18 June 2019 - 14 July 2019
It has been 26 years since Rayko Alexiev’s work was last exhibited, so it is time to revisit his art. Is he just the name of an art gallery in Sofia, or an emblematic figure having played a prominent role in the tragic events that took place in the autumn of 1944?
He was born in 1893 in Pazardzhik to parents who were teachers from the city of Panagyuriste. The family moved from place to place until they settled down in the city of Vratsa where the artist drew his first cartoons and graduated from high school. He earned a degree in literature at the University of Sofia and attended classes at the Paining School. He was barely 18 when he started contributing to the Baraban magazine, and a year later he became an editor and main cartoonist of humor magazine Lyudokos.
In 1914, he contributed to the Smyah [laughter] magazine alongside the father of cartoon art in Bulgaria, Alexander Bozhinov, developed The Week in Cartoons section of the immensely popular illustrated magazine Az znam vsichko [I know everything], and had his first solo exhibition in the city of Vratsa. In the next year, he traveled around Macedonia turning his impressions into drawings which provided material for an exhibition at the Permanent Gallery of Art, Sofia. Regardless of the negative reviews by Boris Vazov and Constantine Starkelov in the Mir newspaper, the artist managed to sell almost all of the paintings and sketches included in the exhibition. Among those who purchased his works were prominent Bulgarian industrial entrepreneurs, high-profile families based in the capital city, Queen Evdokia, and the People’s Museum.
By the time of World War I, when he contributed sharply critical cartoons to leading magazines such as Balgaran and Baraban, Rayko Alexiev had already become more prominent a cartoonist than the doyen Alexander Bozhinov. He published two collections of his works entitled Soul-saving Little Book and Beetle respectively.
After the war, he had his third solo exhibition, and participated in the establishment of House of the Arts. In the years of dramatic events such as the Coup of 9 June, the September Uprising, the St Nedelya Church Assault, and the violent response to them, the artist remained aloof from the battlefield of cartoon art.
His stay in Germany and travels around Italy happened during a period of his life hardly anything is known about. In 1925, the artist directed the comedy Scheming Princess Turandot in which he played the lead, initiated the documentary Bulgaria in Pictures, and also illustrated and compiled (together with Dimitar Podvarzachov and Marin Vlaykov) textbooks for beginning readers. Newspaper Zora is where his characters Gunyo Gaskov and Father Taraponti made their debut, which is also where his Humorous History of the Bulgarian People was published for the first time.
His marriage to young actress Vesela Grancharova was probably the main reason behind his adventurous endeavor to start a humor newspaper of his own whose first issue came out at the end of 1932, to the delight of the residents of the capital city, to be published through the end of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. His vigorous involvement in the preparation of the Sturets weekly did not preclude Rayko Alexiev from performing other activities to the benefit of society, namely his functions as the chair of the Union of Associations of Artists. During his four terms of office he opened the art gallery at 125 Rakovski St, which is now named after him, organized fund-raisers in support of members of the Union, acted as an advocate for artists who identified as communists persecuted by the authorities.
After 9 September 1944, he was the only one of all detained cartoonists, namely Alexander Bozhinov, Alexander Dobrinov, and Constantine Kamenov, who was severely beaten for longer than a month (which resulted in no written testimony) until he was damaged beyond recognition. He passed away at the hospital of the Red Cross.
People of Radoy Ralin’s generation who were eagerly awaiting every new issue of the artist’s weekly Sturets are no longer around. We the people of today shall ask ourselves whether we know our own history as narrated not only by the chronology of events, but also by the emotions of previous generations having lived in the turbulent times of the first half of the twentieth century. Are his works able to move today’s viewers or make them laugh? Is the artist just one of our most prominent cartoonists, or is he a painter whose works are a valuable contribution to the history of Bulgarian art?
The exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery provides us with an opportunity to try and find answers to these questions.
