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Having absorbed all colors, the darkness contains all worlds. People are in it, too, and they do not see any colors, any worlds and even themselves until Rembrandt appears to bring them all to light. Rembrandt dips his brush in the seething darkness and brings out the child, the mother, the pupil at his desk, the anatomy students, Flora, the beloved, the bride, the father with the prodigal son, the praying old woman, the reading old woman, Danaë with the shower of gold, the philosopher, the beggars, the dog, the Polish rebel, the conspirators against Rome, Jesus and himself. The world stands before itself. It sees itself for the first time. It thoroughly sees itself so like it is in reality- a glittering vision freed from the darkness. It is the darkness before the child's birth, the darkness before the knowledge, the darkness before becoming Flora, beloved and bride, the darkness of lostness before forgiveness, the darkness of the fear before prayer, the darkness of ignorance before reading the book, the darkness before the gold shower conception and becoming mother, the darkness before getting wise, the darkness before coming to love beggars and their dogs, the darkness before becoming a rebel and conspirator for liberation of your home country, the darkness before seeing Jesus and yourself. You reach yourself together with Rembrandt, who have transformed the darkness in yourself into gold Rembrandt light, and thank him.

Posted by Marlena` Yurukova on 1/9/13 | tags: Art rembrandt Rembrandt painting

20130502075659-self_portrait_13 Kudos, Marlena!
Your Essay is a profound insight into the relationship of the artist to his/her Society. You have poetically pinpointed that the primary purpose of art and artists is to illuminate all aspects of the Human Condition at any given time. Thank you, Marlena!

Fred Holle- The Painter and The Teacher, The Blessed


by Marlena Yurukova for the artist's 80th birthday

6 May 2011

The genius's works are distinguished by the quality that even when they display the meanness, even when they prove and make us feel the inevitable misery of life with obviousness, even when they express the most horrible despair- nevertheless they serve always as a comfort, light up again the enthusiasm, and let they depict nothing else than death, they return the death itself the life that has seemed to be faded for a moment.

Giacomo Leopardi

“The Blessed” is a painting by Fred Holle – the painter and Fine Art teacher who himself has been blessed with a great talent. Regarding the painter's gift as a blessing or a curse in his life, Max Beckman expressed his doubts in his journals and letters. He was not sure if the great talent is a blessing or a curse because as a figurative artist during the times of The World War I and The World War II he was a chronicler of endless tribulations and outrages. As an expressionist painter , he felt and expressed on his canvases any tragedy deeply as a personal experience of his own. And that is a difficult task and a painful experience. The same difficult task - to be “ a chronicler of our Species” (Fred Holle's own words) - has been completing by the great contemporary American painter Fred Holle . Being figurative expressionists and chroniclers of their Species, and being great Fine Art teachers, Fred Holle and Max Beckman are kindred spirits. Yet Fred Holle has not any doubts that it is “ a privilege to be an artist” and he hopes that “he has not betrayed his responsibilities regarding that Blessing”.

In his young years, Fred Holle was an abstract expressionist like the most American artists of that time. His paintings from this period reveal the strong emotions of his young sensitive soul and are creations of his intuition which the artist writes about: I have the greatest faith in intuition and the truth it generates.” The truth that the painter's intuition generates is a poetic symbolic depiction of the mystery of life, youth, and beauty in paintings or black-white woodcuts , the most of them untitled (as there is no title for mystery). Some of them you can view at:

These beautiful works have strong emotional effects on the viewers in the same way as the music evokes strong emotions in sensitive people. These are spontaneous paintings or graphics emerged in the expressionistic manner of action drawing or painting. They are expressions of the young painter's love for life and art. These beautiful abstract symbolic images completed in impasto technique were suddenly replaced by grotesque figurative paintings accomplished in the traditional painting technique of fine sable brushes. Why? The main fine art stream was the one of abstract expressionism. The juries and the audience were prepared to expect and welcome abstract, not figurative art. The painter himself writes that there was the serendipity that led to the birth of “The Gnomegame” and the use of the free hand airbrush technique with acrylic paints, and the emerging of the “Steppenwolf”. (See Fred Holle's blog articles on his Artslant profile on:

I think that besides the serendipity there was something else, something intrinsic to the great painter. It was the painter's knowledge about the truth W. Belinski (Russian art critic, 1811-1848) is talking about:

In art, there is no greater and more fruitful object than the man.”

