The exhibition features portraits created between the late 19th century and the early 21 century by various generations of artists. The broad time span allows the viewer to follow the transformations in the mutual perceptions of artists.
The exhibition reveals the popularity of the genre of portrait painting, the quality of artistic output, as well as the interest demonstrated in artists and critics as models. It may be viewed as part of a succession of exhibitions that started with the “Self-portrait. Visible Image and Hidden Meaning” exhibition hosted by the Sofia City Art Gallery in 2006. While the “Self-portrait” explores the artist’s view of himself/herself, the current exhibition reveals the life of an artistic community as depicted by insiders through the modifications in the meaning of the artist-to-artist and artist-to-critic relationships.
Traditionally, Bulgarian portrait painting is characterized by emphasis on form, relatively sustainable compositional patterns and formal setting. Portraits featured in the exhibition can be grouped into several categories, reflecting the trends in an artistic dialogue. Those are portraits documenting a personal relationship (an intimate relationship, relationship between spouses), portraits documenting the parent-child relationship within the context of continuity between generations, portraits presenting informal artistic circles and friendly societies, and portraits documenting an actual event in the life of the artistic community or revealing institutionalized communication. Portrait painting as a type of communication can be found in the so called “pair portraits”, where artists belonging to the same or different generations have portrayed each other.
Portrait painting is a type of communication. When there is such interaction going on between an artist and a critic things become multifaceted and complicated. The role of the critic has changed through the years. The portrayal of the images of prominent art and literary critics belonging to different periods in the history of Bulgarian art reveals yet another layer of life on the Bulgarian art scene.
The exhibition features canvases created in the period between 1898 and 2010, part of them being brought to the attention of the public and researchers for the first time. The CD-ROM available at the exhibition features 165 artworks by 98 artists.
The works featured in the exhibition belong to the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery, “Svetlin Rousev” Atelier Collection, National Academy of Arts, Art Gallery - Varna, Art Gallery - Vidin, Art Gallery - Dimitrovgrad, Art Gallery - Pazardzhik, Art Gallery - Pleven, Art Gallery - Plovdiv, Art Gallery - Kazanluk, Art Gallery - Kyustendil, Art Gallery - Sliven, Art Gallery - Stara Zagora, Art Gallery - Strazhitsa, Art Gallery - Turgoviste, Art Gallery - Razgrad, Art Gallery - Rouse, Art Gallery - Shoumen, “Old Plovdiv” Municipal Institute, the Union of Bulgarian Artists and private collections.
Curator: Daniela Chulova-Markova