PLACES OF PLEASURE
31 October 2017 - 26 November 2017
Antoaneta Galabova, Ivaylo Dinev, Iliyana Kancheva, Kosta Tonev, Krassimir Terziev, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Lyubomir Ignatov, Maria Tsaneva, Martin Penev, Miná Minov, Miryana Todorova, Pavel Naydenov, Peter Mintchev, Vasilena Gankovska, Valko Chobanov
The Multipolis initiative originates from the city, which, among other things, is broad enough to offer space and allow creative freedom and opportunities for interaction between various disciplines. Art, music and theory are the fields the organizers from The Fridge are willing to get into direct dialogue with one another.
Multipolis started as an open invitation to young artists, musicians and theorists specializing in the humanities. A small group of young people from various fields, namely visual artists, art theorists, sociologists, musicians, got together. They have been working with artists Luchezar Boyadjiev and Krassimir Terziev, sociologist Lea Vajsova and philosopher Dimitar Bozhkov, as well as with music theorist Iliya Gramatikov. They are not supposed to stay within a specified framework, i. e. each participant may focus on the aspect of the city that offers and speaks to him/her the most. Major themes/issues/locations take shape and are marked on the city map – the Hristo Botev quarter, Student Town, parks and recreation venues, the subcultural sexual practice called cruising, etc. Some participants picked out a specific venue, others focused on a specific phenomenon, still others chose to look at the environment surrounding them, at people and their lifestyle, as well as the dynamic between the latter and the city.
The exhibition features works by project participants, by external artists whose works present pleasure venues in the city, as well as works from the permanent collection of the Sofia City Art Gallery.
The artists included in the exhibition differ drastically in terms of the means of artistic expression, highlights and approaches they employ in exploring urban themes. It is pleasure that their works have in common, as regardless of its problems, ugliness, dirtiness, ghettos, or gentrified areas, the city is also a venue of pleasures. Some of them are small, almost insignificant pleasures like games played by children in the street, while others are secretive like cruising, voyeurism or gambling. Still other works reveal the visual pleasures of architecture, streets and urban landscapes, be they in the old part of town, or in Sofia’s residential areas riddled with buildings made of concrete panels. Yet pleasure is always short-lived, imaginary or deceptive. That is why the exhibition seeks to find out what lies behind the picture-perfect venues of pleasure.
The Multipolis project was initiated and organized by The Fridge with kind support from the Culture program of the capital city municipality, the St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia, and Goethe-Institut Bulgaria.
The Pleasure Venues Exhibition was organized under the Multipolis project. Curated by Stefka Tsaneva, it was realized in partnership with the Sofia City Art Gallery and Goethe-Institut Bulgaria.
19 September 2017 - 22 October 2017
IN THE SHADOW OF THE ORIENT
14 September 2017 - 26 November 2017
This is the first international project of this kind initiated by a Bulgarian institution. It aims at presenting a visual narrative through the works of some of the most prominent artists of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia, who worked actively in the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. The research team of the exhibition was focused on the subject of the specific development of art on the Balkans in the shadow of the Orient and it offers the public an opportunity for encounter with authors and works that are emblematic for the art history of the four Balkan states.
As an illustration of the way the Westerner thinks of the Balkans, Maria Todorova quotes Arthur Douglas Howden Smith, an American journalist and an established adventurer who not only contributes as correspondent of the New York newspaper Evening Post, but also takes part in the Bulgarian national struggles for liberation as a soldier. He describes his first impressions of Sofia from 1907 noting that the city may disappoint the tourist looking for picturesque scenes since it has electricity by then, trams and it is, to a certain extent, a developed city. “Yet the disappointment is going to be only on the surface, ”Sofia is not that civilized as to lose the fascination of the old world, the spicy flavor of the East. The façade of civilization affected in a superficial way only some of the aspects while others were not changed in any noticeable way. When you step out of the corridor of the clean yellowish Sofia railway station, you feel instinctively that Europe is now behind you and you stay in the shadow of the Orient.”” According to the Westerner, the fascination of the Balkans is brought about by the Southern Sun’s rays, pure nature and, most importantly, the people, their inner life, their true emotions, even the everyday life – it lacks any superficiality and is close to the natural state of affairs, uncontaminated by modernization.
