The exhibition is devoted to Sofia’s sculptural and architectural monuments as the carriers of urban memory. It features paintings, drawings and contemporary art form works created between the early 1900’s and the present day.
Highlights of the exhibition feature the images of both emblematic and controversial city landmarks. Among the former are the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the St Sofia Church, the Monument to the Tsar Liberator, while the latter include the Monument to the Soviet Army, the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum, the “1300 years of Bulgaria” Monument. There are also the images of landmark city parks, gardens and squares, which comprise part of the building blocks of the city’s organism. Each of the aforementioned landmarks is presented in several works of art created at various points in time during the abovementioned period. This allows a comparison between images of the same landmark, thus revealing the changing perception of the city – starting from the intimate atmosphere exuded by old Sofia, through the monumentality of the 1970’s and up till the present day and the traumatic changes associated with it. Comparison between individual artistic approaches does not only point to stylistic diversity, but also to a variety of personal stances. The interpretation of a specific monument turns into a litmus test for historical change.
Elaborating on urban memory, we inevitably turn to material culture monuments that are old enough to reflect the attitudes of various generations. Being symbols of the city, they become part of its inhabitants’ DNA, encoding their belonging to the place on a subconscious level. Therefore taking care of those monuments is equivalent to sustaining our own harmonious functioning. Paintings by numerous artists feature the said monuments and this has not happened by mere accident, but rather as part of the constant process of tracing our roots, creating a unique portrait of a city’s population through the symbols that outlive it.
The Sofia City Art Gallery collection features hundreds of art works having captured the essence of Sofia. Through them the images of buildings, both existing and irreversibly lost ones, live on. They could also serve as a constant reminder of the fact that the destruction of any such monument inevitably destroys the balance of the sophisticated city organism.
Exhibition catalogue available. Curator – Maria Vasileva.