Milko Pavlov (Aytos, 1956) is a Bulgarian abstract painter based in Berlin whose primary approach to painting is through color. “I am a colorist, and color knows everything.” In Pavlov’s paintings form, surface, composition, and subject matter develop as a response to paint. His black and white frottage works – a technique he now applies to canvas but which began as graphite works on paper in the late 90’s – are a continuation of the graphic work he made in Bulgaria in the early 90’s. Nonetheless, his recent works on canvas have biographical references that lend his oeuvre a strong personal identity. The artist’s colorful palette derives from his early exposure to 18th and 19th century Bulgarian Icon painters, specifically the Tryavna iconographic school; where he spent time as a child due to his father’s medical practice. In the 70’s, Pavlov shifted his attention towards the icon painters instead of assimilating formal ideas related to the socialist realist aesthetic dominant in Bulgaria at the time. Even though representation is not intentional, the way he organizes space in his paintings and the general composition loosely resemble mountains or landscapes; a subconscious gesture which perhaps illustrates the mountainous nature of his native country. At times, the viewer sees an elusive figure blending into its surroundings.
Milko Pavlov paints places and things we haven’t seen. Environments that can’t be named. He paints the unknown, like an abstract painter does. Pavlov is interested in invisible space; the kind of space that we can’t perceive or see with our material eyes but that, ultimately, exists.
Cy Schnabel, 2022