Usha is one of the very few female experimental art photographers in the Balkans. Throughout her career, she has had more than 20 international solo exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Sofia, and more. She also exhibited in collaboration with other renowned artists in Paris, Amsterdam, Pague, etc.

The art itself is an intimate exploration of the internal spiritual space – emotions, passions, desires, and experiences mix up together, creating an organic self-expressive picture

Her works received international recognition and can be found in collections of the National Library in Paris, the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, the Shadai Gallery in Tokyo, the Japanese Foundation, the Zentral und Landesbibliothek in Berlin, and in the National Art Gallery in Sofia.

The experiment as a way of life.

The natural goal of any search is to find. For me, experimentation is an experience that gives me the freedom to express life the way I see it – an expression of creative, aesthetic, and conceptual development. Collage work is the result of a deep need to explore and create a single, complete image of my inner self – my searches, wanderings, passions and disappointments, emotions, dreams… Photography has always been a sincere, intimate, and conscious act of analyzing my own experiences, values, and deeds.

"The pain and joy of creation are embraced in Love."

Bio

My name is Stanka Tsonkova. I am known as Usha.

I see my work process as an experiment where the main goal is creativity, not a means of it. Work is in photography, not through photography. During the 70s and 80s, I articulated my art urged by a deep need for personal experiences. Observing them for a couple of minutes, they accommodate a feeling of performative actions. Actions in which close-ups, abstractions, and consciously fragmented and laconic notions are the very act that remains hidden from the public.

I use diverse photographic techniques and many negatives. The base is created by composing and blending various negatives into collages through a classical silver-gelatin process. My unique silver gelatin photographs hold distinct imagery that predominantly derives from the old, thin Black and white photographic paper I use. Since the paper is so old, results vary and the final work is unpredictable until the very end. That excites me - it is a process, a journey with no obvious endpoint. It allows me to juxtapose the palette of experiences and emotions without the limits of space and time.

The technical process is quaint – I recombine various negatives on a thin photo paper, "ORWO" or "FORTE" (former soviet brands), which have been out of production for more than 40 years. In the process of printing, the work is crumpled, lightened, and manipulated using various chemicals. As a result, tawny-brownish, ocher, and tan hues appear and are then imprinted on black and white paper. That is without the use of any toners. Thus, every piece that emerges is unique. There are no editions simply because it's not possible.

In her approach, Usha remains a romantic rebel and punk whose refusal to depict, desire to reject, and reassemble borders on the sexual desire for the disintegration of bodies of realities, followed by release, reconfiguration, and merging into a new, reconciled reality.

Artworks

The Atelier

Usha has 35 years of experience in exploring the photographic language as a modern visual medium. Experiments with photographic chemicals, processes, and materials have given her the freedom to extend the boundaries of the specific purpose of photography as a document reflecting reality as it is.

Photo by Nishkov&Nishkov
Photo by Nishkov&Nishkov
Photo by Nishkov&Nishkov

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