but trust! Immerse yourself in a captivating experience that will make you smile and turn you into admirers and collectors of a fantastical universe of „Color and Form.“ Let your imagination be seduced by endless possibilities and start a dangerous liaison with an aesthetically presented adventure. There, where shapes may tease you with whispers and flirtation, with courage and decisiveness, but also with responsibility behind their identity and gratitude. Fall in love with the richness of the different.
Will you succumb to its charm, or will you blindly trust it, will you withstand its call…? Certainly, you will feel the expansion of your own horizons, embracing captivating creations of „color and form,“ presented with irresistible charm in the seductive embrace of Riv Bulgari.