Vaska Popova - Balareva /1902 1979/ 110th Anniversary of Her Birth
10 March 2012 - 06 April 2012
The exhibition commemorating the anniversary of the artist’s birth comprises part of the initiative of the Sofia City Art Gallery to show its visitors the work of Bulgarian artists, who went down in the history of Bulgarian art, yet remaining far from the “spotlight”.
Vaska Popova-Balareva was among the artists who avoided flaunting their presence in the artistic circles of the 1930’s through the 1970’s. Having lived her life like a true aristocrat, she is giving today’s viewers the opportunity to catch a glimpse of her world. The exhibition features plenty of portraits of children, men and women, for which the artist employed a variety of painting media. There is an interesting group of paintings standing out, representing the images of tenor Stefan Makedonski, composer Lyubomir Pipkov, artists Cyril Petrov and Raphael Mihaylov, author Elisaveta Bagryana, all of whom were friends with the artist. The exhibition also features still lifes, landscapes, graphic works, as well as various projects of hers belonging to the field of applied arts (leather crafting).
The works featured in the exhibition belong to the collections of the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery, the “Boris Denev” Veliko Tarnovo City Art Gallery, the “Petko Zadgorski” Burgas City Art Gallery, the “Elena Karamihaylova” Shumen City Art Gallery, the Ruse City Art Gallery, the “Svetlin Rusev” Studio-Collection – Sofia, the “Earth and People” National Museum – Sofia, the State Music and Ballet Center – Sofia, as well as of many private collectors.
Vaska Popova-Balareva was born in the city of Ruse on April 7, 1902. She was raised in the family of a general and a mother who was an artist and a musician. Her love of art took her to the National Academy of Arts, Sofia, where she took up studies in Prof. Tseno Todorov’s painting class. Under the mentorship of Prof. Nikola Marinov, she mastered the language of colours, graduating in 1927. Two years later, following an admission test, she was admitted to the Academy of Arts in Rome for further specialization. There she got acquainted in detail with leather crafting techniques. After her return to Bulgaria, she established herself as a pioneer in this field. In 1933 she married General Hristo Balarev, with whom she had a son. The artist’s home was frequented by intellectuals Soya Paprikova, Bistra Vinarova, Alexander Poplilov, Cyril Petrov, Raphael Mihaylov, Andrey Nikolov, Boris Ivanov, Alexander Zhendov, Mara Georgieva, Vaska Emanuilova, Veselin Staykov, Lyuba Palikareva. Vaska Popova-Balareva died on August 3, 1979 in Sofia.
MIHALIS GARUDIS Painting
04 November 2011 - 27 November 2011
Within the tradition of Bulgarian art, the name of Mihalis Garudis has been associated with hyperrealism in painting.
This exhibition features about 40 artworks. It has the touch of a retrospective exhibition, as it has on display works belonging to various periods, allowing the viewer to follow the artist’s development as regards his approach to meaning, form and visual quality.
Works featured in the exhibition can be divided into several groups according to theme.
The first group comprises early still lifes – compositions, where the representation of objects is placed within a specific meaningful context. At the beginning of his career as an artist, the artist makes sense of the objects represented on his canvases through philosophical contemplation.
The next group comprises works interpreting the themes of antiquity, heritage, the destructive force of time, and the creative force of the act of striving for freedom. They exude epic monumentality.
The third group of paintings has a recurrent sea motif. For more than three decades, the sea has been an endless source of interpretation for Mihalis Garudis. It is his major theme, also dominating the exhibition in question. In this group of paintings the artist seeks to spot the traces of time, imprinted on what is washed away by the sea, in mankind’s collective memory, in the comparison between the fleeting and the eternal.
The fourth group of works is closely related to the Mediterranean spirit. Over the last years, the artist has created a large number of paintings, featuring the olive tree as a central motif. Undoubtedly, the olive is associated with Greece, yet Garudis interprets it, adopting a cosmopolitan perspective, too. As depicted in his canvases, the olive fosters exotic contemplation, bringing about peace and calm.