Art is thinking in images.”

In my view it was the truth and honesty in art Vincent Van Gogh is talking about:

"If I had enough courage to relax freely, the article by Orie (art critic) would encourage me to risk more to get away from reality and do something with colors, something like music tones, such as the works of Monticelli, but the truth is so dear to me and also the strive to remain upright- I think really I do prefer to work with the colors like a shoemaker rather than like a musician. "(an excerpt from Van Gogh's letter from 1890)

Fred Holle's figurative works reveal the enigmatic truth about man by intriguing fantasy and masterful technique . His airbrush approach with acrylic paints synthesizes drawing and painting into one act” (Fred Holle's own statement), and according to M.Vrubel namely this characteristic makes a painting approach to be the best one . Fred Holle's satiric works (Grotesque incidents), his works of fantasy, his drawings, his digital paintings are enigmatic and poetic, romantic and realistic, rich with images, gestures, generalized and individualized. They let the viewers think over the content, the idea and the sense of the art work, to think over themselves. They help people find ways towards themselves. These works have strong impact on viewers' mind and feelings fulfilling so the main objective of art according to J. Reynold's statement. The viewers can find and understand themselves in Fred Holle's paintings , they can find and understand other people's thoughts and feelings. Although Fred Holle's art works are created without preconceiving, there are deep contents and ideas in them conveyed masterfully. So the art works representing “horrible and ugly images” have become beautiful because “Beautiful is only the one that is serious.” (A.P.Chekhov), and the artist “has not betrayed his responsibilities regarding the Blessing” because he has created art works which are and will be always contemporary, vital and serious-  qualities that according to F.M.Dostoevski's view distinguish the true art works.




Posted by Marlena` Yurukova on 5/6/11 | tags: Fred Holle painting abstract 80th birthday of Fred Holle Art painting traditional drawing figurative

20121219201655-me_and_mr_d The blessed
Marlena, What an incredible tribute to Mr. Holle on his 80th year of sharing with us his great talent. Thank you for your commitment and insights!!
Thanks ,I have read and I will read more !Thanks

The young art of three young artists


Shannah Bupp (portrait of Shannah Bupp by M.Yurukova), Smilyana Todorova (portrait of Smilyana Todorova by M.Yurukova) and Osaretin Ugiagbe ( portrait of Osaretin Ugiagbe by Marlena Yurukova) are young. They are artists. They have already been  awarded twice by Artslant. Their art is young. Their togetherness is rooted in their young art.

Young means new, exceptional, new-born, expected eagerly by the others. Their roots are strongly bound in the tradition - Shannah's  - in Egon Shiele's expressive figurative works, Smilyana's -in the innocent world of Franz Marc and Mark Chagal, and Osaretin's - in the traditional and contemporary Nigerian art (Twins Seven Seven), yet the new energy of their boughs is stronger. This young artistic energy creates distinct art works everyone would recognise as Shannah's, or Osaretin's, or Smilyana's. Unseen up to now, appearing uniquely like a new-born child, their paintings contribute  the contemporary art world menaced by the mechanical repetition to become and stay young. So the art world is renewed and enlarged by  Shannah Bupp's portraits of deep psychological depiction, by Osaretin's images of the universal and the  eternal (She and He, Struggle, Soul, This and That world, Science, Creation, Emotions, Faces) and Smilyana's tender and poetic Night flowers , Stranger, Thinking man and horse. These images retain in viewers' memory and soul like ornaments because they are good and round like ornaments . Mikhail Vrubel regarded the good painting as an ornament . It must be like an ornament because it is a creation added to the creation, an ornament to the world, something that inspires and evokes respect and love and is memorised like a melody.