Curator: Krasimir Iliev
VIVIAN MAIER „In her own hands”
24 April 2019 - 16 June 2019
Vivian Maier was an American street photographer оf Austro-Hungarian origin on the side of her father, Charles von Maier, and French on the side of her mother, Maria Jaussaud, Vivian Maier (1926-2009) worked as a children’s nanny in New York and then Chicago from the early 1950s to the 1990s.
Her precarious social position led her to lead a silent and solitary life, without sound or fury. Hers is a life that cannot be told; a transparent life, as if her body without a shadow had the mere appearance of life; life with a certain resignation, the "resignation that alleviates all ills without cure"; surviving without really existing.
By happy coincidence, another side of this "Woman without a Shadow"(2) and her contradictions, which no one had ever glimpsed, was discovered in Chicago, in 2007. This other facet of her, as if freed of its shackles, produced a considerable body of work.
This imposing, dense, luminous and brilliant oeuvre is made up of more than 120,000 photographic images, Super 8 and 16mm films, various recordings, a rattlebag of photographs, and reems of undeveloped film, like captivating finds. Haunted by this passion, which became certainty, she now ranks among the most emblematic of street photographers, with a place in the history of photography alongside Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt and Garry Winogrand.
We see the same themes returning again and again throughout her work, like weighting that balances out the overall architecture of her work; a vocabulary, a syntax and a language laid down from the outset and her earliest images. This was her language and she used it to tell the story of her time.
She photographed street scenes, her preferred stage, and the working-class districts where she came into contact with life; portrait after portrait of strangers and people with whom she identified and gave a split second of eternity as her gaze briefly met theirs; a gesture, an expression, a situation; the grace of small things within reach. She also photographed the world of children, a universe that had been her own for so long. A world of freedom where time no longer exists; forms, rhythms, materials, like objects found on her long walks; in black and white, and then in colour from the 1960s onwards, adding a variation the musicality of colours - and playing on its attributes. She tried her hand at making films on Super 8 and 16mm cameras, no longer wishing to hurry time forward but to ground it to a halt, frozen in the instant of what she saw; because rather than scenes, Vivian Maier filmed the movement of her eye in space, scouting the photographic image. Vivian Maier "seized upon the life that was everywhere she looked. She grasped it in its smallest details; she observed it and followed it; she awaited it at the crossroads where it lingered; she overtook it as it ran, and wherever she may have been, she found it in all places equally great, equally powerful and overwhelming.”
But central to these themes is an important issue that would seem to carry the work’s entire structure: her search for identity through self-portraits. Many such portraits exist in Vivian Maier's work, in multiple variations and types, to become a language within language - the mise en abyme of the double. The recurrent mode of her self-portraits, now a form of signature, is the cast shadow, which typically cleaves to the body, a negative body double, "carved in reality" and able to make the absent present. For although it testifies to the existence of a referent, it simultaneously obliterates its presence. Through duality, Vivian Maier plays with this self on the verge of disappearance and the advent of its double, acknowledging the self-portrait as "a presence in the third person (that) accurately reveals the simultaneity of this presence and absence".
Vivian Maier's work, discovered in extremis, destined as it probably was to be "disfigured" or even to disappear, unfolds before our eyes, and this "simple nanny", nameless and faceless, reaches the point at which she posthumously becomes Vivian Maier. Vivian Maier, photographer. Her work, lifelike and vibrant, resonates in some way with everyone who has ever looked at one of her images. Time stops instantly. Vivian Maier stands before us and forever etches herself in eternity. Anne Morin, diChorma Photography
Masters of Photography – Vivian Maier “in her own hands” is organized by MUSIZ Foundation in partnership with Sofia Municipality, US Embassy in Sofia, VIVACOM and Samsung. The exhibition is in collaboration with diChroma photography, Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY.
