The exhibition is an attempt at seeking answers about how artists perceive and interpret the icon in secular artworks, what is the icon’s symbolic value, and how mediaeval and Revival-period figurativeness and aesthetics influence the artistic language of modern authors. The chronological framework is delineated by the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 and the year 1989, thus covering two broader major periods – before and after World War II.
The exhibition presents over 100 works grouped into several thematic sections. The earliest artworks include creations of the foreign-born artists Joseph Oberbauer, Josef Pitter, and Ivan Mrkvička who arrived in Bulgaria soon after the Liberation. A new and significant page in the history of Bulgarian fine arts was opened up in the 1920s. Mediaeval art clearly exerted its impact on the artistic output of several 1920s authors. Icons, church murals and the adornment of manuscript books with their specific plastic language were rendered into significant sources of ideas. The exhibition comprises works by Ivan Milev, Ivan Penkov, Tsanko Lavrenov, Boris Denev, etc., which are emblematic of the 1920s arts and culture. Another collection of artworks traces the image of the icon that complements the “truthfulness” of historical compositions or serves as an intermediary to a new spiritual dimension. The list of emblematic Bulgarian artists whose works are exhibited includes Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, Iliya Beshkov, Dechko Uzunov, Atanas Patsev, Dimitar Kirov, Rumen Skorchev, Lika Yanko, Ivan Vukadinov, etc.
The exhibition includes art works from the collections of Sofia City Art Gallery, National Gallery, Museum House “Ivan Lazarov “, National Art Academy Museum Collection, Studio-gallery “Dechko Uzunov”, Tsanko Lavrenov Foundation, Art Gallery Donation “Collection Svetlin Rousev”- Pleven, art galleries in Stara Zagora, Sliven, Pazardzhik, Kazanlikq, Plovdiv, Rousse, Kyustendil,Veliko Turnovo and Private Collections.
Curator: Lyuben Domozetski