Young means light and abundant like the sun light. Full of light , painted by light and a spring of light  is Smilyana's poetry in images: Flowers in the Night, Untitled 2, Untitled 1, Lonely Tree, The Eye II, The Stranger. Osaretin  throws light ' on Genesis, Creature, Faces , Emotions, She, He, Scientists, This World and That World through vibrations and sparks of light. Shannah Bupp lights the obscure around  her disillusioned characters so that the vital spark can be seen even in their dark eyes and exerted hands: Centipede, Lauren, Matthew, M.R, Fanuelle and the serious faces of herself and the young people she has portrayed.

Young means curious, interested in the world, generous, and empathic. Van Gogh wrote "Art is  the man added to the nature" highlighting the artist's task: to be true to the world  he or she is depicting. Out of their young talent, curiousity and generousity emerge the three artists' creations- true images of man and world, original pictures of universe and eternity touching the essence of life by paint or pencil touches in their own distinct painting style that they have already developed in spite of  their youth. Egon Shiele said: "There is no contemporary art. There is only art, and it is eternal."  And truly, it is not contemporary  the art of Shannah Bupp , Osaretin Ugiagbe, and Smilyana Todorova because it is simply art in harmony with Schiele's understanding about art and eternity.


Marlena Yurukova

Posted by Marlena` Yurukova on 2/3/11 | tags: abstract figurative modern

Vincent, the shoemaker, the sunflowers, and we

in homage to Vincent Van Gogh and the 120th death anniversary of his



He himself wanted to be hardworking and upright in his job like a shoemaker, so maybe therefore he painted shoes, but he painted also sunflowers because he himself was one of them. Like a sunflower he collected the solar fire of love in his heart in order  people to have been able to warm themselves by it until today, 120 years after that July 29 of 1890, although 10 years earlier, in July 1880 , Vincent had written to Theo,


"You can carry a big fire in your soul and no one comes to warm oneself by it; the people passing by see nothing but a little smoke that goes up the chimney, and go further , each of them- one's own way ."


The sunny sunflower fire in his soul was burning for the miners in Borinage, for them- the tormented, he descended into the most dangerous shaft, for them- the forgotten- he faced against the owners of the mines, who "give the jobs to the men thinking like them”, in opposing to them never to be able to get a job from them. There was no job to be given to the man who stretched the sail "Love" on his boat rather than the sail "Greed for money and ambition” (from his letters from November 1881).


"When the greed for money and the ambition in a man are no less than his love, then I think, not everything about this man is in order." (November 1881)


Not everything was in order with these men because “to believe in the existence of a person, they must see this person's means of subsistence, and the existence of that person alone is not a proof to them that the means of subsistence of this person are real." (November 1881)


To show these gentlemen that his means of subsistence existed and he himself existed , too, he had to show them "his artist's paw",


And then we have to use that paw to that extent to which our strength allows us.”(November 1881)


And he used his artist's paw and the sun in his heart more than his strength allowed him, risking his life, in order all people - rich and poor, hard-working and idle, to be able to understand what painting is, to understand that,


"The figure of a digger- some furrows in the field, a view to the sands, the sea and the sky- are serious subjects , yet so difficult, but so beautiful that it is worth pledging your life to transmit the poetry that is hidden in them.” (August 1882)


And later people would not only see and understand this poetry, but also would not be able to imagine their world without it, in the same way as they could not imagine their life without love, which in November 1881 Vincent wrote about,


"To live without love is immoral and sinful."


Vincent believed that life ” in the flesh” was truer and more important than the life “in pictures”, to bear children -more important than to “bear” pictures. Maybe therefore he praised so highly the "rough, rural realism”. He did not “embark” on dreams and abstractions, and worked like a digger,  a reaper, or  a peasant, in the open fields, and his paints blended with sand, and his paintings were blown by the stormy winds in the same way as the farm workers were exposed to natural disasters. Yet in this way, paintings “in flesh” were born. Paintings, from which the nature itself speaks to us. Paintings that show us who the Creator is, and that connect us again to Him in flesh and spirit.