The Other Eye Roject
16 April 2019 - 16 June 2019
Portrait of a Friend is the fifth exhibition within the Other Eye Project launched by the Sofia City Art Gallery in 2010. Under the project, non-art historian outsiders are invited by the gallery as guest curators to conceive directions and ideas for an exhibition based on artworks belonging to the gallery’s permanent collection. The upcoming exhibition is curated by Iglika Trifonova, filmmaker and screenwriter, whose work includes 10 documentaries, most notably Homicide Stories. A Letter to America (2000) marked her debut as a feature film director (a co-production with the Netherlands, Germany, and Hungary). Her films were presented at dozens of festivals having earned numerous national and international awards. Iglika Trifonova draws our attention to closeness focusing on personalities, or individual images. The exhibition is the outcome of interesting conversations, a careful selection, and a new take on a much commented upon theme, namely the portrait. The exhibition features more than 100 works that belong to various genres such as painting, sculpture, and photography, and span the close of the nineteenth century through the first decade of the twenty-first century. The exhibition presents artworks by seminal Bulgarian artists such as Zlatyo Boyadzhiev, Ivan Markvichka, Vladimir Dimitrov the Master, Genko Genkov, Ivan Nenov, Lika Yanko, Ivan Lazarov, Svetlin Rusev, Pavel Koychev, Atanas Patsev, Vaska Emanuilova. Iglika Trifonova’s curatorial approach is interesting in that the exhibition features works that leave the museum’s storage rooms for the first time, allow viewers to see the artists who created them in a completely different light, and reveal numerous points of intersection of images, styles, and periods. As Iglika Trifonova notes in the exhibition catalogue, ‘I picked out the portraits based on their effect, and the power of their presence. I have spoken to cinematographers I have worked with, as well as to actors and viewers about this presence so many times. There is something about it that does not lend itself to categorization, something so enigmatic and so attractive. The words most beautifully suited to this presence would be Shakespeare’s ‘such stuff as dreams are made on’... There are human faces that light is fond of, that leave an impression you cannot get away from for a long time... Some of the portraits are of notable Bulgarians all of us are familiar with, others are of anonymous people who lived in the past or belong to this day and age. Working on a portrait involves inspiration and skill, as well as responsibility to the person being portrayed.’
Curator: Iglika Trifonova
#comment #fiction #document
12 March 2019 - 14 April 2019
Olivier Bardin, Mariana Vassileva, Daniela Kostova, Cvetan Krastev,
28 February 2019 - 07 April 2019
The exhibition is an outcome of years-long research of the work of Nikolay Raynov, one of the most prominent figures on the Bulgarian art scene during the first half of the twentieth century. He earned fame mostly through his literary and journalistic work. He also went down in history as the author of the first history of art in Bulgarian, and the author of one of the first monographs on Bulgarian art. He graduated from the School of Art and Industry, Sofia, in 1919. He defined himself throughout his whole life as an artist and decorator: he created a considerable body of work belonging to the genres of illustration and book design, also completing numerous decoration projects. Yet his signature works, recognized as his most unique and distinguishable, are his stylized paintings created during the 1920’s and 1930’s. These paintings set him apart as an extraordinary phenomenon of the Bulgarian art scene during this period making references to the philosophical system that provides the foundation for all of his work. Each of Nikolay Raynov’s works, from the most insignificant drawing through to his theoretical works, constitutes a fragment of this elaborate structure. Some of his decorative compositions are complemented by an explanation of the theme, yet all of them reveal Nikolay Raynov’s astonishing erudition and multifaceted interests spanning the fields of philosophy, religious history, ethnography, physics, botany, astrology, chemistry, etc.
The exhibition features more than 120 works by Nikolay Raynov divided into two groups. The exhibition is an attempt to look at the artist’s legacy from key vantage points through texts, decorative nature paintings, graphic compositions and illustrations. The exhibition presents early works of the artist from his time as an undergraduate student at the State School of Drawing (1909-1911); more mature works created during the 1920’s; engravings created during his visit to Paris (1925-1927), and decorative landscapes from the 1930’s, including landscapes with lacquer paints on foil, a technique unique to Raynov as far as the Bulgarian context is concerned. The exhibition also features nature drawings whose media include India ink, tempera, colored pencils, and watercolor. They reveal an unresearched aspect of Nikolay Raynov’s work related to the process of stylization.
