Our good friend Julia Stankova's works nearly bring us to tears each time we visit her in her apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria. Their aesthetic beauty captures our hearts in a way no other artistic creations do, moving our spirits to revel in their beauty.
Julia was born in 1954 in Haskovo, Bulgaria, and raised in Sofia. At the age of 13, she began taking private lessons in drawing and painting in order to apply to the National Academy of Fine Arts six years later.
Due to the political situation in Bulgaria at the time, she was not given a chance to follow this path, and had to become a mining engineer instead (MA, Mining and Geology University, Sofia, 1978), practicing in this capacity for 12 years. Despite this, she never abandoned her idea of becoming an artist and when the democratic changes happened (1989), she could at last return to her real interest.
Her first step in this direction was to start working in a private restoration studio run by friends. There she had the opportunity to closely observe and touch Bulgarian icons from the 18th and 19th centuries. The purity of feeling radiating from these icons inspired her to start studying the biblical texts and the philosophical principles of the Byzantine pictorial system. Her interest in this subject led her to study theology (MA, Sofia University, 2000).
Later, when she left the restoration studio, she was already mastering the technique of icon-painting on wooden surfaces. She started to develop a kind of symbolic art supported by her knowledge of the Byzantine pictorial heritage, on the one hand, and her emotional attraction to the biblical texts, on the other.
Art scholar Ivan Dodovski said of her works: "I am convinced that the icons of Julia Stankova will inspire real debates, because -- as every great art -- they are apparent and fundamental provocation. They are not works-copies, made in the shadow of the museum-determined Byzantine icon painting; entirely following its canonical-dogmatic principles. These works are the witness of the freedom of creation. They are also proof, peculiar remembrance, that the artistic language of Byzantium is not a metaphor or lamenting for the lost, but a trans-historical perspective."