When I first found Anton-Constantin Anastassov’s art page, I was blown away. In my eyes, this seventeen year old Bulgarian kid was exposing underground internet communities to a new sort of aestheticism. When I stumbled upon his work, he was operating under the Facebook page “Everything is Fine.”
I was used to the depressive art, memes, and misanthropic aestheticism that modern-day teenagers seem to snort up like a crack addiction, but Anton’s page was different. Although many people relate to his work on an emotional level, Anton-Constantin brought, and continues to bring, a high level of undeniable taste. He’s bringing back true surrealism in a way that’s unique and powerful. His work isn’t necessarily dark, it’s dreamlike, conceptual, and extremely detailed. Even as a minor, he’s driven towards materializing his creativity, and is already exhibiting his pieces in galleries. I have yet to see anyone be able to emulate the dreamlike world he seems to be a part of.
Is the symbolism that you put into your work intuitive or planned carefully?
Nowadays, the symbolism in my work is planned carefully, although in the past it was more intuitive. Overall, there’s the aspects of both intuition and planning. What I currently try to do, and what seems to work the best, is to imagine the overall picture in my head, and then draw a sketch of it. Afterwards, I make improved versions of the same sketch and modify some things, and think about what the general concept is as I go. However, sometimes I don’t follow this process.
What is the inspiration behind “Never, Nowhere, Forever”?
The inspiration behind that drawing is a mixture between something I imagined in my head, which is the background, and the idea for there to be two figures doing these particular actions. I used references for the figures and then modified them in my own way. The jellyfish are there because I often have dreams about them. The inspiration behind it is to show how the world both exists, and yet doesn’t at the same time. So you can say that the world has “never” existed and at the same time exists “forever.” I want my artwork to have room for interpretation, and for people to see their own meaning within it, so I don’t really like sharing my exact conception of it. I try to describe illusions, and the paradox of the universe itself. I try to show things that I find interesting, or that I am feeling or thinking in a metaphoric way. Often times, these subjects and images are related to dreams, emptiness, nightmares and mystery.
Do you believe in “the supernatural”? Your work feels like the work of a boy who often visits the astral world.
I am agnostic about it. I think you can’t prove it doesn’t exist, therefore there is a chance that it does. However, I am not sure. I really love the idea of the supernatural, as well as everything to do with magic and otherworldly beings! Most of the time, the beings that you see in my art are at first sight magical, but in my mind. At the same time, they are something else that’s very real, such as a thought or an emotion. I just like adding magical elements in my work because I think they are very fascinating.
Have you experienced ageism in the art world because you’re gaining a lot of popularity at a young age?
I think I have, but not very much. There are people who are amazed by my art because of my age. Some are skeptical that such complicated ideas could appear in the mind of such a young person. I personally believe that the most unusual thoughts emerge within the minds of young people.
Has living in Bulgaria influenced you as an artist? How has it affected your work?
I think living in Bulgaria has not influenced me a lot as an artist, because with my work I want to express more global ideas, such as the relationship between humans and the universe outside and within them. Of course, the political and economic problems related to my country affect me, but I want to show in my art a bit more different things.
Your reputation seems to be of an artist that generally brings very sad, frustrated, or melancholy emotionally charged work. Are you trying to express these emotions to the general populace in your art?
My older work expressed these emotions, and this was a way for me to vent them, to get them out of me and transform them into something productive. However, now I would like my artwork to have more variety, and not be the same thing over and over. I want to express a lot of different things, and I don’t want my art to be generalized as simply “negative” because it’s not just that. Some pieces are definitely intended to be that way, but not all of them, especially my newest work! Overall, I want people to interpret my work in their own way.
Do you want more creativity now rather than simply unrest?
Yes, I do. I’ve always wanted that. In the past however, I chose to dedicate my art mostly to venting my emotions in a direct way, but now I would like to show my inner self in a more subtle way. I would also like to show a wider array of visions. Nowadays, I try to show the two sides of the world combined in one, beauty and ugliness, good and bad, fantasy and reality. Darkness and light make our world, and neither can exist without the other. The main thing I want to have in my art is subtlety.