Certain notions and their reverberations through culture constitute the main research focus of the exhibition. These are the ideas stemming from the oppositions “one’s own – foreign”, “Occident - Orient”, as well as the place of the Balkans in this global discourse. Due to the extremely valuable help of National Gallery – Alexandros Soutzos Museum (Greece), Matica Srpska Gallery, Bucharest Municipal Museum and the regional galleries in the country, the Sofia City Art Gallery proudly presents works of some of the most prominent authors from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia. Many of the presented artists received their education abroad and, knowing at least intuitively the Western way of thinking of the Balkans, they are able to create works of art that are on the one hand included in the tradition of the Western-European painting, but on the other – art works functioning as definitive for the borders of the one’s own in cultural aspect. In the 19th and the early 20th centuries, in the paintings of those artists who laid the foundation of the “new” secular painting in their countries, we can research the idyllic notion of the one’s own and the ordinary life, the close Otherness of the different cultures within the community, and the distant Otherness of the Orient that is simultaneously characterized by civilizational violation and exotics.
For these reasons, the interest for the close and the distant Other persists and throughout the 20th century, it expands, at least as far as Bulgarian artists are considered. While the topics related to foreign cultures in the community are still present, the trips to distant, unknown countries become affordable for the schooled authors, which opens new horizons to them. With the rise of the artistic agenda of Modernism, the descriptive paintings from the early years after the National Liberation disappear. Fascinated and inspired by the distant cultures, the artists portray them in their works in a new manner. Thus squares bathing in the Southern Sun, markets with artisans, coffee shops with opium smokers, harems and odalisques, imaginary baths, all are present in the painting of the 20th century. The artists discover what is appropriate for their temperament and they add their new manner of painting to the the charm of the Orient. A kind of Other view of the East marked by the historically and geographically determined relation of the Balkan artist to the shadow of the Orient.
In this sense, the exhibition In the Shadow of the Orient, developed as a sequel to the conference Orientalism and the Balkans held in March 2017 with contributions by a number of established scholars, for the first time presents a visual narrative on the place of the Balkans in the large topic of Orientalism as a cultural concept that is not restricted to the field of art-studies. The most prominent theoreticians of the topic remain Eduard Said and Maria Todorova. Moreover, by means of the present exhibition, the team of the project creates an opportunity of tracing the reflections of the dichotomies “one’s own - foreign”, “We – The Others”, “Europe - Balkans”, “East - West”. These are civilizational reflections that show us the versatility achieved through encounters and coexistence of different cultures and ethnoses. It is versatility the world of today tries to cope with. In the context of the contemporary political processes, our world deals with these issues sometimes through dialogue and tolerance, other times – through aggression. Hence the exhibition In the Shadow of the Orient shall be viewed as a chance for one to get acquainted with the past experience. It is a chance to find new ways of conceptualizing the present day cultural chaos that has engulfed our epoch – an epoch when the true encounter with the Other is getting ever more difficult. These difficulties, albeit strange at first sight, can be proven completely explainable.
The visual material of the exhibition is systematized in several conventional topics. Audio-guides for the topics are prepared with additional information for the visitors.
In October the catalogue of the exposition shall be presented, as well as the scholarly collection of the papers from the scientific conference held in March 2017.
The project is developed in partnership with the National Gallery of Greece in Athens, the National Gallery of Romania in Bucharest, and the Gallery of Matica Srpska in Serbia, and with the valuable support of the Ministry of Culture, the Sofia Municipality, the Embassy of Greece in Bulgaria, the Embassy of Romania in Bulgaria, the Embassy of Bulgaria in Greece, 13 Centuries of Bulgaria Foundation, National Fund Culture.
This exhibition could not be realized without the support and professional work of the teams of the National Gallery in Sofia, the Archives State Agency, the National Library “St. Cyril and Methodius” and many of the galleries in the country.
Exhibition of BAZA Award for Contemporary Art Nominees
20 June 2017 - 30 July 2017
The BAZA Award for contemporary art was established in 2008. The award’s statistics include: nine successfully completed fellowships of Bulgarian artists in New York City, forty-three exhibition nominees, 277 submitted portfolios, and 27 artists, curators and representatives of institutions who acted as members of the jury.
