Daniela Raytchev is an extraordinary artist of our time creating beautiful and challenging works. She is inspired from her own personal experiences and from her personal observations of the human mind and mental health conditions that arise from conflict, addiction, abuse, loneliness, and self-worth – issues faced in the 21st century. Raytchev discusses the emotions that run through the human mind, body and soul disconnecting us from everyday life. Her canvas is the therapist, with her long and forceful brush strokes, primarily using a primary palate drawing us in to the movement of the mind searching for hope and acceptance. Raytchev’s sculptures deliver a powerful message to her audience on her observations.
“ I do not want to scare people – I want to invite them into my work to enquire what is behind the work….”
Raytchev’s talent started developing whilst at school. By sixteen she was an accomplished figurative artist already understanding the human form and the use of shade and light. She was highly proficient in both charcoal, pencil and ink and beginning to experiment with paint.
Having completed her A Level studies Raytchev went on to Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design and later to London College of Fashion to study fashion design. Still using her figurative drawing, she started leaning more and more to the freedom of all art mediums rather than being constrained to one facet of it. She started experimenting with different mediums mixing them with paint and textiles creating more abstract images and collages.
Whilst Raytchev was investigating and defining where she was taking her art, she went and lived in South Africa for 6 months where her painting really began to evolve. On her return to the UK she had her first experience with human mental issues which motivated her first body of work exploring different levels of the human mind and how it affects emotional strength and behaviour. Raytchev used a limited palate in her first body of work, using only primary colours and shades of primary colours. She had first gallery solo show in 2015 at Debut Contemporary in London’s Notting Hill.
As well as painting Raytchev started to bring sculpture into her bodies of work. These were extremely powerful and expressed in totality how broken the human mind can be as well as communicating a sense of hope for the future as shown in the image below. This piece has been recently on loan at the World Chess Hall of Fame museum in St. Louis.
Glass Ceiling (2017) 55 x 55 x 120cm. Wood, glass, spray paint, mixed media
As Raytchev dug deeper into abuse and addiction by interviewing people who had personal experience or were recovering, her work became more forceful both through her sculpture and her paintings as her studies evolved her palate broadened and she developed her signature of her long and forceful brush strokes and the hidden shadows in the back of her figures communicating the hurt and betrayal yet still allowing for hope and self-awareness. ‘Mirror Mirror‘ depicts this perfectly;
“one in six woman get raped in ‘Mirror Mirror’ I have shown this by using light bulbs dipped in primer and then highlighting every sixth one with red depicting the rawness and desecration a human feels be they female or male when they are so violated”. Daniela Raytchev
Mirror Mirror (2019) 85 x 65 x 17cm. Mixed Medium
Raytchev acknowledges that her audience will only see what they want to see. What she depicts in her work is a dark side of life, a side which has only started being publicly discussed in the last few years. She boldly portrays it, drawing her audience in asking for accountability and understanding of how we, the human race, are affected by the pressures and perfectionism of the 21st Century accompanied by the long- standing abuse of woman which is now spreading to men and demanding through her work that we enquire and understand before we make judgement. Conversely, she adds a beauty to her work, explaining through her use of colour and form that there is always hope and every-one is entitled to the gift of hope and happiness however bad it gets or is.
In 2019 Raytchev spent 6 months in New York with the NARS Foundation here she produced her first installation discussing rape.
“Complicit (2019) installation, 90 x 90 x 200cm, mixed media on paper
Complicit’ installation is part of Raytchev’s new body of work that explores rape, sexual abuse and power dynamics within relationships. The piece contrasts the rape trial of feminist Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi with extracts from a recent interview with a survivor of sexual abuse, and the artist’s personal experience.
The piece creates a conversation between the past and the present uncannily revealing similarities of both of the stories that happened more than 400 years apart.
Abstract expressive illustrations based on Raytchev research and experience are layered with text including subtle day to day phrases we encounter, Artemisia’s trial testimony, and a part of the interview with recent rape survivor. Black and white female and male profile outline the piece, each from the opposite side.” Daniela Raytchev
This a brilliant piece of work created on wax paper. Raytchev chose wax paper because of its transparency, feel and the sounds it makes with movement which illustrates the harshness of her subject. She shaped the creative work using oil pastels and enamel to narrate the story she wishes to relate.
Daniela Raytchev is a courageous woman and artist, she has not only given a voice to those who cannot speak through her work, she officially supports mental health charities both in the UK and internationally and regularly gives speeches and enters public discussions on mental health. Her work continues to evolve and WE, her audience, are excited to see where her next body of work will take us….