The children, with their wide-open hearts, took pleasure in all that was new, different, or even in the most mundane stuff. They can be seen everywhere – out on the road, inside muddy yards, in front of crumbly wooden houses, at desolate beaches on the Black Sea coast; riding bicycles, bikes and motorbikes. They were beaming with the whole emotional spectrum that grown-ups quickly learn to hide or keep deep inside themselves as a result of the hard and often dissatisfying toil. Their mothers – if they were not in need or have given their lives up in the clutches of age, looked away from anything new and different, filled with surprise and suspicion; and even if they did look ahead, it was with great fear and concern.
From the series "Where the mountains flow into the Black Sea".
Museum quality open edition print.
"Where the mountains flow into the Black Sea" is an attempt to sail across the Pontic Mountains in Northern Turkey.
Here, it seems like the sea has forgotten to embrace its shore - beaches are almost nowhere to be seen, and people rarely turn their gaze towards it. The indigenous Pontian lives at peace with the mountain and, in return, it keeps him safe from crashing. Or, at other times, he becomes the involuntary hermit, who's been stranded on the shore ages ago by the roaring tempest, snuggling ever since under the protective shadows of the mountain. Thus, little by little, man has exchanged lighthouses for hundreds of minarets, praising the shore. A shore that has turned into a stronghold of Islam and to cross it is not an easy task. Oftentimes, a random passer-by had to decide whether I was allowed to take a picture of a woman who was a complete stranger to him. All my attempts to speak the language of this hive of solidarity and collective consciousness required of me to obey laws that I didn’t quite understand.
"If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain." So, I’ve decided to remain the foreign body in this flawless organism and I made these shots with an open human heart that doesn’t need any translation. I spoke with the people in my mother tongue and they spoke back in theirs. I came out with my naked soul and this nakedness was acknowledged, because there was nothing to cover anymore.
Valery Poshtarov was born in Dobrich (Bulgaria) in 1986. The son of an artist and a poet, he grew up ever surrounded by artistic people. At the age of 8, his family settled in Varna. During summer breaks he worked in some of his father’s numerous art galleries along the northern Black Sea coast; during the school year, he mastered the fine art and painting techniques at the National High School of Arts in Varna.
In 2006 he moved to Paris where he graduated Plastic Arts from the Sorbonne. His talent was immediately appreciated and his professors encouraged him to finish the three-year bachelor degree in one single year. This period is related to his vivid interest in the classical French humanist photography genre from the mid-twentieth century. Exhibitions of works from that period were presented in Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Sofia and more. Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Paris nominated him for the Cartier-Bresson Award. Despite the nomination and despite the 35 consecutive exhibitions in various parts of Europe (spanning from 2007 to 2012), in the end, Valery went back to Bulgaria, choosing to shut himself out of the noise and vanity of the cocktail parties inevitably accompanying each exhibition. He fervidly photographed and painted across villages and monasteries: from the Rhodope Mountains to the Balkan Mountains; from the Kapinovo Monastery to the Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos. Rarely using his own car, he preferred to hitchhike his way through.
In 2011 he settled in Sofia and founded the first online art gallery in Eastern Europe. During the last few years, he’s been working tirelessly to promote contemporary Bulgarian artists. His frequent encounters with artists became the driving force behind a series of photographic portraits. In 2018 he undertook a significant 6-month trip around the Balkans and thus, some of his major works were created - “The Last Man Standing in the Rhodope Mountains” for which he had to visit no less than 560 villages to find his “Rhodope man”; and “Where the Mountains Flow Into the Black Sea” for which he had to travel whole 3000 km across the Pontic Mountains in northern Turkey.
The art of Valery Poshtarov is part of major collections of different official institutions around the world: Presidency of the Republic of France, the French embassy in Ireland, Bulgarian Cultural Centre in Paris, Evgenii Evtushenko Museum in Moscow and others.