"It is wonderful to watch an object, to begin to like it, to meditate on it, and to hold it in your mind, and then to say to you, it is that what I will draw, and then to draw it until it itself stands in front of yourself." (1882)


And they are standing in front of us: the women-miners carrying bags of coal in Borinage, Cien with her daughter, the digger, the blossoming almond orchards of Arles, the olive groves of Provence, the postman Roulen, father Tangui. The crooked shoes are in front of us: "in flesh”, full of spirit and character. In front of us are the sunflower heads- light and powerful- like the "artist's paw" that painted them.


Not abstractions, no dreams, no nightmares, no fairy tales, but the things of life in flesh and full of character and spirit, are looking at us and speaking to us from the paintings of Vincent.


"If you do want to do something everlasting you have to work as peasants do and with the same humility."


"What I have done is a little bit rough and raw realism compared to their abstractions, but there is some rural flavour and smell of the earth in my work ..."


Our duty is to think, not to dream. These reveries are like dreams or nightmares. They evoke in me the painful feeling of a failure, not of a progress.”

(November 1889)


"If I had enough courage to relax freely, the article by Orie (art critic) would encourage me to risk more to get away from reality and do something with colours, something like music tones, such as the works of Monticelli, but the truth is so dear to me and also the strive to remain upright- I think really I do prefer to work with the colours like a shoemaker rather than like a musician. "(1890)


This was exactly the thinker-shoemaker, not the dreamer-abstractionist who created the music of the starry night, the song of the ripe grain, the poetry of the delicate cypresses and the far mountains. He created them with the spirit of the man in love with life and people, a worker with an artist's paw in his modest studio, away from the noise and gossip, a man who was longing for fraternity between artists.


Another spirit reigned among the artists at earlier times, now they devour each other and have become eminent gentlemen who live in villas and make intrigues.” (1887)


Vincent had  this spirit of fraternity and spread it to the other artists. He has been spreading this spirit up to now, and in 1890 he had no doubt it would be so because he wrote to Theo:


“Do you know what I often think about? About something I told you earlier- even if I do not succeed, yet I do believe that the thing I have worked for will be taken over by other people. Not directly, but a man who believes in truth is not alone.”


No, Vincent is not alone, because countless people have lived with his truth – shoemakers and artists alike.


Marlena Yurukova

Posted by Marlena` Yurukova on 7/29/10 | tags: realism Vincent Van Gogh traditional painting realism traditional painting realism traditional figurative modern

20130502075659-self_portrait_13 Inspiring!
Your beautiful tribute to Vincent has regenerated my spirit and refueled my enthusiasm. I read those wonderful letters years ago (DEAR THEO) and lent my well-worn copy to a student of mine (who never returned it). You’ve motivated me to replace my lost copy immediately. Many thanks, Fred
Malvina_kindergarten What a fantastic essay.
You could not put a better homage. Very moving and true.

Painters' anniversaries , year 2010

In the year 2010 we, the artists of today, should mark the anniversaries of the artists not of yesterday but of eternity:

They all have either death or birth anniversary in 2010.

Smilyana gallery - invites artists to create art works in homage to the above artists.

Egon Schile wrote: "There is no contemporary Art. There is only Art, and it is eternal". The online exhibition at Smilyana Gallery presents art works dedicated to the above artists of eternity under the item "Anniversaries":

"Homage to Vincent Van Gogh", the first painting for this exhibition, was created on July 14, 2010 by Ervin Chandler. So this painter has connected his name with the name of Vincent Van Gogh now and for ever . This masterpiece of Ervin Chandler is to be seen on:


The art works should be sent to



Posted by Marlena` Yurukova on 7/15/10 | tags: Art Marc Chagal Giorgione Boticelli painters Van Gogh egon schiele Modigliani painting

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