MARIA DIMITROVA – KALACHLAOGLU BARAZ The Istanbul Fairytale of a Talented Bulgarian Woman

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Maria is a fine, delicate and decisive woman in the prime of her maturity. In her eyes still flare youthful audacity that sometimes overflows into children's crudity and simplicity. Her beautiful outlook hides a rich and more beautiful soul, unbroken by the vicissitudes of the fate. True to her Bulgarian roots Maria sincerely fell in love with Turkey and with the people there because of their warm cordiality with which they welcome her talent and her dedication to the art. She defines herself as a kind of spiritual bridge between the two cultures which profoundly influenced her work as an artist. She does not hide the fact that her life is a dream come true, her Istanbul fairytale that she writes alone with a lot of faith and love on the pages of her own life. Communication with a person like her brings joy and enriches. You will assure yourself alone in the following lines:
Do you accept your gift to create beauty as a gift inherited from your father, the sculptor Dimitar Dimov, or you think it is an expression of your deepest essence?

The name of my father for me is not a burden but a source of inspiration and commitment to what I do. The hereditary gene of a talent like my father is the foundation, but I imposed my own style in my work without looking for comparisons. I compete only with myself and there is no repeatability in my sculptures. They are a result of emotions in my daily life and an outward expression of my spiritual condition. The time in which my father had worked and the time I am working in now are fundamentally different and incompatible. Each one has its pros and cons. In the past the states was ordering and was investing in fundamental monuments, and now are being built malls and offices, as increasingly less attention is paid to the art as all. I have to adapt to the modern conditions and to invest in my art; later I have to seek for some collectors who will appreciate my art and will pay for it to go give me a chance to go ahead. Independently of all these conditions and the time in which we work, every artist struggles for immortality of his work.

What are the messages that you are weaving into your art work?

We live in a time of information flow and strong competition. It looks like everything is already done. My priority is even after 100 years my art to look as modern and close to the people as it is now. So I choose topics related to flora and fauna. The nature is the greatest and unrepeated creator. The artist with his own handwriting refracted it through the prism of his or her personal perceptions and then perpetuated it. My message is to make the world a better place for living, to cherish and to protect natural resources; to be a little more positive and responsible. Art is the language of the universe, a cosmic communion between the souls and we, the artists, are the relationship between the man, the mystique and the mystery.

The story of your success as an artist is a series of painful and stellar moments and in that line of thinking do you think that the price you’ve paid for your success is too high?

The real, the high art is created only by those whom God has set for it. Maria is not just a name, it's a destiny. My life was difficult. I have always fought for my place under the sun. I’ve passed through many trials, but they did not desperate me at all, and I even became more motivated to succeed in my mission. Just like Alice in Wonderland. I believe in the power of art. It lasts forever! So my efforts are directed toward this aim. To be Maria Dimitrova - Kalachlaoglu undoubtedly is a difficult cross. I've always felt myself close to God and that feeling had hooked me.

If you could start your life over again, would you choose to live it the same way, or you would change some things in it?

The biggest gift that the Lord has given us is the art and for me it is great. My attitude to the world is changing that world. I'm here and that fact itself alone means that there's a reason for that, whether now I know it or do not, so I would not change anything at all.

It seems that the child in you is still alive and has retained the ability to enjoy life quite frankly, so it will be interesting for us to learn what are the dreams and the desires of that child?

Like all the people around I enjoy the same simple things in life, but the artist in me idealize them and turns them into a fairy tale. Through my art I tell the people, "Do not stop dreaming!" because world around us is the one we’ve created according to our desires. Dreams are the fuel that pulls us forward on the path toward the positive change in our lives. They are the ones that give us the strength, the will and the reason to go on when we are the most difficult times of our lives. In a larger scale my dream is for there wouldn’t be any wars, hunger, disease, envy, jealousy, malice. For myself and for my family I pray for health, because everything else can be fixed up. It is quite important to have dreams, but it is more important to have the courage to realize them.

Is it difficult to work with metal and why did you choose it to recreate creative searches?

Working with metal is actually a very difficult thing. It is required to proven skills and a good team. I work with wax and then together with the molders. The most important thing is to be established an energy magic between us and then we together to give a birth to some masterpieces. For me there are only three materials that can be used for making immortal sculptures - bronze, stone and wood. I would like to try other materials, but it always requires a lot of resources. Along with my sculptor’s work I am a painter too and I have many paintings in private collections and museums around the world.

Where and in what you are finding your inspiration to create all this beauty?

When someone keeps a light in his soul he finds inspiration even in the imperfection. Everything in the world was created perfect, but imperfection comes from our mind. Nature helps me to recharge my emotional batteries. Sea birds, flowers, sky - all this is an inexhaustible source of joy and inspiration. Beauty is in everything around, but we must to have eyes to be able to appreciate it. "All the best is invisible to the eye" so we must learn to see with our souls.

It is well known that you are the founder of the small sculptures in Turkey and what is more important – you’ve taken this mission from your position as a woman, who except her outer beauty has a strong will and fighting spirit. How difficult was that beginning for you? From the standpoint of our days did that choice take off more of you or it gave you much?

When I opened my first exhibition of small sculptures in 1989 no one talk of that kind of art in Turkey. The small sculptures even had frightened people because they were accepted as an attribute of black magic. The exhibition was visited by a lot of intelligent people and they had liked my work, but there were no enthusiastic, passionate supporters. Then I realized that if my desire was the sculpture to enter this country, my job will be 15 times harder than it would be anywhere elsewhere in the world. My mission was to make people love my art and I did it. I’ve laid too much effort, but my reward is the admiration in the eyes of the people.

