Masters of Photography
27 March 2018 - 22 April 2018
Mary Ellen Mark achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. She published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. For over five decades, she traveled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. She is recognized as one of our most respected and influential photographers. Her images of our world's diverse cultures have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. Her portrayals of Mother Teresa, Indian circuses, and brothels in Bombay were the product of many years of work in India. A photo essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of the academy award nominated film STREETWISE, directed and photographed by her husband, Martin Bell.
20 March 2018 - 15 April 2018
In 1998, several like-minded friends decided to support Ivan Rusev’s idea about the creation of a sculpture park in the village of Ilindentsi, and went on to establish the Ilindentsi Art Center Foundation.
The beginning of this cultural venue can be traced as far back as 1992-1994 when Ivan Rusev succeeded in securing space for the venue in the village of Ilindentsi where the park keeps growing to this day. Initial support for the foundation included contributions by art connoisseur Zdravko Stoitsev, who supported the foundation for three years. The administration of the municipality of Strumyani, where the art center is being developed, provides substantial support to the initiative.
An area of 3 ha was gradually developed into a park including 47 artworks matching the natural scenery. Some of them, namely The Forum, a functioning amphitheater with seating capacity for more than 350 people; Lake Epiphany, where the race for the cross tossed in its waters takes place on the Christian holiday of Epiphany; and the stone-paved pathways, are large-scale projects within The Network sculptural project which came to life through the efforts of numerous participants. Naturally, they bring people from the village going through this Marble City or attending an event at the Center closer to contemporary sculpture.
Symposia and plein air painting events organized by the Art Center Ilindentsi Foundation over the past 20 years were attended by 164 artists from Bulgaria, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Israel, India, Canada, Mexico, Romania, the USA, Slovakia, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Japan. These events were notably attended by eight stone carvers from Sacuragawa, Japan, whose craft has been passed down through generations.
The exhibition presents sculptures and paintings by artists who participated in former actions, including Angel Stanev, Ani Pokrovnishka, Valentin Starchev, Dinko Stoev, Dolores Dilova, Emil Popov, Ivaylo Avramov, Ivaylo Mirchev, Ivan Rusev, Kalina Taseva, Cyril Meskin, Lyuben Genov, Milko Bozhkov, Monica Popova, Nina Ruseva, Svetlin Rusev, Svilen Blazhev, Stefan Lyutakov, Stoyan Tsanev.
The exhibition also features photographs of highlights of the sculpture park and of events organized by the Center. The photos are presented by: Darina Zlatareva, Stoyan Petkov, Mariana Ruseva, Marieta Konova, Tatyana Toteva, Cyril Valchev, Emil MIhaylov, etc.
The following films will be shown: Plain Shapes, director, writer: Stefan Dzhambazov, director of photography: Tsvetan Nedkov, 2004; The Marble City, director, director of photography: Gospodin Nedelchev, writer: Svetla Kamenova, 2007; Ilindentsi, Elevation 377, a film by Borimir Ilkov-Bono. A BNT reportage cycle of 4 films made between 2001 and 2008 will also be shown, director: Lyubka Borisova, writer Atanas Pironev, directors of photography: Alexander Karadzhov, Feodor Surgov.
The project was completed with kind support from the Culture Program of Capital City Municipal Administration.
In the Mirror, Dimly
20 February 2018 - 11 March 2018
Drawings on thermal rescue blankets, video art and the first mixed reality installation in Bulgaria are merged into one in Theodore Ushev’s most recent visual design project, In the mirror, dimly.
The project challenges the viewers to search for the hidden message, the meaning beyond the visible, the alternative point of view. It addresses the concept of individual and social fear and hypocrisy, of salvation and annihilation as individual and social acts.
The project features the first immersive installation to be put up in Bulgaria, which will introduce viewers to one of the most innovative and attractive trends in visual art with the help of a special helmet and goggles. They let the viewers into an alternative environment through optical illusion creating the impression that viewers are part of the action they see through the goggles.
Ushev has used mixed reality experimental technology in one of his modules. Mixed reality technology uses digital 3D pictures and images in a way that mixes them with the viewer’s surroundings. This results in an interactive experience of mixing the real and the virtual world where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
Besides the mixed reality video, Theodore Ushev will also create a film within the framework of the project In the mirror, dimly, which may be seen at the gallery, as well as an exhibition of the objects with the images they were created from.
