Petko Kadiev: Painter, Illustrator and Designer
Petko and Eva-Maria Kadiev’s house is filled with memories of the places they’ve lived and the people they’ve known and loved. Not photographs, but large canvases whose energetically colorful palette conveys the intense intimacy that artist Petko recalled the scene. Whether a view from the couples’ patio in Pacific Palisades or of Campanet, the ancient village on Majorca, or his wife, his kids, his neighbors, Petko left a living memory book.
While a short glimpse of Petko’s life pales in the light of his own autobiography, “In the Heat of the Cold War,” his circuitous nine decades describe a man whose ambition, passion and luck led him from his birth in 1925 in Burgas on the Bulgarian side of the Black Sea to Pacific Palisades.
When he was a teenager, his family moved to the capital Sofia, where Petko completed his early education and attended the Karl Marx Institute for political and economic sciences. Demonstrating what was to be a lifelong political consciousness, he declined his degree and instead pursued a career in graphic design and film.
In 1956, he had the opportunity to travel to work in the film studios in East Germany, making sure to feign allegiance to the Stalinist regimen. After being accepted on an exchange program with the film academy in East Berlin, he escaped to West Berlin, where he declared himself a political refugee and got involved in the political struggle between East and West.
Accepting a job with Radio Free Europe proved to be a conduit to his eventual immigration to the United States. Not however alone, Petko met his future wife Eva-Maria just months before his departure. The couple married, and shortly after Petko left for Hollywood, followed by his new wife upon receiving her visa. They arrived in 1960.
After four years at Disney Studios, Petko broke into the major studios as an illustrator and art director on such film as “Clueless” starring Alicia Silverstone and “Out to Sea,” starring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau.
For his original contributions, he was honored with a voting membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
While Petko retired from the film industry in 2001, he continued conjuring his world on canvas in vibrant colorful gestures while living on the island of Majorca, and 14 years later when he returned home to Pacific Palisades.
He leaves behind his wife, children and two grandsons.