NINA Kovacheva is a versatile artist. Her work goes beyond the confines of a single medium. She taps into the resources of video, photography and drawing, amongst others. What has also added complexity to her artistic career is a fruitful cooperation with Valentin Stefanoff, especially in video installations in public spaces. One of the most notable distinctive features of NINA's art is her abiding interest in the body as an elusive object. If we choose to pun on Deleuze and Guattari's construct of the nonproductive body without organs, we should say that NINA is exhilarated by the production and re-production of organs without bodies. In many of her most powerful photos, for example, we are given strikingly profound vistas of body parts. Most of these shots accommodate conflicting sides of existence: male and female; nature and culture; life and death. A dainty female hand, with nails deliberately polished in bright red, has locked in its grip a helpless male organ. Male and female feet stand at cross-purposes and yet overlap in funny configurations. We, the beholders, feel that these pictures have an awful lot to say, but the reconstruction of meaning(s) is left to us. With her latest series of drawings, NINA seems to have struck out in a somewhat new direction. Without sacrificing the sophistication of the message, she seems eager to add a more direct social sting in the tail of her pictures. Take, for instance, the fragile young girl who would rather embrace a bomb than play with her ballerina toy. This figure stands as an absurdly beautiful admonition against a world in which the image of violence has been airbrushed to look like a children's game. Such pictures tell us that while the artist still believes that beauty is truth and truth & beauty, she also wants her art to gently raise political awareness.
 Lubomir Terziev  


 
NINA Kovacheva starts her journey in the world of contemporary art with self-knowledge, i.e. by exploring her own body. The process of “reconciliation” with the invariant of the flesh leads her into territories beyond the physical.  
On the other hand, the very exposure of the artist’s defenseless naked body (facing the spectator, more often than not) indicates, and this was visible even back in the 90s of the previous century, an urge to exceed long-established constraints. In the world of her art, the spectator’s eye is admitted, invited, prompted to caress the relief of the body and to read into the meaning of the object like a blind man who softly feels the raised dots on a Braille sheet. Meaning gets in through the skin, as it were.
It is as if this peculiar confession revolving around the fear of the sensuous and the sensual has been overcome by artist and spectator alike. This apprehension is, in a sense, laid aside and the two parties in the visual dialogue can converse without the pressure of the erotic. At the same time, the sexual dimension enjoys a natural presence in Kovacheva’s subsequent works (importantly, not only where it is more directly discernible: My Thousand Nights and a Night (2007) or the series of drawings entitled xx (2011-2012).
The process of probing into and liberation from the artist’s own body spans, roughly, between 1995 and 2005. What comes next is a turn in NINA’s work. The strange “still life” compositions from the Smiles Giving, Tears Crying (2008) cycle appear. In them, all kinds of plastic toys, fetishist objects, and dead animals seem to be replicating life. The setting is so theatrical that we are at first beguiled into believing that the characters are real. Far from it, though: only blank eyes stare back at us.
Almost at the same time, in 2009, NINA opens her series of black-and-white drawings executed in the convention of contemporary graffiti. Here, we see little Lolitas playing with guns rather than with men’s feelings, with the comic-like characters who peep over their shoulders adding to the absurdity of the picture. In 2011, this series evolves into The Crying Game. The three compositions, – Pieta, Salome and The Last Supper – which also center on children as characters, are part of the same strand. In The Hidden Face of Fragility (2011), NINA shifts her attention from children’s innocence and children’s almost innocent games to the world of adults, who have their own way of approaching the permanently seductive haven of childhood’s purity. Therefore, the plush toys in their hands assume a bizarre quality. The artist has her subjects half-naked and places them against the background of a boundless field. What accounts for her preference for men is most likely the need to avoid the sub-narrative that would have been triggered by more conspicuous sex markers. These men stand there innocuously innocent, cuddling their irretrievably lost childhood. What is laid bare is not the body, but, rather, the innermost layers of the soul. Thus, the strong and proud men, who have achieved a good standing in the community, turn into subjects equal in their vulnerability to the imminence of the infinite.
NINA Kovacheva has walked the long and strenuous path from sharing her own nakedness to sharing the nakedness of the other. In either case, there is a more than physical dimension to her oeuvre. That’s what makes her works so startlingly powerful and so enchanting.
Maria Vassileva