All the paintings featured in the exhibition carry the mark of the artist’s signature style. They are characterized by command of form, exquisite line, meaningful composition. Even deformation is subjected to further aestheticizing. For Mihalis Garudis the meaning of art is manifested in the objective, tangible essence of things, the reality, seen through the symbolical layers of virtuosically represented particularity. Among the artist’s signature approaches is the comparison between what exists in reality and what is represented. The nails, ropes, trees, rusty metal fragments, assembled into a collage, complement the meticulously represented objects, prompting the viewer to reach out and touch them. Typically, his paintings are organized around the conflict between real and represented, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, which provokes an optical game.
Mihalis Garudis does not act as a story teller in his tangible-metaphorical paintings. He pays meticulous attention to form, comparing what is represented to the real object, the past to the present, timelessness to transience, letting philosophical contemplation prevail over extreme expression.
The works featured in the exhibition are the ownership of the Sofia City Art Gallery, theNational Art Gallery, the Razgrad Art Gallery, the Strazhitsa Art Gallery, and private collectors.
Mihalis Garudis was born in1940 in the town of Didymóteicho, Greece. He studied painting in Prof. Iliya Petrov’s class at the Academy of Arts, Sofia, graduating in 1965. He has lived and worked in Thessaloniki, Greece since 1986. He works in the fields of monumental arts, painting, collage. His works are the ownership of a number of museums and private collectors in Bulgaria and abroad.
KONTAKT COLLECTION Works from the Kontakt Art collection Curators Maria Vassileva, Walter Seidl
22 October 2011 - 27 November 2011
The exhibition presents a significant part of Vienna’s “Kontakt” collection, which aims to collect some of the most important works, created in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, as well as to draw parallels between the various conceptual artistic practices, having developed since the 1960’s.
“Kontakt” was founded at the end of 2004 as an association, represented by: BCR, Česká spořitelna, Erste Bank Croatia, Erste Bank Hungary, ERSTE Foundation, Erste Group, Slovenská sporiteľňa.
Contemporary artworks from countries with similar historical fate are presented in Bulgaria for the first time. The exhibition follows the development of video, performance, conceptual photography, object, installation, and action in Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Bulgaria. The exhibition also features works by leading Austrian artists, as it was through Vienna that contact with the West was being made for many years.
The collection poses a variety of questions concerning both more distant and more recenthistory. It touches upon sensitive issues such as the darkest aspects of the communist past or the damages done by the war in former Yugoslavia. Yet, the red thread tying the works is the search and establishment of identity of one’s own – starting with making sense of modernist legacy, passing through inner opposition to the political status quo, to go on to introduce gender issues. The question “What is art?” (the title of a work by Raša Todosijević) acquires profound dimensions when viewed in light of the artists’ capacity to sense, analyze, comment upon and trigger situations, events and changes.
Artists: Paweł Althamer, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Geta Brătescu, Carola Dertnig, VALIE EXPORT, Stano Filko, Gorgona, Ion Grigorescu, Marina Grinić, IRWIN, Sanja Iveković, Šejla Kamerić, Julije Knifer, Július Koller, Jiri Kovanda, Edward Krasiński, Katalin Ladik, Natalia LL, Kazimir Malevich, Vlado Martek, Dalibor Martinis, Ivan Moudov, OHO, Roman Ondák, Tanja Ostojić, Neša Paripović, Boryana Rossa, Kateřina Šeda, Aina Šmid, Mladen Stilinović, Raša Todosijević, Peter Weibel, Artur Żmijewski
An exhibition catalogue is available in Bulgarian and English.
Two lectures will take place in the frames of the exhibition: VALIE EXPORT, artist, Vienna and Bojana Pejic, curator, Belgrade/Berlin.
TOUCHING THE SHADOW CuratorKrasimir Iliev
15 September 2011 - 09 October 2011
The exhibition is an attempt to touch upon the issue of darkness and shadow, as seen in works, created within a nearly hundred-year period, by thirty Bulgarian artists belonging to various generations, namely Ivan Murkvichka, Nikola Petrov, Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master, Ivan Milev, Zhorzh Papazov, Nikola Tanev, Bencho Obreshkov, Iliya Beshkov, Vasil Ivanov, Genko Genkov, Nikola Daskalov, Georgi Baev, Atanas Patsev, Nikola Terziev, Peter Dochev, Ivan Georgiev – the Rembrandt, Tomas Kochev, Stoyan Tsanev, Angel Stanev, Dimitur Lalev, Dimitur Koulev, Milko Bozhkov, Stanislav Pamoukchiev, Yulia Stankova, Krasimir Iliev, Ziyatin Nouriev, Dimitur Iliev, Nadezhda Karapencheva, Antonia Angelova and Mina Angelova.
