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Ikeda Masuo

TOKYO, 1992

Vezhdi, an awe inspiring sculptor who has mastered a form rich in sharp and expressive detail, much like Japanese calligraphy and at the same time gra ceful and beautiful, with a feel of goodness about it.

He is the author of surprise through form, sensitivity, strength and an abundant array of themes.

This makes him different from what we are used to perceive.

Georgi Trifonov

Artist and Poet

Vezhdi, you have done it again, you annoyed me – you called to ask me to write a couple of sentences about you without thinking what a difficult task you burden me with – how can I put in a few words the roads we walked together , the feasts and songs, the exhibitions around the country and abroad – Warsaw, Budapest, New Delhi, Paris, Moscow, Erevan, the whole of Turkey and so on… Seas, no – oceans of bitterness, disillusionments and joy; the things we shared and disputed, the quarrels and reconciliations; the sleepless celebrations and working round the clock; the cross-purpose views and the survival, in spite of everything and everyone, of a thirty-year-old friendship which stood the vicissitudes of the ever transient time – and we as transient in it, but true to our pursuit to leave behind our work, intransient, afte r us!

Life offers everything to everyone, but not everyone manages to take what is given to him. Vezhdi managed to live fully up to the gifts of freedom – the gifts that bring not only happy flights but wounds too, and pain; not only faith but lessons to learn, which offered him emotions like love and respect but also hatred (but the hatred of those who are wo rthless)…

Vezhdi is seated in the earliest memory of our friendship – sullen, with a dust-covered hat, warming his fingers frozen with the wet clay over a tin stove, propped like a black stork in the poky studio in Zaichar street – obviously something is not going right with his work; he mumbles to himself, menacingly – to whom, I don’t know but I barely hear: I’ll make it! I’ll make it!

Today I have a simple answer: Vezhdi made Vezhdi like no one else. Vezhdi achieved himself.

Aksinia Dzhurova

Vezhdi Rashidov a Portrait Sketch

Where is Vezhdi Rashidov’s place in Europe? If we take as a point of departure the modern European strategies, which should take shape according to the main feature of the concept of the Old Continent (respect for diversity – multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multicultural, and multi-religious), then his contribution is indisputable. He is one of the people adding to the diversity of the continent in a cultural aspect, a diversity based on a singular wisdom pertaining to old civilizations: the realization of the highest vocation given to man – his individual uniqueness and respect for the characteristics of any traditional culture. This wisdom is outside the pursuit of uniformity, a product of “young” cultures, or a sign of their deeply concealed inferiority complex at all that is created so far.

At the moment there is more and more in evidence a critical outlook, symptoms of doubt, to the basic postulates of modernity defined a century ago and finalized in The Bauhaus Manifesto (Walter Gropius, 1883 – 1969) in 1919, skepticism to “reverence to the beauty of functionality”, or an object is beautiful and functional if it sells well, skepticism to the defined philosophy of standardization which meant that the artists’ strength lies in their flexibility to the consumer, i.e. the market. This philosophy was never strictly applied in the Balkans – the egion where Vezhdi Rashidov was shaped up as an artist. And it is not because there never were objective conditions to experience at the same time, and not post factum, the principle movements in modern art. There were no conditions in the Balkans region and culture to appear Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-made” and this may prove to be one of the greatest chances for the artists of the region. For them, even for the minority who were well acquainted with the European processes and had lived in European capitals, avant-garde was always more of a historic fact in the framework of artistic life. In this part of the world the canonic concept of the esthetic has always been equated with truth, and this is valid with little exception even today. The so-called “Bulgarian transformism” (P. Restani, Izkustvo, 1996, pp. 38-40) even with its best samples shows differences with the European styles of the 30s and 40s of the 20th century. This “a-synchrony” with the dictate of fashion by the world centres, characteristic of the cultural development of the periphery, saved Bulgarian artists from the self-skeptic attitude of world culture to its own development and, hence, to its future. And this is so because art in the Balkan region and in the East is still perceived as a purpose and hope much more than as a means of exchange and a commodity. In a nutshell – art did not abandon its foremost mission of generating spiritual messages.