The exhibition aims to present each nominee in the best possible light. Artists present mostly new works, specifically created for the contest, or works created in the past year.
The jury’s choice of a winner is based on various criteria, namely: recognizing new names without ignoring nominees from previous years, who show promise; nominees’ competitiveness on the international art scene; their basic knowledge of 20th century art, and the relevance of their work to the world of today.
The BAZA award winner for 2017 is Martina Vacheva.
• DIRECTIONS • IVAN MILEV (1897 – 1927) •
16 June 2017 - 06 August 2017
This exhibition is organized and presented to the public as an expression of reverence to one of the most original aesthetic phenomena in Bulgarian visual arts of the 1920s, Ivan Milev. At the same time, as is the case with many major exhibition projects implemented in the past, it marks another anniversary – 120 years since the birth of the artist and 90 years since the untimely end of his life and creative work.
The name of the exposition is Directions, as it is an attempt to illustrate or at least outline some of the genre (easel and mural painting, drawing, illustration, stage design) or thematic spheres of artistic interest in the known or preserved part of Ivan Milev’s fine art production. Here one can see works that trace the connection with the national or fairy-tale element in his art, with the themes of religion, mysticism, fatalism, with the Native art movement and Secession, with the decorative style and the short-lived Bulgarian modernism.
The exhibition includes several works that are part of private collections. The viewers can discover the artist’s creative work, including a number of paintings that are not well-known or have not been displayed for decades.
The exhibition comprises works from Kazanlak Art Gallery, National Gallery – Sofia, National Academy of Arts, Sofia City Art Gallery, National Museum of Literature, Art Gallery “Dimiter Dobrovich” – Sliven, Stara Zagora Art Gallery, Art Gallery “Kiril Petrov” – Montana, Art Gallery “Hristo Tsokev” – Gabrovo, Ruse Art Gallery and a number of private collections. The exposition was realized in partnership with Kazanlak Art Gallery which preserves the largest part of Ivan Milev’s artistic heritage. In the fall, the exhibition will be presented in the artist’s home town.
The team of Sofia City Art Gallery would like to thank Academician Svetlin Rusev, Prof. Milena Georgieva, Prof. Marin Dobrev, Architect Alexander Todorov and Emil Chushev for their cooperation in tracing several artworks.
Philip Zidarov– curator
12 June 2017 - 09 July 2017
The idea about the Bronze House originated some ten years ago and naturally evolved in the works of the Bulgarian-Austrian artist Plamen Dejanoff. This is his most large-scale, renowned and commprehensive project that involves a lot of European museums, foundations, galleries, collectors, patrons, and experts in the field of modern art, history, architecture and urbanistics.
The Bronze House focuses on various aspects of art in social environment and its inter-relatedness with social processes, problems of modern cities, attitudes to hisotry, memory and cultural heritage.
There is a compound of houses in Arbanasi that host impressive wood-carvings, metal works and stone details as well as rich records of some 20,000 documents related to Bulgarian history from 13th to mid-20th century. The records include further several texts by Le Corbusier dedicated to the details in the Bulgarian medieval architecture.
Inspired by all this, Plamen Dejanoff sets about restoring missing details from the houses‘ decoration and turning houses in individual works of art that are in the heart of the project.
The Bronze House is the largest sculpture-house in the world made entirely and only by massive bronze. It is 14-metre high, and the foundations are seven metre by seven metre. It is made by more than 1,000 hand-cast and processed massive bronze elements.
The precious colour of the metal and its fine processing refer to the archaelogival monuments found in Bulgaria. The structure of the sculpture is made by alternating rectangular elements whose composition is inspired by the wood-carvings typical for the Bulgarian Revival. The overall plan inevitably calls for associations with the Tower of Hrelyu of the Rila Monastery.
At the same time the stylistics of the Bronze House is markedly modern and drawing on modern urban environment and modern technologies. Thus the sculpture turns into a powerful symbol of the symbiosis of past, present and future.
It is envisaged that the Bronze House will be erected at the end of 2017 and opened in the beginning of 2018 at the place of the former mausoleum in Alexander Batenberg Square in Sofia, a key place for Bulgarian post-liberation, new and modern history. After the mausoleum was destroyed in 1999, nothing significant happened in this area of the city. The square appears desolate and empty from any content. It often provokes debates and disussions, but not a single adequate urbanistic concept could be identified for it during the last 20 years.
