Asen and Ilia Peikov
At the front door of Rome - the airport of Fiumicino, there is a unique Bulgarian trace left, the 9-meter bronze statue of Leonardo da Vinci, made by the Bulgarian sculptor Asen Peikov.
Near the Colosseum there is a little square, named after the Bulgarian sculptor. Further, inside the most famous and most ancient café - Caffè Greco on via Condotti, you can see a bronze plaque, recognizing Peikov's talent.
Provoked by his courageous nature and thirst for justice, he took an active part in the liberation actions of Rome. He and his younger brother Ilia Peikov sheltered American prisoners and assisted the members of the Roman resistance. After the horrible years of the World War II, a period of peace and constructive progress came. Consequently, Asen took the time to work on some of his greatest works of art. As a result, we now have the chance to admire the three-meter statue of Minerva at the University of Bari, the three-meter marble statue of San Giovanni, and a statue of "Geroi" in the Institute of Physics Department in Orvieto.
Asen Peikov’s old studio on via Margutta in Rome used to be a gathering place of the most important intellectuals and artists of this time in Rome. (1950-60).
Among his most popular friends were Fellini, Ava Gardner, the poet Ungaretti, the painters Guttzo and De Chirico.
Nanni Canesi compares Asen Peikov to Schiller and Byron, finding in him something mysterious which is typical for a man of the past eras. Surely, his difficult childhood and the horror that he had lived in after his father’s death, had left a deep trace in his consciousness.
His father Nicola was an engineer and a politician of the Agrarian Union of Stamboliyski, whose followers sooner or later had been burned alive. Hence, in 1923 a fraction of the Agrarian Union, the far-right politicians, killed 33 thousand people, including Asen Peikov’s father, who was shot at the front door of his own house. Later on Asen said that this motivated him to embrace his father’s enthusiasm.
At the age of sixteen he ran away to the seaside and became a fisherman. During that time he met four boys with the help of whom, he created the rebel newspaper "Misal". However, their actions have been discovered promptly and while the four boys managed to escape in Russia, Asen was caught and imprisoned for eight months. After his release from prison, he was sent to Sofia, where he had a tough life.
Life in the capital wasn't so easy. Asen could eat only when it happened to cut firewood or to earn some money. He slept secretly in a sawmill and he even tried to commit suicide. The guard of the sawmill found him and took care of him secretly. That was the man, who as a father, was trying to make him understand that a man can kill himself only if he first have had the courage to touch what is inside him- the soul. In Sofia he makes friendship with a young artist, dealing with ceramics, which friendship determines its further destiny. Seeing the valuable works of the young artist, Asen says: "I saw the clay, i touched it and i become a sculptor." After that he decides to finish school, realizing that there is no turning back. He takes lessons by Andrey Nikolov and in 1937 he finish the academy of Art with a gold medal. The following places are Paris, Madrid and America. In the end he stops in Rome and as he says, the reason are the italians - "the freest nation that I've ever seen, a true daily poetry, which perhaps they themselves do not suspect. "
Ilia Peikov is the youngest brother of Asen Peikov. He went to Italy a little bit later, when Asen already have paved the trail. Firstly Ilia helps his brother in casting the statues, he also takes part of building the sculpture of Leonardo Da Vinci, but after that he takes the road of fine art. But if we have to definite Ilia's art, than we could name him the painter of the Cosmos. Not coincidentally, when Gagarin goes to his studio in piazza della Pigna, near the Pantheon in Rome, the astronaut remains open-mouthed. He asks Ilia how he was able to recreate what only he has seen. Immersed in three-dimensional space landscapes, the audience seem to fall into weightlessness, standing in the afterlife airless space. Perhaps in the vast confines of the universe, Ilia was searching the seed that comes from mankind and nature, with the beauties and the mysteries that he keeps in himself. I think that when we talk about the two brothers we shouldn't speak about them...