We are overjoyed to introduce a remarkable new artist to the gallery: Ignat Ignatov. We first came across his work via an email to the gallery which prompted a late night flurry of activity between the four of us, each raving about the work, loving his back story and wanting to be the first to contact the artist. Linda won the honors, and within 24 hours, they were best friends. (Of course!)
A Signature Member of the California Art Club, Ignat grew up in Bulgaria, where his tremendous talent led him to devote his academic life to art from the age of 13. Studying painting, drawing and sculpture, he attended several prestigious schools in Tryavna (a town bathed in traditional arts and architecture) and Tarnovo, where he received vigorous academic art training. Just before his 18th birthday, on a fluke fueled by his desire to pursue the “American dream,” he entered a lottery to win a green card. He won – and, knowing only one person in the U.S. who happened to live in California, he gave the Golden State as his home address, which it has been ever since.
As an accomplished sculptor, he first landed what sounds like the dream job when he arrived in L.A.: Working for Universal pictures to create prototypes of toys from successful movies (like Scooby Doo!) for licensing, manufacturing and reproduction. He worked long enough to save up some money and pursue his real dream of becoming a full-time artist, teacher and traveler. He has traveled the world since and seems to have friends in every city.
In his words:
“I thrive to explore! Painting allows me to learn and experience my visual surroundings through paint.”
Fascinated by an exhibit of Orientalist art at the Getty Museum, Ignat headed to Morocco, where he captured a pose of a man with a monkey. He jokingly admits that the man was actually wearing a Nike tee-shirt, but Ignat, influenced by the work of French 19th C. Orientalist Jean-Léon Gérôme, decided to exercise his artistic license and dress him in traditional garb.
Among his favorite artists, who include Nicolai Fechin, John Singer Sargent and Joaquin SorollaIgnat, Ignat credits Anders Zorn, for espousing a limited palette of black, white and yellow ochre. “You can create so many different shades and values with just this limited palette. This painting is only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.
Ignat’s art is also infused with his compassion for animals — especially dogs. When he first arrived in America, Ignat was shocked to hear that many of the animal shelters were overcrowded and euthanising their pups. Feeling that something had to be done, he decided to paint and donate some of the dog portraits to promote and put faces on the crisis and to raise money for the shelters. Ignat’s dog paintings are poignant, compassionate and chilling, and hopefully will continue to raise awareness and funding of this crisis.
Princess was a mixed breed stray that Ignat found by the side of the road. He took her straight to the vet, where they identified the owner (she had a chip) who couldn’t take her back. Ignat waited for her to be examined and released, and then offered her a home until a suitable new owner was located. And in the meantime, he painted her:
Back in his native Bulgaria, Ignat found out about a program that two women had organized to shelter stray dogs. They built make-shift huts for the dogs, and needed to raise money for a fence, so the strays would be able to have their own homes. Once again, he got involved by raising awareness of the problem and raising money to build the fence. “It gives me great pleasure to discover the emotional impact brush strokes and color have,” he says. As a gallery of dog fans (not to mention a few “Dawgs” too), this definitely touched a chord with the Huff’hington crowd.
Ignat is also a talented portraitist, whose work ranges from near realism to almost abstract. We particularly loved this painting of fellow artist Alexey Steele and the story behind it:. One afternnon, Ignat and Alexey decided to paint each other. Alexei went first, while Ignat posed — except Alexei took most of the day waiting for the light to be right, adjusting for shadows and prepping for the painting. When he finally finished, it was around 7 p.m. and Ignat was dying to get to his easel. Chasing the remaining light, he rushed through this painting of Alexei to produce a portrait that is remarkably powerful, emotional and fresh. Sometimes, it’s good to be rushed!
In addition to painting landscapes, portraits, animals and figures, Ignat has a gift for still lives. We can practically taste the eggplant and smell the rose in the paintings below, and you can see our unabashed reaction to “The Red and The Black.”
The Red and Black and Green Harmony are great examples of pure palette knife painting, which gives them that luscious, smooth texture that wavers between sharp focus and gently blurred. Ignat never studied palette knife in school, but perfected the technique when he was traveling; at a loss for turpentine to clean his brushes, he learned it was much easier just to wipe off a knife! The painting below of the marsh scene in Kiawah is a hybrid of brush and palette knife.
We invite you to stop by the gallery and see this handsome new collection in person. It’ll be inspiring for you, just as it has been for us to discover a talented artist with an interesting history and a big heart. Just in time for Thanksgiving!
P.S. Interested in purchasing a painting by Ignat Ignatov? Visit our website for available works: Huff Harrington Fine Art