The Bronze House is a functional architectural object. Inside the building there is a large space (a hall) that is open for the general public and is envisaged to serve as a stage for various events such as concerts, theatre performances, exhibitions, congresses etc. The Sofia City Municipality may use the Bronze House for its annual cultural calendar. This is precisely the social significance of the Bronze House. The cycle modern art – modern urbanistics – social significance will be successfully accomplished producing a side-effect for the general public.
The Sofia City Art Gallery presents Plamen Dejanoff’s newest work – a model of the Sofia City centre and the location of the Bronze House. The artist further created a special limited circulation of posters dedicated to the project. They will be presented side by side with various covers of international magazines that published articles about the Bronze House.
Curator Boris Kostadinov
The European Union declared 2018 a European year of the cultural heritage. Bulgaria and Austria will hold the EU presidency in the same year.
The Bronze House and its erection in Sofia is the official proposal of the Republic of Austria to Bulgaria in connection with the cultural cooperation between the two countries during their presidencies.
Born in 1970 in Veliko Tarnovo. Works and lives in Vienna and Veliko Tarnovo.
Graduated the National Academy of Arts in Sofia and subsequently studied in Pratt Institute, New York. In 1997 he graduated Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna with a master’s degree in sculpture in the class of Prof. Michelangelo Pistoletto.
H e was awarded by Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna as early as 1992. Then followed awards by Goldenen Heinrich Friedrich Fuegerpreis der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna; Meisterschullpreis der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna; Kunstpreis der Stadt Hamburg, Hamburg, etc., as well as fellowships such as MAK Rudolph M. Schindler, MAK Centre, Los Angeles, MOMBUSHO, Musashino Art University, Tokyo, IASPIS, The Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, Stockholm.
Plamen Dejanoff has had more than 300 exhibitions in the last 20 years, 60 of which individual.
The larger individual exhibitions have been in MUMOK Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, MAK Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, MAMBO Museo d ́Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna, Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, 21er Haus Museum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Vienna, MSU Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, GFZK Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, L’ELAC, l’espace lausannois d’art contemporain, Lausanne, NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aahen.
Plamen Dejanoff has participated with his works in group exhibitions in various museums such as Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, MOMA, New York, MOT Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Kunsthalle, Zurich and many more.
He has also participated in bienials in Berlin, Shanghai, Prague, Melburn and Cairo as well as in the European biennial Manifesta.
Me, Myself and the EU
09 May 2017 - 11 June 2017
Me, Myself and EU is Alex Majoli’s exploration of Europe’s contemporary social and political issues and its identity crisis through three key characters:
The emergent far-right: The rise of fiercely anti-immigrant far-right parties such as the French National Front and the Danish People’s Party play a key role in shaping Europe’s new image in response to the migrant and refugee crisis.
They receive a disproportionate share of media attention, augmenting their theatrical role and their ability to impact on how the majority of people perceive the story of this crisis unfolding.
Individual migrants and refugees’ assimilation experiences in Europe: The dramatic scenes of migrants and refugees fleeing their war-torn and poverty-stricken homes and arriving exhausted at southern European beaches and eastern European borders are but one commencing moment in a long process of acceptance and assimilation - or lack thereof.
The fragmenting receiving societies: Conflicts at several layers of European society are playing out in response to the refugee and migrant crisis. A general divide between Eastern and Western Europe is materializing, raising sensitive questions about whether countries like Hungary share compatible values with others like Germany and Sweden. Friction is being laid bare within European regions, too, as the arrival of refugees and migrants is revealing a hardline current in countries that are generally assumed to be among the most inclusive and tolerant.
With this project, shown for the first time in Sofia State Art Gallery, Majoli aims to invite the audience to question what is happening with the ideology of Europe as a whole and xenophobia, the refugee crisis and the extreme right wing across the entire continent in specific. His approach to this concept aims to challenge the viewer’s understanding of reality, by drawing attention to the masks we wear as actors playing our roles in society.
Alex Majoli created the exhibition "Me, Myself and EU" invited by Fotofabrika Foundation. He visited Bulgaria in April this year, because My first show in Bulgaria cannot miss a Bulgarian footage.
14 March 2017 - 30 April 2017
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