2015 marks the eight release of the BAZA Award for Contemporary Art Competition. The only one of its kind in Bulgaria, the award is aimed at artists aged 35 and under and grants a travel allowance and a month and a half residency in New York City. The competition is held in two rounds. Every year in spring a specialist jury shortlists four to eight young artists, who subsequently showcase their works in a general exhibition. On the opening day of the exhibition the jury sit yet again to select the winner of the award based on the artists’ exhibited works.
On the programme of the New York City residency, organized by the Foundation for a Civil Society, are meetings with curators, visits to galleries and art institutions, opportunities for cooperation with international artists as well as a chance for the artist to hold an exhibition and present their work. Enhanced professional contacts are also the result of BAZA’s being part of a network of similar awards competitions in about a dozen countries in Central and Eastern Europe (YVAA).
In Bulgaria BAZA goes back to the year 2008 when it was proposed by Maria Vassileva and set up by the Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia. Upon completion of their residencies, award winners are granted a further opportunity of holding a solo exhibition at the ICA Gallery in Sofia. As a project partner the Sofia City Art Gallery offers its space and cooperation in organizing the nominees’ exhibition, whose curator is Daniela Radeva.
So far, winners of the BAZA Award have been: Rada Boukova (2008), Samuil Stoyanov (2009), Anton Terziev (2010), Vikenti Komitski (2011), Leda Ekimova (2012), Kiril Kuzmanov (2013) and Zoran Georgiev (2014).
The jury members for the 2015 competition are: Galina Dimitrova-Dimova (curator), Ivana Nencheva (artist), Vessela Nozharova (curator), Diana Popova (critic), Sasho Stoitzov (artist). For the past three years also sitting on the jury in the second round has been a US curator, holder of a Vilcek Foundation scholarship. This year this is Boshko Boskovic, an art historian and curator, Program Director of Residency Unlimited, New York.
Stela Vasileva was born in 1983 in Lovech. In 2006 she graduated in Mural Painting from the National Academy of Art. Between 2010 and 2015 she held six solo exhibitions. She is the winner of the Gaudenz B. Ruf Award for young artists (2010) and the First Prize for Fine Art in the National Competition for Young Artists, Critics and Curators of the St Cyril and St Methodius International Foundation (2009). Her work includes paintings, installations, objects and photography. She was a BAZA Award nominee in 2013. She lives in Sofia.
Vladislav Georgiev was born in 1979 in Sofia. In 2006 he graduated in Interior Design from the University of Applied Sciences in Rosenheim, Germany. He has experience in restoration and fashion design. He is the founder of the Nefela Bags fashion label. From 2008 to 2014 he organized eleven solo exhibitions in Sofia, Munich and Berlin. His work includes drawings, objects and installations. He lives in Sofia.
Kristina Irobalieva was born in 1982 in Sofia. In 2006 she graduated from the National School of Fine Arts at the Villa Arson, Nice. In 2007 and 2008 she specialized at the Geneva University of Art and Design. Her work includes paintings and installations. She has held three solo exhibitions in Paris and Geneva. She lives in Geneva.
Pavel Lefterov was born in1994 in Sofia. Since 2013 he has been a fine art student at the University of the Arts London – Wimbledon College of Arts. In 2010 he received the Academic Drawing Award of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. He was a BAZA Award nominee in 2012. His work includes predominantly paintings. He lives between London and Sofia.
Desislava Unger was born in 1980 in Sofia. In 2005 she graduated in Painting from NAA and in 2010 in Graphic Art from the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Between 2010 and 2014 she held eight solo exhibitions in Austria and Bulgaria. In 2005 and 2006 she received awards in the National Competition for Young Artists, Critics and Curators of the St Cyril and St Methodius International Foundation. Her work includes graphic art and drawings. She lives in Vienna.
Aleksandra Chaushova was born in 1985 in Sofia. In 2009 she graduated in Graphic Art from NAA. In 2012 she specialized in Painting at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf). Since 2012 she has been a PhD student of Art and Art Sciences at the Free University of Brussels. In 2010 she was a resident of the WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels. In 2015 she was nominated for the Faber-Castell International Drawing Award. Her work includes predominantly drawings and objects. She lives in Brussels.
The BAZA award winner for 2015 is Alexandra Chaushova