Exploring the themes of vanity, deception, and salvation as a personal and social act, the artist ‘labels’ his drawings using hidden messages made visible exclusively through ultraviolet light. Using periphrases of and references to the books of Ecclesiastes and Corinthians, In the mirror, dimly contemplates the meaning and meaninglessness of life beyond the visible.
The artist has applied innovative technology specially developed for the installation by the Danish studio NVRMIND. The installation features sound bites by Angela Merkel, Boyko Borisov, Vladimir Putin, Volen Siderov, Donald Trump, Cornelia Ninova.
In the mirror, dimly is the first big solo project developed by Ushev in our country outside cinematography. Commissioned by governmental and private organizations, the artist has realized similar initiatives, exhibitions and installations in various venues around the world, including the Barbican in London /England/, the Museum of Civilization in Quebec /Canada/, Centraal Museum, Utrecht /the Netherlands/, Ljubljana /Slovenia/, Tokyo /Japan/, San Francisco /USA/, Annecy /France/, etc.
The project In the mirror, dimly was granted funding under the Culture Program of the Capital City Municipal Council, which worked in partnership with the Sofia City Art Gallery and the National Film Board of Canada. The exhibition was organized by the Moments Foundation and Kids House.
Producer and organizer: Desislava Bineva
Curator: Adelina Fileva
Luchezar Boyadjiev. Sic Transit Media Mundi (The Present is Too Short and Rather Tight)
14 February 2018 - 11 March 2018
Luchezar Boyadjiev is among the most prominent contemporary Bulgarian artists. A founding member of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia and an author with an extensive international practice, Boyadjiev is a public figure with a particularly significant critical stance in the Bulgarian art scene. As an artist, curator, lecturer, he contributes to the establishing of new definitions and art practices in the country.
This exhibition is his first retrospective in Bulgaria, which shows his experience of over 20 years of creative practice. It features works from the early 1990s until the present day, among them author's replicas and reconstructions of essential and rarely exhibited works. On display will be some of the artist's earliest works created in the chaotic times of euphoria and hopes for change immediately following the 1989 events. They have been exhibited primarily outside the country, and have been included in international historical exhibitions such as "Beyond Belief: Contemporary Art from East Central Europe", 1995, “After the Wall: Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe”, 1999, “Blood & Honey / Future’s in the Balkans”, 2003, and many more.
Over the years, the artist has participated in biennials, group exhibitions and conferences spanning from Sao Paulo to Santa Fe and Gwangju as well as almost everywhere in Europe. His works are part of many museum collections worldwide, the largest part of them in Bulgaria being owned by the Sofia City Art Gallery in its collection of contemporary art.
Luchezar Boyadjiev’s entire creative work represents an accurate, richly humourous, knowledgeable and critical visual study of the present. It reveals his extensive knowledge of the Bulgarian and international history of art as well as of the current problems of modernity. His works are related to the reorganization of social, ideological and religious power hierarchies, with the shift in values and a study of the relationships between personal and public space, global and local territories, with the search for the points of intersection of capitalism and democracy, consumerism and the new lifestyle patterns. The artist is interested in the issues of the memory and the past that defines the profile of various locations and circumstances, but also in possible projections into the future. His works bring the two vectors together to shape the identity of the present.
The curators of the exhibition are Iara Boubnova, Maria Vassileva, Vladiya Mihaylova and Daniela Radeva. It is organized with the support of “Culture” Program of the Sofia Municipality, ICA-Sofia, Edmond Demirdjian Foundation, Open Arts Foundation, FAC Design, MUSIZ Foundation, Dana and Georgi Voinov, Gaudenz B. Ruf, Kontakt Collection-Vienna, Collection Hohenthal und Bergen-Berlin, and Collection Rene Block-Berlin.
12 January 2018 - 04 February 2018
Ivan Moudov’s works are often provocations not only to the notion of art, but also to the concept of exhibition space, copyrights, institutions, boundaries of the work of art, etc. They comprise conceptual irregularities, which in turn indicate both the cracks and the capacity of the system of art, of what is allowed and forbidden, of its limits. The long-standing project for a gallery 0gms originated from a shared idea together with the artists Kamen Stoyanov and Steven Guermeur. The gallery, however, assumed another form and transformed, in itself, into a work of art through Ivan Moudov’s work. For a long time, 0gms was located in a drawer, which dwelled the spaces of various institutions, such as the kitchen of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia. Although it existed in the form of a “parasite” and went into a seemingly narrow space, the gallery managed to start its own programme and exhibit new authors on a regular basis. The 0gms Cabinet is its sequel, consisting of four different drawers housing solo exhibitions of various authors. It is, however, a work of art itself, a peculiar author’s object which has a life of its own in the gallery spaces as a gallery exhibiting other authors. According to the words of art critic Desislava Dimova, it aims at creating a mutual-benefit system for the artists inside it within the world of art.
