We had the good fortune of connecting with Dimana Zaharieva and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dimana, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I do not think there has ever been another alternative for me. I have always been driven by the desire to create. To be completely honest, the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a magician, and I guess becoming an artist is second best to that. I have had wild and exceptionally vivid dreams ever since I can remember, which brought about this fascination with the possibility of alternate worlds and realities. Representing them through art allows me to bring them to life outside of my subconscious and to share them with other people. As a visual thinker, I have never been good with words. Expressing myself through visual art always felt more natural. Growing up in Bulgaria also contributed to my maturing interest in art. I was surrounded by local art that is very culturally endemic, but also had the privilege to easily travel around Western Europe and familiarize myself with the ‘canon,’ as well as art that subverts or transcends it. I was mesmerized by what I saw in museums and galleries, by artists’ ability to create such beautiful and elaborate images. For instance, I will never forget an exhibition of Salvador Dali’s illustrations after Alice in Wonderland which I saw in Paris when I was twelve. It had a major impact on me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am primarily an oil painter, but I have recently branched out into digital art. For the longest time, I was reluctant to try it out, but since I did, I have come to appreciate its advantages, and I have had a lot of fun working that way. I generally describe my work as surrealist, because I draw a lot of my ideas from dreams and intuitive drawing. I am interested in the subconscious and how viewers interpret my mindscapes. My preferred subject is the human figure, and I mostly depict female characters because that reflects my personal experiences. I try to portray power in femininity, and to create female subjects who are dignified but not necessarily somber, at once relatable and enigmatic. I pursue the beauty of stillness, melancholy, and contemplation; my palette is predominantly cool, and I like to describe my work as being, musically speaking, on the minor scales. I am personally drawn to things that are eerie yet captivating, and I try to incorporate that into my pieces. Combined with a refined aesthetic sense, careful world-building, and a fantastical sensibility, this aspect creates an interstice where things and characters are at once beautiful and bizarre, immaculate but ever so slightly off-kilter. They exist as a statement in themselves, but also as a question to the viewer.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a week to introduce someone to San Diego, I would start with the beaches, because they are my favorite part of the city. The boardwalk between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is a must: touristy, sure, but also a very fun place. In terms of the most beautiful beach, I would say Black’s Beach is at the top of my list, and there are hardly ever any people there; it‘s also a great way to end a Torrey Pines hike. I would also bring that person to see the seals at La Jolla at sunset, since the view of the cliffs is amazing. Another staple, in my opinion, is to go on Coronado Bridge at night and then see the view of Downtown from the island. I would not miss Balboa Park and the museums there, but I would also suggest they visit an art space, Bread and Salt, which supports local artists and always hosts interesting exhibitions.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am extremely lucky to have a family that supports me and enables me to focus on my studies and pursuing an artistic career. I have been heavily influenced by my mom, as cliché as that may sound. She is also a visual person who seeks beauty in everything, so growing up with and around her naturally resulted in an awareness and pursuit of what is aesthetically stimulating.