Antonina “Toska” Konzova (b. 1939) is an inimitable and versatile artist, hard to sum up in a few sentences. Her artistic intensity and inspiration seem to be inexhaustible; her art is a specific amalgam of Bulgarian folklore, a little whiff from Italy and some modern symbolism.
She graduated from the National Academy of Arts, in 1966, tutored by Prof. Venko Kolev and Prof. Georgy Kolarov. From 1967 to 1990, she worked at the Center for New Products and Fashion, in their Designer Studio producing models and decorations of glass, porcelain and ceramics. She has participated in all decorative arts exhibitions organized by the Union of Bulgarian Artists (she has been a member since 1972). She has specialized at the International Arts Center in Paris.
Her works have been presented at e number of international symposiums and biennials for ceramics: in Vallauris (France), Vilnius (Lithuania), Florence (Italy). She took part in international exhibitions in Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, the Emirate of Kuwait and the United States and has been awarded several international prizes for ceramics, including from the applied arts quadri-ennial in Erfurt (Germany), the National Youth Exhibition (Bulgaria), the National Applied and Decorative Arts Exhibition in Yambol, 1980. She has also been awarded the annual UBA prize for applied and decorative arts in the name of Ivan Penkov.
Antonina Konzova has worked in purely decorative ceramic sculpture and synthesis of ceramics and architecture, producing monumental wall panels. Her major implemented decorative reliefs include: Tree of Life, Dom Na Architekta (Architects’ House), Sofia; Earth, National Palace of Culture, Sofia; relief in the Varosha architectural and historical reserve, Lovech; Elan, Home/School of the Ministry of Military Transportation, Varna; Rocket, in Vidim. She has presented to her viewers’ attention one collective and seven individual exhibitions.
She has been inspired by Bulgarian iconostases of the National Revival period, archaeological finds, proto-Bulgarian artifacts, Bulgarian folk-style pitchers with female heads, and also the shapes of stones, roots etc. as found in their natural environment. Being an optimist, she says: “Man was made of mud, and this is inspiring”. Following numerous international presentations, Ivan Nenov, the well-known artist and sculptor, took her to famous Italian ceramicist Carlo Zauli, in Faenza. There she heard from him a phrase which got impressed on her consciousness: “Go back and work in your own country”. Thus she stayed in Bulgaria and has continued her work do date.