Within the tradition of Bulgarian art, the name of Mihalis Garudis has been associated with hyperrealism in painting.
This exhibition features about 40 artworks. It has the touch of a retrospective exhibition, as it has on display works belonging to various periods, allowing the viewer to follow the artist’s development as regards his approach to meaning, form and visual quality.
Works featured in the exhibition can be divided into several groups according to theme.
The first group comprises early still lifes – compositions, where the representation of objects is placed within a specific meaningful context. At the beginning of his career as an artist, the artist makes sense of the objects represented on his canvases through philosophical contemplation.
The next group comprises works interpreting the themes of antiquity, heritage, the destructive force of time, and the creative force of the act of striving for freedom. They exude epic monumentality.
The third group of paintings has a recurrent sea motif. For more than three decades, the sea has been an endless source of interpretation for Mihalis Garudis. It is his major theme, also dominating the exhibition in question. In this group of paintings the artist seeks to spot the traces of time, imprinted on what is washed away by the sea, in mankind’s collective memory, in the comparison between the fleeting and the eternal.
The fourth group of works is closely related to the Mediterranean spirit. Over the last years, the artist has created a large number of paintings, featuring the olive tree as a central motif. Undoubtedly, the olive is associated with Greece, yet Garudis interprets it, adopting a cosmopolitan perspective, too. As depicted in his canvases, the olive fosters exotic contemplation, bringing about peace and calm.
All the paintings featured in the exhibition carry the mark of the artist’s signature style. They are characterized by command of form, exquisite line, meaningful composition. Even deformation is subjected to further aestheticizing. For Mihalis Garudis the meaning of art is manifested in the objective, tangible essence of things, the reality, seen through the symbolical layers of virtuosically represented particularity. Among the artist’s signature approaches is the comparison between what exists in reality and what is represented. The nails, ropes, trees, rusty metal fragments, assembled into a collage, complement the meticulously represented objects, prompting the viewer to reach out and touch them. Typically, his paintings are organized around the conflict between real and represented, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, which provokes an optical game.
Mihalis Garudis does not act as a story teller in his tangible-metaphorical paintings. He pays meticulous attention to form, comparing what is represented to the real object, the past to the present, timelessness to transience, letting philosophical contemplation prevail over extreme expression.
The works featured in the exhibition are the ownership of the Sofia City Art Gallery, theNational Art Gallery, the Razgrad Art Gallery, the Strazhitsa Art Gallery, and private collectors.
Mihalis Garudis was born in1940 in the town of Didymóteicho, Greece. He studied painting in Prof. Iliya Petrov’s class at the Academy of Arts, Sofia, graduating in 1965. He has lived and worked in Thessaloniki, Greece since 1986. He works in the fields of monumental arts, painting, collage. His works are the ownership of a number of museums and private collectors in Bulgaria and abroad.