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Traits and Curation in Iskra Velitchkova's ESCAPE

ESCAPE features seven traits of the collection captured in the metadata of the digital artworks that provide us new ways to display the work honoring the series' visual qualities.

With echoes of brutalist architecture and analog photography, ESCAPE symbolizes the mental freedom that comes from losing oneself in art. Madrid-based Bulgarian artist Iskra Velitchkova developed her series ESCAPE in an effort to slow down after two frenetic years of the pandemic. The resulting artwork guides viewers toward this same pace change. You can read more about its development in the feature "Introducing ESCAPE by Iskra Velitchkova".

The visual features that constitute each work in ESCAPE are minimalist, but their combination is visually complex and illusive. This article describes the seven traits of the collection captured in the metadata of the digital artworks, as well as ways to collect and display the work that honor its visual qualities.


Every piece in the collection has either a dark or a light background — split approximately 1/3 and 2/3, respectively. Dark backgrounds include both black and dark grey.

Many collectors have chosen to purchase one or two of each background and hang the works together as a study in contrast.

escape #275

escape #275

0.15 ETH

($486.83 USD)

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escape #85

escape #85

0.23112 ETH

($750.12 USD)

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Compositional Traits

Each work in ESCAPE contains at least one of the four compositional traits: Map, Secrets, Bang!, and Opera. Only a few rare works have two compositional features (e.g., Bang! and Opera).


ESCAPE began in an exploration of systems that balanced order and chaos on a months-long trip away from the patterns of home. A distinctive aesthetic emerged in one of these systems — the illusion of an architectural map.

Works with the “map” composition feature delicate lines reminiscent of brutalist architecture. “Map” works are often symmetric along one or two axes. Some “map” works fill the composition, while others are smaller scale, with a dense map in the center of the image.

ESCAPE #47 by Iskra Velitchkova

ESCAPE #47 by Iskra Velitchkova

White background, Map trait

ESCAPE #150 by Iskra Velitchkova

ESCAPE #150 by Iskra Velitchkova

Dark background, Map trait


In the Secrets composition, a solid form of blinding white or dark black obscures the picture plane. Iskra Velitchkova describes Secrets as a place for your mind to rest within a busy composition. This compositional trait invites prolonged contemplation and welcomes you, the viewer, to infer what is eclipsed by the opaque forms.

escape #3

escape #3


During the creative process, Velitchkova decides to push this austere landscape further, breaking the standard cube, introducing new shapes, and looking for deeper resonance.

Works with the Bang! composition are distinct. A dimensional cylinder with dark inlets dramatizes to the composition. The exclamation mark in the name references the way the tower forms emphatically pierce the work, calling to mind the exclamation mark in its visual shape as well as its sentiment. In many of the works, the tower form dominates the composition.

Of the compositional traits, Bang! appears least often, representing less than 7% of the collection.

ESCAPE #122 by Iskra Velitchkova, Bang trait

ESCAPE #122 by Iskra Velitchkova

Light background, Bang! trait


In works with the Opera trait, the opera house appears as icon, echoing the interior organization of an opera house in the multi-faceted cylinder that appears frequently in the collection.

While the other three compositional features are represented with a binary “Yes” / ”No” in the metadata, the Opera trait is represented as “Opera” / ”Broken Opera” / ”No”.

Opera have all cylinders on the same axes whereas Broken Opera have different orientations.

ESCAPE #40 by Iskra Velitchkova

ESCAPE #40 by Iskra Velitchkova

Light background, Broken Opera trait

Stylistic Features

Three of the ESCAPE traits are stylistic in nature: the background of the work, as well as the Shake and Silent traits.


Shake is formed by quick repetition of one shape, resulting in a frenetic movement. There are only 16 works in the collection that have the Shake trait.


In a collection featuring such strong geometry, the twelve Silent works stand out. These works do not have a lot of lines; instead, the works feature large vertical forms and distortions. The geometries are more muted, mimicking the nature of silence.

ESCAPE #171 by Iskra Velitchkova, Shake trait

ESCAPE #171 by Iskra Velitchkova

Light background, Shake trait

ESCAPE #272 by Iskra Velitchkova, Silent trait

ESCAPE #272 by Iskra Velitchkova

Dark background, Silent trait

Blended Traits

A few rare works have two compositional features.

ESCAPE #173 by Iskra Velitchkova Bang-Shake

ESCAPE #173 by Iskra Velitchkova

Dark background, Bang! trait, Shake trait

Collecting Sets

Curating and collecting a set of Velitchkova’s work allows for greater appreciation of the subtleties of each work.

  • Collecting a light and a dark background of the same compositional element provides an opportunity for comparing and contrasting the works, and truly highlights both the deepest black and the blinding white in printed form.

  • In many of our previews (including the one shown below on the left), we’ve opted to curate a set of four showcasing one of each compositional feature: Map, Secrets, Bang, and Opera. We’ve then hung these in a 2 by 2 grid, alternating dark and light backgrounds if included.

  • Collectors have acquired one of each of the compositional & stylistic features: Map, Secrets, Bang!, Opera, Broken Opera, Silent, and Shake.

  • Other collectors have acquired a set based on a compositional element, such as these Operas shown below on the right.

Set of 4 Works from ESCAPE by Iskra Velitchkova, Viewed by Annie

Set of four works from ESCAPE by Iskra Velitchkova, on display in San Francisco

Set of Four Operas in ESCAPE by Iskra Velitchkova

Set of four works from ESCAPE by Iskra Velitchkova, featuring the Opera or Broken Opera traits.

Hanging a grouping of works from ESCAPE creates an exploration of weight, geometry, and light that commands attention.

To learn more about acquiring a work from ESCAPE, view the series at tonic.xyz.

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