The artist, Rumen Petkov, with signature “RuménPe” was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in January of 1948. After graduating Sofia Art School in 1967, he began his career as an animation director at the Boyana Animation Studio. In addition, Mr. Petkov obtained a Masters of Literature from the University of Sofia in the early 80’s. While working at the Boyana Animation Studio, he directed more than fifty short animation films and one feature film, The Treasure Planet. Many of his animated films have won international awards in Germany, Japan, Finland, and most notably, a “Palme d' Or” at the 1985 Cannes film festival for the short film, Wedding. Mr. Petkov's film Monkeys was named one of the ten best animated films in the world at the Hiroshima Festival in Japan.
Rumen Petkov also did illustrations and comic strips for the magazine Rainbow. In the period before 1990, Mr. Petkov chose the metaphorical and indirect language of animation to express himself artistically within a totalitarian regime in Bulgaria. He also enjoyed working in graphic design and illustration, but his true passion has always been painting. During this period, the theme of his paintings was “Strangers in Love”, depicting strangers trying to escape political control and restriction. There are only four remaining paintings from that period: A Kiss, Jealousy, Flying in the Winter Sky, and Ballet. The rest have either been sold or stolen from Mr. Petkov’s studio in Bulgaria. Rumen Petkov’s work has also been presented at national exhibitions in Sofia and at the Biennale in Luca, Italy.
Prior to 1990, Rumen Petkov was director and art director of all of his films. In 1990, Mr. Petkov moved to Los Angeles with his family. He worked as an animator, character designer, storyboard artist, and director for Warner Brothers, Universal, Klasky Csupo, and Animation Cottage. He directed shows such as Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Cow and Chicken. He also helped revive Tom and Jerry and Woody Woodpecker.
Since 1998, Mr. Petkov has been teaching layout and directing at CalArts University in Los Angeles.
For almost twenty years, Rumen Petkov did not feel an inspiration to paint. One day, his grandson arrived at his house carrying a small white elephant. Mr. Petkov had just returned from Africa where he had also seen elephants. At that moment, he felt the inspiration to paint that elephant through the eyes of his grandson clenching the elephant with a cosmic amount of love. This painting is currently in the home of Mr. Petkov and it depicts Mr. Petkov’s whole family as well as his dead ancestors throwing stars from the sky on a big white elephant.
The ancient genius philosopher Plato said, “Only the Gods are immortal, but Love can make the human beings immortal too, because after the first human came to this earth, Love is giving us a chance to continue to exist in time like God living forever.” Plato referenced love as the Love of creating art and thinking. For Rumen Petkov, his love is painting. In recent years, Rumen Petkov created the sequence of 13 oil-on-canvas paintings titled, "Dreams". He is currently working on another sequence titled, "Faith and Love".