Nasimo: Walls are His Canvas
His art bears witness to freedom of expression after the fall of communism on a scale so grand, even buildings can barely contain it.
It was a time of great tumult as a revolutionary wave in the late 80s and early 90s marked the end of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. After the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria in 1989, a young artist took an interest in spray painting on walls. He would later be known as a pioneer of Eastern European graffiti art culture and become an icon of graffiti fine art in the Balkans.
“Let’s go scribble on the walls,” said a young man.
The year was 1994 when a young skateboarder left the theater and did just that. It was a clear night in Targovishte, Bulgaria, and Stanislav Trifinov, known as Nasimo, stood in front of a large wall, holding a can of spray paint. The sound of sirens began to blare, and everyone dispersed in every direction.
“When it was my turn, I had not thought of anything yet. I took the can, looked left and right, and then at my skateboard and wrote ‘Skate or Die’,” says Nasimo.
Influenced by the World Around Him
Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe it was the fear of getting caught that allowed him to tap into the human subconscious. But one thing is for certain, an artist was born. The world of art, and walls, would never be the same again.
“It was quite startling, but I will never forget that feeling. I was so excited by the adrenaline that I could not fall asleep all night. I wanted to do it again,” says Nasimo.
After a while, it became clear, he and others that shared the same interest banded together and formed a brotherhood. And so, the first Bulgarian graffiti art crew was born called the LBC (Los Bastardos Crew). This was a period when beauty and creation yearned to be expressed from young minds no longer shackled by communistic dogma. It is raw, but it is powerful.
His parents supported his art, but there was fear. They knew he was painting on walls of buildings and he had to develop methods to sneak out of the house with cans of spray paint. He discovered that if he placed magnets in the bottom, the little balls inside the can would stay still and the sound would not betray him.
Nasimo attended higher education at Veliko Tarnovo where he was introduced to more classical styles of art. He juxtaposed these styles with his own creativity which would later become emblematic of his originality and style. Afterwards, he moved to Sofia, where things took a turn.
As some artists do, Nasimo lost himself in the dark corners of over indulgence. Drowning his sorrows in parties and excess, he had to pull himself out. “Then we stressed hard on the night life … this period lasted two to three years. Then I gradually became disappointed with my life, lost meaning in the things I did, even physically I did not feel good, which scared me a little.” He says.
With every down, there comes an up. He was interviewed by a Canadian magazine, Between the Cracks, and it became clear that there was a market in Canada for his work. Without skipping a beat, he was on a plane to Canada and then found a place to put up an exhibit. There, he met John “The Dutch Man,” a famous tattoo artist who ignited his connections and turned his path around for the better.
Reflecting back, he says, “People started to write with invitations to participate in many festivals around the world, and private orders sent me to many different countries where I was fortunate to paint.”
Nasimo began a quest for truth, for himself. In ancient Indian scriptures he sought solace, yet it was always just out of reach. This led him to travel to India. Throughout this adventure, he found enlightenment and realized the truth was in his past. He returned to his university to develop his skill in classical art. Returning to the life he left behind was the key to developing the unique style that would define him in the future.
“We worked intensively from morning till night. I was going out of a hall, in a hall, from a model to another model, I did not even have time to eat. I wanted so much to touch the old masters’ level that even in the evening after 14 hours in front of the canvases I was excited, and I could hardly fall asleep,” he reflects.
A Mastery of Craft Emerges
His new concentration on classical techniques and fine art was the perfect juxtaposition necessary to create his own signature style known as Fine Graff Art. It comes to life as he mixes street and graffiti techniques with traditional fine art methods. In today’s graffiti style, the process is more aggressive. It involves masks and sharp edges. It utilizes intense and basic colors. His new style has a sophistication that far exceeds that. It combines balance with beautiful precision.
The harmony of his compositions play and dance with some aggression while staying true to the spirit of the classics. To Nasimo, it is not just the technique, it is the spirit behind it and how it all comes together to create something much, much bigger.
”The unabated energy Nasimo has invested in his art is infectious. We have known each other for almost 15 years and to this day I am still surprised at his work as an artist and philosopher during all this time — the attention to every detail in a book or exhibition and at the same time to an overall vision of the project — Nasimo is an uncompromising professional and visionary,” says colleague Eleeza Ivanova, an illustrator, animator, and videographer.
In 2016 Nasimo was nominated for Enlightener of the Year by the Bulgarian National Television and FM+ Radio. And in 2018, he was awarded for his contribution towards National Culture in the category of Fine Arts by the Municipal of Targovishte.
His larger than life murals can span across 10 story buildings. His creations reside all over the world. Besides Bulgaria, they can be seen in countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, India, and Hong Kong.