When Angel was only 12 years old he used to keep a small knife and a piece of wood in his pocket, always carving something… “My favorite theme was The Statue of Freedom in Rousse City – I kept buying postcards of the statue and used to carve tiny wooden sculptures”, he remembers, smiling. One day, a teacher from Angel’s school noticed his talent and asked him: “Have you been to the Tryavna School of Applied Arts?” “Of course I have!” Angel replied. “Do you know that there is a class for woodcarvers?” was the teacher’s question afterwards and it was this very question that kindled a desire for wood-carving in Angel. The young boy had already found his ambition in life…
Angel Mitrofanov chose to study at the wood-processing Professional School of Rousse. After five years of hard study and labour, he became a master of wooden art furniture. He was taught by some of the legendary masters of the school of Tryanva. However, his dream was to construct and carve more solid and remarkable projects. The teachers encouraged his talent by recommending the young wood carver to a local wood furniture factory with lots of orders for serious carving constructions. This happened in 1975… and since then Angel has been devoted to his first love – wood carving. The second one is his family – his beloved wife and their two children.
Angel Mitrofanov is a master of high quality, artistic work with wood such as woodcarving, wood-turning, furniture, souvenirs and decorative carved panels as well as the production of household furniture and complete interior solutions ie. both design and implementation. Angel studied at the Technical School of Woodworking and Interior Architecture in Rousse City, specializing in woodcarving, during the period 1969 – 1973. He became a Master Wood-Carver and has spent more than 30 years, dedicated to wood. He received his Master qualification from the Association of Artisans for Traditional Arts and Crafts (AATAC) in the 80’s. During the 90’s he became chairman of the Association of Artisans for Traditional Arts and Crafts (AATAC) in Rousse City, being a true custodian of traditional crafts skills.
Angel Mitrofanov’s work is completely done by hand – from the initial planning of the product and its construction to the final coating, using only basic carpentry and wood-carving instruments – a rounded wooden hammer and wood-carving chisels. The techniques he uses are based on the typical Bulgarian wood-carving art of the National Revival Period from the XVIII century which contain precise ethereal and opulent floral elements in several layers. The main materials that this master uses to make solid wood furniture are solid timber and the natural veneers of precious wood species such as the oak and walnut tree. The Master Wood-Carver makes solid wood furniture with beautiful decorative ornamentation as well as interior and exterior decorative wooden elements for different projects for example, carved interior columns, complex balustrades, gates and many more.
He believes that he is one of the last true Masters of wood-carving in Bulgaria because there are no disciples of his mastery or students to inherit the craft. There have only been three young men who were willing to learn the master skills of wood carving over the years. The first one studied the craft for five years, the second one – for three years and the third one stayed with Master Mitrofanov for only a year. Unfortunately, no matter how good they got as wood-carvers, none of them practice their master skills now. “They all are great people and became true wood-carvers, but they have to take care of their families and the craft of wood-carving is not profitable enough in Bulgaria… Each of them gave up carving wood and found more lucrative professional fields.”
The master believes however, that if there is a stable and appropriate national and/or international policy to retain and revive wood-carving craftsmanship, devotees will appear who will work and create wood-carvings as they have been done for centuries, with pride and desire.
1977 – Regional Exhibition of Traditional Arts and Crafts (TAC), Ruse.
1978 – National Exhibition of TAC, Oreshak.
1978 – The Third Exhibition contest “Trojan Master, Oreshak.
1978 – International Exhibition “100 years of the Ottoman yoke”, Oreshak.
1980 – Sixth National Fair TAC, Sofia.
1980 – National Exhibition of TAC, Sofia.
1983 – National Exhibition of TAC, Sofia.
1984 – Regional Exhibition for TAC northeastern Bulgaria, Ruse.
1984 – Regional Exhibition TAC, Rousse.
1986 – National Exhibition of TAC, Oreshak.
1987 – Regional Exhibition for TAC northeastern Bulgaria, Ruse.
1987 – Jubilee Exhibition of “The Association of Artisans for Traditional Arts and Crafts (AATAC)”, Sofia.
2015 – Award “Rousse City” for Art and Culture.