Works included in the exhibition were provided by the National Gallery of Art, Plovdiv City Art Gallery, Dimitar Dobrovich Sliven City Art Gallery, Vladimir Dimitrov the Master Kyustendil City Art Gallery, Museum at the National Academy of Arts, Svetlin Rusev Donation-Collection, city of Pleven, National Museum of Literature, Archives State Agency, Nuance Gallery, Sofia, Philippopolis Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgarian Art Collection Foundation, art collectors Boyan Radev, Vladimir Iliev, Ivo Dimitrov, Ventsislav Kadiev, Dimitar Indzhov, Fitsov Collection, and other individuals.
The exhibition includes screenings of the films Nikolay Raynov, 1984, writer: Alexander Beshkov, director: Mihail Soykov, and Nikolay Raynov, Tobacco Man, 1989, director: Hristo Valev, writer: Darin Kambov, both provided by the Bulgarian National Television.
Curators: Stanislava Nikolova, Galina Dekova
Exhibition design: Svetla Georgieva
Exhibition catalogue in Bulgarian and English is available.
Exhibition-related events at the Sofia City Art Gallery:
14 March: Lecture by Maria Miteva, Ph. D., senior assistant professor, Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Nikolay Raynov. On Applied Art.
21 March: Lecture by Prof. Svetlana Stoycheva, Ph. D., Krastyo Sarafov National Academy for Theater and Film Arts. Nikolay Raynov, Portrait of the Artist.
28.03. Lecture by Prof. Ivanka Raynova, Ph. D., Institute for the Study of Society and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Spiritual Aspect of Nikolay Raynov’s Study of Art and his Painting.
3 April, 2019: Jubilee Research Conference commemorating the 130th anniversary of Nikolay Raynov’s Birth organized by the Institute for Literature, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Events hosted by other institutions:
9 - 10 May, 2019: Philosophy, Art, Literature International Conference commemorating the 130th anniversary of Nikolay Raynov’s Birth and the 100th anniversary of Bogomil Raynov’s Birth organized by the Bulgarian Philosophical Society, Institute for the Study of Society and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, etc. hosted by the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski
01 February 2019 - 03 March 2019
Borjana Ventzislavova captures the immersion in the game with the somewhat forgotten games from the recent past. The exhibition Real Games is motivated by the artist’s desire to bring to mind the experience and the memories of her generation of the entertainment outdoors with live games, sometimes with simple or self-made toys.
The five-channel video installation shows already grown-up children invited to continue the game of paper blowgun darts or the game of elastics. The protagonists are people of various walks of life invited to play a role by taking part in an enjoyable reenactment, remembering their childhood and the very game with its rules at the same time. In the situations provoked by Borjana Ventzislavova, the participants play while being themselves, in their role of working adults.
The games played in the video installation are linked to the memories of the generations that grew up in the 80s. Team games, in addition to requiring physical presence and contact, unlike the static screen experience, provoke jubilation and certain theatricality, highlighted in Borjana Ventzislavova’s videos by the appearance of the adult players.
The players in the situations staged in the video installation are children and adults, serious and incredulous at the same time, players in their own manner and their own life and playing in someone’s political ambition, who can always give their credit of trust to the game so that it will come off or the other way round, it will lose its magic and end. It is namely those various aspects and meta-levels of the “Games of Fate” that the artist covers in the exhibition Real Games through various types of media such as video, photography, text and objects.
Borjana Ventzislavova often considers the social transformations that concern individual groups of today’s society. Her characters are real people, whom the artist puts in a situation or an environment which reveals the discrepancies between personal expectations and reality, arising namely from the paradoxes of the modern world.
Curator: Vera Mlechevska
Vladimir Mishaykov, Georgi Petrov, Doychin Kotlarov, Linda Ruseva, Martina Staneva - Antonova, Sava Bobchev, Garo Ashikyan, Yana Georgieva
cinematographer: Petko Lungov
sound: Veselin Zografov, Stefan Pashaliyski
assistant producer: Elena Radeva
The exhibition is realised with the kind support of the Austrian Embassy in Sofia and the Arts and Culture division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria.
