Installation Views

Press Release

Does the seashell suffer when the pearl is born within it? Similarly, does the butterfly suffer during its long metamorphosis toward fleeting beauty? Nestled in darkness, do they dream? Are we capable of delving behind their protective shells, embarking on the trajectories of their dreams, desires, and longings? Can we grasp that delicate thread between the illusions of waking and the bewildering uncertainty of sleep? Can that moment be captured and held onto? 

For years, I have worked on different series aptly named, Ballet, where I tried to portray dance, the delicate purity of movements, and the exquisite curves of bodies. The painstaking work on each piece allowed me to delve deeper, to recognize the images taking shape on the canvas, and to reflect. The need to reproduce the admirable grace and lightness of ballerinas gave way to the desire to reach that intimate space, closely guarded like a seashell that holds its precious pearl within itself. 

During the working process with my models, the ballerinas from the National Opera of Sofia gave me a different perspective. I saw them from a different angle--particularly the hidden part of their inner world. During moments of rest, they assumed relaxed, still, agile, delicate poses, resembling butterflies immersed in sleep. Yet, behind their sublime appearance, I could discern an immense internal strength born from suffering and fatigue, from years of hard work and deprivation. Strength devoid of destructive power concealed beneath an ethereal tutu akin to the seashell capable of transforming instantly by anyone who touches it. 

All these thoughts and allusions gave birth to the title of this exhibition: Butterflies Inside the Shell. 

- OGNIAN ZEKOFF  B. 1964, Pleven, Bulgaria