In this register of thinking the safeguarding of one’s own voice, of the characteristic traits of sensitivity and artistic expression, is of special value in a multi-faced Europe. The local colour and vitality, the local myth – inherent to any art, makes the composition of the jig-saw puzzle of multi-faced Europe. And the presence of Vezhdi Rashidov in the sculpture collections of the big museums and private galleries all over the world is a proof of what is highly valued in the contemporary world of art. And this is his skill to remain in the framework of the figurative tendency with a Roman exquisiteness of detail, i.e. to preserve the plasticity even when he de-segments the form and fragments the material, to preserve the lyricism and the expressiveness even in his most dramatic achievements. And something else, his works are vibrant with social tension. They are the fruit of human emotion, of a living sensitivity, they do not carry the traits of institutionalizing, and this, I dare claim, is not limited to the last two decades of his creative life. It is not a whim that in every stone Vezhdi Rashidov sees a human head, figure, smile or tear. For him creating art is the most beautiful lie, which a person cannot live without and an artist cannot do without in his work. And if this artist knows when to stop in this infinite game, then he has read God’ s sign.

June 25, 2006, Varna

Svetlin Rusev

November, 2011

In a retrospective portrait Vezhdi Rashidov meets us with his own artistic development over time – from the young sculptor’s first serious creations to the works of the mature 60 year-old artist. A dangerous and risky commensurability in which, fortunately, the selfconfidence of a young man and the experience over the years unite to form the entire image of an unconventional artist who has his own way, creative behavior and system of images which is expressive and sharp in terms of sensitivity, harsh and tender in terms of emanation. An unbiased look into this gallery of portraits, free from the public mythologization and demonization of the author, reveals the real sculptor , born and built on cultural layers  in which archaism, antiquity, pagan mysteries and lessons of modern sculpture are its spiritual and plastic home. In this home the author has received Caesar and Slona, Lyacho and Emil Stoychev, Krastan Dyankov and Dimovski, Petio Blaskov, Georgi Trifonov and Ivan Kozhuharov, acquaintances , friends and unknown people and has endowed them with his author’s uniqueness. Once touched by the sculptor, they give up any transient passions and prejudices and come to belong to the permanent life of plastic knowledge.

Emil Stoychev

А letter to Vezhdi Rashidov, sculptor, citizen of the wide world

As I see it you represent a strange mix of skepticism and hot temper, a certain kind of good-heartedness and warm grace – the eternal and inseparable qualities of every artist of value. Only through closer communication with you one can access the puzzling secrets of your soul. In appearance you could be compared to an artist looking for his truth – ready to defend it with all possible means, a slightly affective personality on all ideas outside of your aesthetics circle, the icy cloak, the armour of a vulnerable and extremely sensitive soul. Burning passion for all that is good and beautiful in life, and under the mask of egotism – the same devotion to your friends and favorite ideas.

Another of you valuable qualities is your imagination – it has never stopped climbing the steep slopes of perfection. Good and evil, heaven and hell could be yours.

All your abilities are subject to your imagination and this imagination defines their place and value. The visible universe according to me is merely food for the artist’s hand, who defines its place and importance, inspires order and harmony. Vezhdi, you ardently love passion and equanimity, you try to find ways and resources to achieve them with all possible means.

What it comes to after all is a life-work of a sculptor: love, excellent erudition, keen knowledge of the intricacies of the craft, strong and at the same time exquisite form, pursuit of perfection – all these qualities as a whole and taken separa tely, are your pride.

In our lamentable times a new industry was created; it contributed to a great extent to the endorsement of stupidity and kitsch in art and to the destruction of the few heavenly things in the Bulgarian artistic tradition.

That is why I am utterly convinced that your results are of the highest quality and that you are recognizable among other artists, that you possess your own circle of themes so in tune with your temperament.

Stay the way you are because it is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.

Emil Stoychev
March 18, 2006, Paris