About Borjana Ventzislavova:
Borjana Ventzislavova is an interdisciplinary artist who works in the field of photography, film/video, installations, performance and media art. Her works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions and included in numerous media and film festivals. She has received a number of awards, recognitions and scholarships. In 2017, she was presented with Vienna’s Fine Arts Award, in 2013 – the Austrian state scholarship for fine arts, 2009 – start scholarship, 2006 – the award of the film festival in Cologne, awards for art from Sussman Stiftung, Otto Putscher fund, etc. She was a resident artist at Banff/Canada (Banff Centre), Athens (Snehta), London (ACF), Rome (BKA), Newcastle (ISIS Arts), Berkeley (CEC Artslink), Los Angeles (MAK Schindler), Chicago (BKA), and in 2019 she will be in New York. Her works have been included in a number of private and public collections.
Borjana lives and works in Vienna and Sofia. She gained her MA in Visual Media Art at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. In 2017 she was granted honorable Austrian citizenship for her achievements in the visual arts.
18 January 2019 - 28 February 2019
The backstory of Ivan Paskalev’s exhibition at 0GMS-cabinet started in Munich. Under the working title Prototype, he embarked on a new piece which marked a change in his work so far. The artist’s work from 2003 to date can be described as a continuous experiment with the generation and occurrence of the image, and also with the methods of its perception when the visual reality of our environment is juxtaposed to that projected from technological devices. He puts the visible and the invisible, the real and virtual on one level. Unlike many others, he does not make use of the latest technologies as an end in themselves, but is always tempted to walk the borderline between science and magic. In his earlier works, he studied for a long time the capacity of one type of monitors – he literally disassembled them and sabotaged their core function, their capacity to reproduce pictures. After that, with the parts of the disassembled monitors he created moving installations, which featured the functions of video and sculpture at the same time. With one of these works, he won the award for videoart at the second VIDEODOX biennial in Bavaria in 2017.
18 December 2018 - 25 January 2019
NEW DIRECTIONS IN OUR PAINTING
13 November 2018 - 10 February 2019
The Our Painting in New Directions exhibition presents one trend in the development of Bulgarian art during the first half of the 20th century. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, artists turned their attention to nature, reality and modern life. Certain genres (still life, landscape painting, portrait) gained considerable popularity, while style gravitated towards realist means of artistic expression. These processes took place on our art scene in unison with European trends that were introduced in Bulgaria mainly by Bulgarian artists who completed their studies abroad. Their works reveal various influences, one of which is the influence of the New Objectivity movement which arose in Weimar Germany. Yet New Objectivity was hardly a prominent well-established trend in Bulgarian art during the 1930’s and 1940’s. The German movement’s most distinguished representative in Bulgaria was Cyril Tsonev. New Objectivity was most frequently used as a stylistic solution as reveled in individual motifs and artworks by various artists who demonstrated their social involvement and interest in a new lifestyle associated with the modern city and the conditions and entertainment it offered. For this reason, it is mostly reflections of New Objectivity that artworks reveal, and since it made its way to an area on the periphery of the European art scene, these reflections are characterized by peculiar uniqueness.
The exhibition was developed along four thematic lines, namely The New Life of Objects, The Modern City, The Landscape, Faces of the City. The exhibition features works by better known artists such as Cyril Tsonev, Boris Eliseev, Vera Nedkova, Vasil Barakov, as well as lesser-known ones like Asen Vasilev, Todorka Burova, Karl Yordanov, Asen Dochev. The exhibition presents more than a hundred artworks, two of which have not been shown or published before. It also features little known artworks.
Artworks included in the exhibition belong to the permanent collections of the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery, other Bulgarian galleries, as well as to private collectors. Research consultant for the exhibition is Prof. Krasimira Koeva. An exhibition catalogue is available alongside a program featuring thematic lectures and meetings with curators providing opportunities for more in-depth exploration of individual themes of the exhibition.
Curators: Neda Zhivkova, Lyuben Domozetski
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