You’ve got more than 70 solo exhibitions and participations in over than 400 exhibitions behind you. What is the brightest and the most exciting memory associated with your performance in public space?

Each of my public events is quite exciting for me, but the premiere of my book "Maria" is between the most emotional creative moments in my life. The book has gained a whole life dedicated to the art and the development of sculpture in Turkey. Along the time will be published some more books related to the art of Cleo, but the first one is the most valuable for me. I enjoyed the fact that many covers and pages of books are designed with photos of my sculptures and paintings, which shows that all expressions of art have to correspond with each other and their contribution to be involved in the unity of art. Music, painting, theater, poetry are interrelated forms of art and they all form the aesthetic values of the society in which we live.

You're a kind of spiritual bridge between the Bulgarian and Turkish culture. What are the important things in Turkish culture and art that can be used as good examples for Bulgarians, and are there any valuable things in Bulgarian culture that would serve as a good example of our neighbors?

I had two very exciting events that I want to tell you for. The first of them had involved the students and teachers of film schools in the countries of Southeast Europe. Project Manager was Bulent Kyuchyukerdogan from the University of Culture in Istanbul. My participation in this project is very important for me because I it allows me to reveal how successfully I realize myself in Turkey and to show my position in the culture of that society. Other event in that direction was the exhibition of contemporary Turkish artists titled "21 artist of the 21st Century", which is part of events related to the Project "Istanbul - European Capital of Culture 2010". The cultural initiative was realized in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey according to the project of the renowned artist Prof. Devrim Erbil and established artists of Turkish art. The message of the exhibition, which included 41 paintings, was associated with the pursuit for expansion of the cultural dialogue, exchange of ideas and creative messages between artists from the two neighboring countries. As whole the exhibition is quite valuable and interesting. "21 artist of the 21st century" - this is a blitz picture of contemporary Turkish art. The idea belongs to Professor Devrim Erbil and the purpose was to show the world trends in contemporary Turkish art. The exhibition will visit other countries, but the first place is in Bulgaria - not only because it is a neighboring country, and because of some sentimental reasons - Professor Erbil and three other artists were born in Bulgaria. Another meaningful expression of the idea is a bronze bust of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which I had donated in 1993 to the Turkish Embassy in Sofia and which is still welcoming the guests of the residence.

Do you have between your works a special one that means much for you and what makes it so valuable?

For me all works are like my children – they all are dear to my heart, but the "Mask of MALA" has a great sentimental value for me. In my most difficult moments when I was alone in my life came a dog - kokershpaniol. I called her Sissy. For me it was cosmic and she stayed close to me for seven years. When she died, I experienced one of the greatest tragedies in my life. Sissy was everything to me - assistant, daughter, vent, the most favorite being with whom we talked and struggled in life. When we are suffering in there is a great solitude, concentration, humility and our sensory channels are opened widely to space. On the second or the third day after Sissy had left me, I had a strange dream: I walk into my friend's house and see three gorgeous sculptures. I asked who had made these miracles. "Malla" - replied my friend. While I was wondering who this woman is, I saw my puppy sitting on a pillow with an old man beside who looks like an alien. He said: "We go to people who are in need, and we stay with them 7 years. Sissy now will go elsewhere." Then I saw her as a girl. At this time entered Malla. With black hair, long black dress, great cars, I saw her goddess. I’ve approached and tried to kiss her hand because she had made all these divine things for me. At this moment heaven choirs start singing: "Gods decided you to be Malla." And I woke up. Since then I was constantly looking for who is Malla. 10 days before the publishing of the book dedicated to me, the author called me and she told that accidentally had found a book by Iranian author who writes about the Assyrians. In the book was mentioned that they had a big town with four goddesses, and one of them - the goddess of secrets was precisely Malla. Later I had sculpted the head of the goddess. Her eyes - charming blue aquamarines are the legacy of my father. One day in Sofia my brother brought them to me in a matchbox. The small plastic with the blue eyes like the sky is now the cover of my book. I did not create anything, I retrieve. I know that everything is planned. We're just the ones who have to do it.

Your husband, Mr. Yahshi Baraz is one of the biggest names in contemporary Turkish art. Is it important for a lady like you, especially when she is an artist to have the support of the man beside her?

Mr. Yahshi Baraz really is one of the biggest names in contemporary Turkish art. In the gallery Baraz is collected the history of Turkish and world art in many books, card-indexes, paintings and sculptures. With Yahshi we complement each other and each of us has its own mission in art. As many rich men I've ever had in my life, nobody was handing me out any checks. Yahshi did not make it too. He says it's a shame because I am a professional and have to cope myself alone. The third book that Yahshi had published is devoted to me, which says a lot about our relationship.

How would you finish the sentence: "Art is ...."?

Art is my life. It is able to brighten the existence of all the people around, to make it colorful and beautiful. It is that common language of the Universe, which is understood without any functional verbal communication. Art is the bridge of wholeness. A bridge that humanity walks on, communicate; a bridge, on which meet each other and unite in one quite different cultural communities. Art is the ability to change people with your work, to see things as real as they are and then to create stories, images and interactions. We often take from the past to enrich our present - the constant circle of life!

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