Yanko Tihov (b. 1977) is a master printmaker. He had a classical training at the National Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria, where a great emphasis was placed on drawing. He told me they drew for 3 hours every day, from life models, plaster casts . . . everything that would be expected in an artist’s classical training. I presented two examples of the artist’s paintings on canvas, Pedestrians (2014) and House in Kensington (2009) in this solo exhibition. He continues to produce some three oil painting per annum, but his greatest love was and remains printmaking.
The artist’s body of work reflects his long standing interests in identity, belonging and social commentary. His passport series humanises the globe, reminding us that every country exists not only in its geographical features but is made up of people, who have an often desperate need or simply a desire to travel. His recent work, included in the show, looks at the shifting borders of Europe, at the disintegration of the British Empire, at the attempt to apply branding to humanity from a very young age, until death. In Branded Skulls in the Mexican tradition of a rich cultural celebration of ancestors on All Souls Day or ‘The Day of the Dead’, note that the skull of a person from Mexico is exactly the same as the skull of a person from the United States. A British skull the same as that of a person labelled in life ‘Iranian’. No matter where we’re from, we share a common humanity. We need artists now, more than ever, to refresh our vision from the state’s perpetual attempts to divide us from each other.
– Beth Junor