History, Immigration and Shifting Borders: Passport Maps by Yanko Tihov

Originally from Bulgaria, award-winning London-based painter and printmaker Yanko Tihov (born 1977) has a number of portraits and surreal works on urban life in his portfolio – but he is most famous for his “passport maps” that are inspired by history, immigration and our changing world.

The series displays continents and countries during different time periods – the British empire, the Cold War, the current era. The boundaries of nations are filled with the faces of their respective passports. Sometimes, as in the case of a global city like London, passports from all over the world come together to make up and illuminate the demographics of one large territory. The texts, seals and coats of arms in every painting are adorned with real 24 carat gold.


Yanko Tihov at Work (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Yanko with his World Passport Map (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Overall the passport series serves as a reminder of the laws and jurisdictions which bind individuals and offers unique examples of contemporary cartography that beautifully captures the borders of today’s world. The pieces also “humanise” the globe. Often, while looking at a plain geographic map, we tend to only register landmasses and water bodies and miss the fact that each and every state, no matter how foreign and distant, has individuals just like us – with a home and perhaps a desire to travel. These inventive maps highlight the existence of concrete identities and personalities.

Yanko Tihov attended the National Academy of Arts, Sofia for a BA in Fine Arts and Printmaking (1997-2001). He studied at Art College “N. Raynov” from 1993 to 1997, where he specialised in oil painting and illustration. Yanko is represented by TAG Fine ArtsStore Street GalleryLisa Sharpe Contemporary Art and Jack Fine Art. Recent exhibitions include London Art FairAAF New York and AAF Hong Kong.

Links: Website (www.yankotihov.co.uk) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/yanko.tihov) | Twitter (@YankoTihov) | Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanko_Tihov)

Images used with permission.


World Passport Map (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


British Empire (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Europe 1930s (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Cold War Europe (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Europe 1960s (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


North America 1960s/Cold War (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


North America (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Australasia (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Asia (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Africa (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


Europe (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


South America (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


London Passport Map (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)


New York Tri-State Map (Courtesy of TAG Fine Arts)