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Valentin Stefanoff

First of all, I would like to thank the organizers for their invitation for me to participate in the online Symposium PRINTMAKING AT/BEHIND THE EDGE.

I would like to begin by introducing myself with a few words.

I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and after graduating from the National Academy of Fin Arts in 1985, my artistic interests were drawn towards graphic arts as a medium of expression. In the following 10 to 15 years, I participated in dozens of international biennials, salons, and competitions for graphic arts. As a guest teacher, I have organized a number of workshops in Sofia, Thessaloniki, Dijon, New York, etc.
Since 1995, I have lived and worked in Paris, France. From the last years of the previous century until today, my interest has been focused more on conceptual art, such as video, art installations, photography, and art objects. Besides my individual shows, I have also taken part in many joint projects with Nina Kovacheva in public and museum spaces in France, China, Taiwan, Germany, England, Poland, Austria, and Bulgaria. Despite the wide spectrum of media that I use as an artist, graphic arts has remained my first love.


V. Stefanoff, Vestige, 1992, mixed media, 36x20 cm
V. Stefanoff, The Guillotine, The Physique of Freedom, installation
V. Stefanoff, Organon, 2011, photography, 120x170 cm x 6, Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Saint Étienne

Graphic arts came about to popularize ideology and aesthetics of making art accessible to a wider circle of people. Over time, the technical side of the printing process has improved, and more and more artists are using graphic arts techniques as a medium of expression. In the second half of the 20th century, with the boom in graphic biennials and other international forums for printing arts, graphic arts reached its zenith. Phototransfer of images onto stone or metal tiles began to be used with increasing frequency. Mixing graphic techniques and going outside the framework of classical techniques, experimentation as a form of modernizing graphic arts is observed and tolerated more and more at exhibitions. A logical continuation of this process is digitalization and new printing technologies. Computer graphics found its place, and after a short resistance, it has been acknowledged and included as a technique in most graphic arts biennials. New forums that are limited to only digital printing have also appeared. This brings up many questions, such as those regarding circulation and distribution, market price and value, classical academic education, artists’ copyrights, and defense against unauthorized distribution. The improvement in technology for digital printing and the possibility of printing in large formats and on different media, with perfect quality, at a low price and great speed, is tempting for the art market.
Has digitalization dealt a death blow to classic graphics, perhaps weary from technology? The young generation of artists living with the dynamics of the new age are faced with a dilemma – faster and easier expression through the computer, or the slower and more difficult process of the traditional techniques in graphic studios, which require time, patience, and technological knowledge.
The democratization of art in the times in which we live, its extraction from the galleries, salons, and biennials, and its exhibition on the street and in nontraditional spaces rearranges the layers of perception.
These facts lead, at first glance, not to a closer relationship between analogue and digital in printing, but rather to their estrangement, to the elitizing of the one and the minimalizing of the other.
On the other hand, the lack of financing leads to a decrease in the quantity and the quality of graphic biennials, especially in the countries of Eastern Europe, until recently the center of graphic arts, which has now moved eastward. China is shaping into a new center for graphic biennials and different forums for graphic arts.
The documenting, advertising, and distribution of information is increasingly passing from traditional paper means to digital images uploaded on websites. We are witnessing entire catalogues, exhibitions, and biennials online, often times accompanied by discussion forums.
The dynamics of the time require new, hybrid forms – that is, crossing the boundaries between different genres of fine arts, both in terms of the visual and the technological. Mastering and using the new technologies in combination with the classical ones affords a richer possibility for expression, including in the graphic arts.
And who will choose what and how they will contrive to combine all of the already familiar technologies – traditional and contemporary – is a question of each artist’s individual choice.

Valentin Stefanoff
Paris / September / 2020

Valentin Stefanoff (1959, Sofia, Bulgaria), studied at the Sofia Art School and subsequently at the National Academy of Fine Arts Sofia where he graduated in 1985. His works cover the fields of photography, drawing, printmaking, painting, objects, video and video installations. Between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Stefanoff focused on printmaking. With his first participation in The International Print Biennial Varna, he was awarded the First Prize. After 1995, Stefanoff’s focus shifted to installations, videos, photographs, and objects. He works with materials such as plexiglass, wax, glass, and metal. His works often rely on the interplay between ghostly transparency and physical density contingent on the shadows thrown over the objects. Sound and text are also a key component of his art. Stafanoff's artistic career also includes a fruitful cooperation with Nina Kovacheva, his spouse, especially with video and video installations in public and museum spaces. Their collaborative works are signed as ninavale. For the installation 'In the Out', at the 4th Biennial of Contemporary Art 2002 in Cetinje, Montenegro, NINA Kovacheva and Stefanoff were awarded the UNESCO annual prize for art. Stefanoff's works are included in the following permanent collections: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Albertina collection Vienna, Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Musée d'art moderne (Saint-Étienne) France, European Investment Bank Luxembourg, National Art Gallery, Bulgaria, The City Art Gallery-Sofia. He has lives and works in France. More


V. Stefanoff, Sometimes Closed is more Open than Open and Open is more Closed than Closed, 2000, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade
V. Stefanoff, Open Closed, 1999, mixed media on plexi glass

V. Stefanoff, N. Kovacheva (ninavale), Wet Contact, 2002, video, 30'



Graphic Collective Gallery, Dragoslava Jovanovića 11, Belgrade, Weekdays 12 - 20h, Saturdays 12 - 17h, Sundays closed
tel: +381.11.3285.923; tel/fax: +381.11.2627.785