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"Project Series 34: Iva Gueorguieva" Opens at the Pomona College Museum of Art

“Project Series 34: Iva Gueorguieva,” an exhibition of two large-scale abstract paintings and accompanying drawings, will be on view from Oct. 27 through Dec. 16, 2007, at the Pomona College Museum of Art. An opening reception will be held at the Museum on Saturday, October 27th from 5-7 p.m. Iva Gueorguieva will present a public lecture about her work on Monday, November 5th, at 3 p.m.

Iva Gueorguieva’s Olympia and The Dead Matador (both 2007) bristle with energy and seethe with color, movement, line, and imagery. Shedding the post-modern cool of the past, both paintings teem with emotion and drama—anxiety, exuberance, tension, and turbulence fill the canvases. Olympia and The Dead Matador—created specifically for the exhibition at the Pomona College Museum of Art—represent the fullest expression of her painting to date.

For Gueorguieva, painting consists of emotive and sensuous experiences framed in a conceptual and philosophical structure. For almost ten years she has painted strikingly beautiful abstract canvases with a foreboding undercurrent of agitation and drama. Grounded in a firm grasp of modern art history, philosophy, and contemporary painting, her interests center around the absurd, the grotesque, caricature, and the universal conditions of humanity: beauty, sex, violence, death.

For Gueorguieva, painting is a profoundly personal experience. She is also deeply invested in the history and practice of painting. Like Romantic artists of the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, Gueorguieva responds to the sublime and the gothic. And like her Romantic predecessors, her work takes an expressionistic and dramatic form, reflecting her emotional and psychological state of mind.

Gueorguieva finds herself drawn to artists who successfully linked concepts of the absurd and uncanny with virtuosic painterly technique: Honore Daumier, George Grosz, Otto Dix, James Ensor, and Francisco Goya are all sources of inspiration with their powerful artistic expressions of raw emotion. She also admires their ability to create aesthetically powerful images that highlight contradiction, satire, and horror.

Another core influence is the 19th-century painter Edouard Manet, who is often credited as one of the first artists to shift modern art towards a representation of the reality of the everyday world. Gueorguieva studied Manet in depth in graduate school, and came to feel an affinity in the way he handled paint, how he dealt with color, and his choices of subject matter. Gueorguieva titled her Olympia of 2007 after Manet’s iconic Olympia of 1863 to honor his attack on 19th-century bourgeoisie mores and sensibilities. Like the confident courtesan boldly confronting proper society in Manet’s painting, the forthright, unapologetic imagery in Gueorguieva’s painting represents an attack on the complacency of the 21st century. And while Manet’s The Dead Toreador (1864) is bloodless and immobile, Gueorguieva’s Dead Matador is brightly colored, tempestuous, and physical. Both of Gueorguieva’s powerful images confront us directly, while simultaneously engaging the history of art and the traumas of contemporary life.

“Project Series 34: Iva Gueorguieva” is the 34th exhibition in the Project Series. Organized by Museum Curator Rebecca McGrew, the Project Series presents Southern California artists in focused exhibitions. The purpose of the series is to bring to Pomona College art that is experimental and that introduces new forms, techniques, or concepts. During each exhibition, participating artists spend time on campus working with faculty and students in relevant disciplines. The Project Series is supported in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance and Pomona College Museum of Art Advisory Committee member Sarah Miller Meigs.

The Pomona College Museum of Art is located at 330 N. College Avenue, Claremont. The Museum is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (909) 621-8283 or visit the museum’s website at www.pomona.edu/museum.

The Pomona College Museum of Art collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets works of art. The Museum houses a substantial permanent collection as well as serving as a gallery for the display of temporary exhibitions. Important holdings include the Kress Collection of 15th- and 16th-century Italian panel paintings; more than 5,000 examples of Pre-Columbian to 20th-century American Indian art and artifacts, including basketry, ceramics, and beadwork; and a large collection of American and European prints, drawings, and photographs, including works by Francisco de Goya, José Clemente Orozco, and Rico Lebrun.