For them darkness and shadow have various meanings: the are masters of passions; a nurturing environment that engenders form; ghosts, prophesying doom, yet also the enchanting poetry of darkness, its designated time for ecstatic prayer, opening ajar the gate between life and death. The shadow may be a delicate weapon of female coquettishness. It may dance together with the light and be its counterpoint. The shadow is concentrated spirituality, and in order for form to be eternal, it has to contain a shadow. The shadow of a human is not only his/her essence, but also his/her entirety. Darkness is the fabric of the devil, yet also the haven of beauty. Darkness is the sadness of being aware of human imperfection. Darkness is a womb, yet also a snare for humans. It weaves its thread, entangling light in its attempt to devour it, but not its creator.
Works selected for the exhibition also present light and darkness in a continuum whose extremities are the Christian view of the fight between the two and the Chinese idea of their indivisibility and mutual complementation. It is obvious that in the course of time, especially after the 1970’s, black does not simply take over larger and larger territories in Bulgarian art, but frequently loses its negative meaning, even turning into the essential image-representing device. Consciously or not, this process draws it closer to this part of Far Eastern art, which is rooted in the Zen view of representation, namely the sudden reaching of this darkness-extracted shattering moment, that was prompted by enlightenment.
MESSAGE FROM THE AGES CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES ON THE BALKANS
12 July 2011 - 28 August 2011
The exhibition features works by Otto Horeishi, Josef Oberbauer, Ivan Murkvichka, Tsanko Lavrenov, Sirak Skitnik, Ivan Milev, Detchko Ouzounov, Ivan Penkov, Ivan Lazarov, Ari Kaluchev, Boris Denev, Vladimir Loukarov, Nikola Kozhouharov, Atanas Mihov, Pencho Georgiev, Mario Zhekov, Boris Mihaylov, Ivan Hristov, Simeon Velkov, Ivan Getsov, Naoum Hadzhimladenov, Peter Morozov, Yordan Kyuvliev, Marin Georgiev – Oustagenov, Georgi Hadzhidimitrov, Vladimir Rilski, Slavi Genev, Nayden Petkov, Zdravko Alexandrov, Vasil Marinov,`Radi Nedelchev, Dimitur Andreev, Veselin Paroushev, Maxim Tsankov, Georgi Nikolov, Vladimir Peshev, Boycho Grigorov, Lika Yanko, Andrey Daniel, Cyril Gerasimov, Dimitur Stefanov, created over various periods between the late 19th and the late 20th centuries to take us back in time and remind us about the significant role these holy places that monasteries and churches are, have played for our spirituality, morals, and the virtues of the Christian Orthodox faith throughout more than a thousand years of history.
The exhibition aims to reveal how and the extent to which Orthodox Christianity and secular art are related, while raising numerous questions of various nature, which require comprehensive, in-depth answers. Why would only individual artists or groups of artists be inspired by Orthodox Christianity, by churches and monasteries, by biblical stories? How, when and why did we come to ignore our Christian heritage and the individuals related to it, as well as its unique art, literary and philosophical works?
The exhibition features a selection of more than 120 works belonging to the genres of oil painting, water color painting and sculpture, created by different generations of artists. Their simultaneous presentation helps trace yet another trend in Bulgarian art. For some artists, interest in churches and monasteries was related to a comprehensive study of the past, as they believed that it to be the source of our native heritage, providing the basis for modern art. Others demonstrated interest in church painting either sporadically, or permanently, an interest also reflected in their secular works. Still others, came in touch with the spirit of Orthodox Christianity by mere accident. Yet, all their paths crossed in the temple, in the act of creating artworks telling stories about churches and monasteries where Bulgarian cultural heritage and national spirit were created and preserved. These are works that we classify as secular, which give off an authentic light of their own within the context of the exhibition. They give us yet another chance to get near the Christian truth, as they appeal to people’s sense and sensibility.
The exhibition comprises part of the ancillary events for the 22nd International Congress of Byzantine Studies. An exhibition catalogue is available.
Exhibition curator: Adelina Fileva