Following exhibitions in Amsterdam, Milan, Vienna, Ljubljana and Plovdiv, 0gms will be presented within Ivan Moudov’s Solo Exhibition in Sofia City Art Gallery, in which you can see and learn more about the works of Marleen Andreev, Nicole Prutsch, Marie Chivikov and Jakob Schieche.
13 December 2017 - 04 February 2018
Svetozara Aleksandrova, Rada Boukova, Albena Baeva, Iskra Blagoeva, Ani Vaseva, Stela Vasileva, Borjana Ventzislavova, Vitto Valentinov, Leda Vaneva, Voin de Voin, Vasilena Gankovska, Stanimir Genov, Zoran Georgiev, Ivo Dimchev, Stoyan Dechev, Leda Ekimova, Yasen Zgurovski, Stefan Ivanov, Vikenti Komitski, Daniela Kostova, Lazar Lyutakov, Lubri, Miná Minov, Mihail Novakov, Bora Petkova, Svetlana Mircheva, Martin Penev, Boris Pramatarov, Kamen Stoyanov, Simeon Simeonov, Dimitar Solakov, Radostin Sedevchev, Anton Terziev, Kalina Terzieva, Anton Tsanev.
In December 2003, the Meeting Point Program for young artists and curators began at the Sofia City Art Gallery. For the first time in the recent history of our country, a museum institution brought to the focus of attention artists who were starting their careers, and provided them with a chance to show their works and projects. The purpose of the program was to “introduce” them to the museum and secure a professional environment to help them develop practical skills for presenting and communicating their art.
In 2007, the Meeting Point Program evolved into a platform for contemporary art and young artists and became part of the exhibition program of the Vaska Emanouilova Gallery - the newly- opened branch of the Sofia City Art Gallery in Zaimov Park. Along with that, a program for contemporary sculpture was developed, which presented current and experimental approaches to the art of sculpture alongside the exhibition of works by Vaska Emanouilova contained in the collection of the gallery. Through the period of ten years until 2017, the two programs for contemporary art presented more than 60 artists, and over 120 artists participated in the various projects and initiatives implemented by the gallery. We can therefore talk about a generation/generations of artists who, through their work, alter the cultural situation in the country and contribute to the development of art history in Bulgaria.
Over the years, the programs have established different forms of cooperation with other organizations, institutions and art spaces. The most sustainable partnership between 2013 and 2015 was with Société Générale Expressbank, when for the first time in Bulgaria a bank bought works of art for the collection of a museum institution, the Sofia City Art Gallery. The contemporary art collection of the gallery was enhanced by more than 23 art works.
The curator’s project Shifting Layers. Young Art at the Museum originates from the understanding that this is an incomplete, fragmented generation of artists in the newest history of art and in the memory of the museum institution itself. It is a generation that emerged in the times of the “friendship diaries” and keeps going in the era of Facebook and social networks. Unlike the monolithic generation of the 1980s, united by its aesthetic culture and practices in the organized institutional artistic life, and unlike the generation of the 1990s that made the transition, in form and of values, to contemporary art and the West, the “young art” in the exhibition shows the versatile interests and working methods of artists residing in different parts of the world, travelling, and ever changing their horizons.
The exhibition concerns the themes of personal revolutions, new images and mythologies, of the artists’ attitudes toward and work with images in the internet era, of the boundaries between reality and imagination, of the documents and the different view of the city as a global space of forms, policies and routes of all kinds of people and narratives. It shows works dealing with the issues of memory and the present-day role and significance of the museum institution itself. The exhibition features works by 35 artists. It will be accompanied by a catalogue presenting these and another 33 artists and an overview of the development of the programs through the years. A large number of the displayed works of art constitute part of the contemporary art and photography collection of the Sofia City Art Gallery.
The project is realized with the support of the PROTOTYPE Platform of Société Générale Expressbank supporting projects on innovations, design thinking, culture and art, and of the Culture Program of Sofia Municipality.
Curator: Vladiya Mihaylova
THE ICON – A SYMBOL AND AN IMAGE IN MODERN BULGARIAN ART
05 December 2017 - 04 February 2018
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
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.
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