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Petya Ilieva - an ambassador of Bulgarian culture to the world

In Chicago
Photo: personal archive

Petya Ilieva's paintings have been shown in so many countries around the world that it is easier to count the places where her works have not been exhibited yet. The talented artist has already presented the beauty of Bulgaria in nearly 50 countries on 6 continents, including distant Antarctica. President of France, Emmanuel Macron, also owns one of her works.


She has been drawing since an early age and received her first big award at the age of 9. Petya Ilieva graduated from the "Ilia Petrov" National Art High School in Sofia and then studied "Painting and Aesthetics" at the "Sts. Cyril and Methodius" University in her hometown of Veliko Tarnovo. She later specialized in "Mural Restoration" in Vienna, where in the period 1995 to 2010 she took part in the restoration of 8 iconic sites.

"It is exciting that I have touched the frescoes in two Catholic churches in Vienna with my brush, but the most memorable were the five months I spent in Burg Clam castle,” the artist says in an interview with Radio Bulgaria. “There, together with Prof. Fastl we were uncovering the murals that had been sealed when electrification took place. The castle was built in 1149 and later in 1581 it was acquired by the Klamm family. One can see a separate family concert hall where the little Mozart used to perform. A few years ago I went to see the finished look of the room with the original harpsichord that Mozart used and a mannequin dressed in an authentic costume and wig of the virtuoso, as well as the murals, which we then restored and preserved.”

Burg Clam

Petya Ilieva's works are characterized by the bright colors of Bulgarian embroidery and folk motifs from all regions of the country, as the style has become a trademark of the artist.

"It is part of my nature to be always looking for something unique, something that no one has done before me. 2012 was the European Year of Sustainable Energy. I represented Bulgaria at an international forum of artists under the auspices of UNESCO and I was looking for examples and symbols of the sustainable energy that has preserved our people throughout the centuries. That's how I reached to the folklore motifs,” Petya Ilieva recalls. "I'm happy that I have achieved my goal in places where people didn't know anything about our country."


Petya Ilieva turned the topic into a long-term initiative. In 2019, a large-scale project called Art4Diplomacy started, in which the diplomatic representations in Bulgaria are also included. The project introduces foreigners to Bulgarian culture and Bulgarians to the beauty of foreign culture.

Havana, Cuba

"Works within the framework of this project can be seen in a number of public spaces in the urban landscape of Sofia, and now also in Havana. At the initiative of the Embassy of Bulgaria in Cuba, we organized an exhibition together with my street art project, which included decoration with traditional Bulgarian and Cuban motifs on electrical distribution boxes in two central pedestrian streets in the capital," she says.


Petya Ilieva continues her mission of popularizing Bulgarian culture, introducing people to interesting things about this country that they cannot find on the Internet and provoking their desire to visit her homeland. Her works make her a true ambassador of Bulgarian culture throughout the world.

"For a long time after the presentations, people keep writing to me, sharing their impressions with gratitude that, at least for a while, I somehow charged them with the energy of Bulgaria,” Petya Ilieva says in conclusion.

See also:

English: Al. Markov

Photos: personal archive

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