Vo.4 YANA DIMITROVA in Conversation with Conor McGrady, June 20, 2020

In this video, Conor McGrady from Ireland interviews New York-based painter YANA DIMITROVA about the social role of the visual arts.

Yana walks us through the recent portrait works of her family and neighbors as a way to share their often emotional life stories. The current Black Lives Matter movement inspired Yana to take part in local protests with her friends and colleagues to demand social justice. This firsthand experience has shown Yana that the strategy by which social movements achieve their goals is the same kind of creative thinking artists use in their work. Following the examples of Angela Davis' writings and Agnès Varda's films, Yana strives to reach out and empower people through her paintings.

YANA DIMITROVA (b.1983 Yambol, Bulgaria)

Yama Dimitrova is a classically trained painter informed by contemporary theory and practice. Her work explores the interplay between artist, subject and viewer. Yana's work is a conduit of her life as an immigrant and an artist – ideas around arriving and leaving behind, family and culture. Painting is a universal voice that can empower human experience and provide a sense of universality. “I hope to build onto the capacity of painting as a social medium, whilst creating a platform for interpersonal and collective agency.”

Parallel Portrait 1, 2019, 55 x 70. oil on linen © Yana Dimitrova

Yana spent time with her family, friends and neighbors in Bulgaria and her current base in Brooklyn, conversing, enquiring and connecting. The work conveys a sense of place and people described lovingly and longingly. By including fragments of stories and the emotional charge of conversations exchanged, Yana weaves together the multi-faceted complexity of human memory and incorporate themes of struggle, empowerment and interpersonal relationships.

Untitled, 2019, 48 x 60 in. oil on linen © Yana Dimitrova

Yana Dimitrova is a Brooklyn-based artist, working primarily in painting and installation. She is also a part-time Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design in New York. She is currently working on a practice-based PhD project at LUCA School of Arts/KU Leuven in Belgium, with focus on painting and community empowerment. Yana lives in New York City with her husband Sebastian and furry friend Mimi. Please also check her recent curatorial project TOUCH.

Walking Through a Pathway, 2019, oil on linen, 10 × 12 in © Yana Dimitrova