Iva Gueorguieva is a Los Angeles abstract artist, who produces large-scale paintings, collages, drawings, and relief-sculptures, that embrace restless vitality and frenetic energy. Her dizzying array of brushstrokes, use of vivid colors, and complexity of spatial configurations blend abstraction with vaguely recognizable objects.
Gueorguieva was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and was two years into the traditional curriculum at an academy of applied arts when the communist government collapsed in 1989. “The whole society fell apart . . . Everything that seemed solid was in a state of total fragmentation and disappearance. Overnight, everything changed in Bulgaria.”
In 1990, her family ended up in inner-city Baltimore. Her mother, a doctor, and her father, an engineer, found jobs in a factory, leaving 16 year old Gueorguieva in charge of her two younger brothers. Never having experienced inner city violence, she described how the family lived. “We were like animals inside of a basement.” It was a neighbor who – having noticed that she and her brothers were not attending school – guided them through the transition to American life.
Gueorguieva enrolled at the Baltimore School for the Arts. She attended Goucher College and graduated in 1997 with a B.A. in philosophy. She knew she wanted to be a painter and enrolled in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and received her M.F.A. After living in New Orleans for almost four years, she and her husband came to the West Coast where she now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Gueorguieva’s abstract paintings contain a visceral sense of urgency. “The paintings always start with a situation or a visual proposition.” From there she makes decisions in a slow and contemplative manner. She will collage onto her canvases pieces of muslin, which she has torn, cut, drawn on, and dyed, to give a layered effect. At times a figurative object or person will barely appear in her abstract paintings, making for narrative possibilities that remain elusive. A sketch of a boat may be seen near the top of one canvas, while something that might be a light bulb is nearby. Curves may or may not imply a human body. Gueorguieva states that painting is a way of remembering. It is her way of thinking about space and time, where painterly illusion and physical materiality intertwine.
In 2012, Gueorguieva started making sculpture, constructed of wood, fabric, pigment, and paper, all fragmented like her paintings. These skeleton-like sculptures alternated between painting and sculpture. In the following year she included found objects from a construction site – concrete, reclaimed steel, and rebar – and put them into her reconfigured pieces of sculptures. She likens these objects to talismans and has named them accordingly in her “Talisman Debris” series, which she revisited in 2016.
Gueorguieva received a Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2006. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Lux Art Institute at Encinitas in 2010 where she created a large-scale abstract painting approximately 7’ by 10’. In August of 2015 she spent a week as Artist-in-Residence at the printmaking studio of the University of South Florida where she designed and collaborated on mixed-media environmental sculptures.
Her work has been shown in group exhibitions at LACMA; U.S.F. Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, Florida; and Pasadena Museum of California Art. Her solo exhibitions have taken place in galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Culver City, Pomona, Cologne, Washington D.C., New York, Boston, and Amsterdam.
Her work is in the public collections of major museums such as LACMA, MOCA, University Art Museum Cal State Long Beach, Pomona College Museum of Art, and Art, Design and Architecture Museum at U.C. Santa Barbara.