NEDKO SOLAKOV Curators Maria Vassileva and Iara Boubnova
07 May 2009 - 05 June 2009
This is Nedko Solakov’s first large exhibition in Bulgaria since 1988, as well as the first retrospective presentation of his work in his home country. One of the most interesting „story tellers” of contemporary art will „recount” his artistic biography specially for the Bulgarian public.
The SCAG exhibition is an attempt to give an idea of the artist’s dynamic and versatile work between 1981 and the present day. The oil paintings featured in the exhibition belong to various Bulgarian museums (the National Art Gallery, the art galleries of the cities of Plovdiv, Botevgrad, Sliven, Gabrovo, Dimitrovgrad, the House of Humour and Satire in the city of Gabrovo), as well as to private collections. They reveal the artistic style and approaches that brought Nedko Solakov critical acclaim and public recognition on the Bulgarian art scene in the early 1980’s through the mid-1980’s. The exhibition also features later works by the artist, where he starts incorporating various non-traditional elements in his work thus declaring his interest in a socially-oriented, provocative and interactive art. The public will be able to see objects created at an early stage of the artist’s career, pertaining to the development of conceptual art in Bulgaria in the late 1980’s.
The 1990’s see a significant, yet logical, change in Nedko Solakov’s art, which was triggered by frequent travels round the world, participation in numerous group exhibitions and biennials, delivery of lectures, participation in conferences and workshops. Gradually he became one of the leading figures in contemporary art. Many of his works belong to major museums and private collections showed to the public. Presentation of the work belonging to this stage of his career turned into a challenge for both the artist and the exhibition’s curators. Led by the desire to create as broad a picture of Nedko Solakov’s art as possible, the artist and the curators choose a specific mode of presentation, where original works are alternated with documentary material. The public will be able to get acquainted with the various ways of installing some of the artist’s most prominent works, to study in detail the artist’s notes accompanying them, to have a look at projects, invitations, etc. And what is most valuable about the exhibition – they will be able to read Nedko Solakov’s comments made exclusively for this very exhibition of his work. Among the works featured in the exhibition are: New Noah's Ark, 1991-2007, The Truth (The Earth is Plane, the World is Flat), 1992-2003, The Collector of Art, 1992-, This is me too..., 1996-2005, Discussion (Property), 2007, A Recent Story with Ghosts, a Pair of High-Heeled Shoes, (a couple of floods) and Some Other Mischievous Acts, 2008, etc. Presented in such a manner, the works turn into a single monumental work of art with a life of its own – a portrait of the artist and his development over the past three decades.
This “picture” of the artist’s art and life is framed by his work „A Life (Black & White)”, 1998-, presumably his most popular one, shown at numerous venues around the world and owned by various prestigious museums and collectors. In the space of a month two workers/painters will constantly repaint the walls of the exhibition space in black and white, day after day, following each other, thus leaving the exhibition space neither entirely white, nor entirely black, which is an excellent metaphor of the world we live in.
Of all Bulgarian museums, the Sofia City Art Gallery is the one paying the greatest tribute to modern Bulgarian art, as revealed by its consistent policy setting the latter as a priority. Nedko Solakov’s exhibition is a logical result of the said policy crowning the efforts of the gallery team to present the best of late 20th and early 21st century Bulgarian art.
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Nedko Solakov (born in 1957 in the town of Cherven Briag, currently living in Sofia) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts – Sofia in 1981 and went on to work mainly in the filed of painting. He has been part of the world art scene ever since the early 1990’s contributing his trademark drawings, installations, videos, objects and interventions in specific spaces.
Nedko Solakov has participated in La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007), the Istanbul Biennial (1992, 1995, 2005), the São Paulo Biennial (1994), Manifesta 1 (Rotterdam, 1996), the Kwanju Biennial, South Korea (1997, 2002), the Lyon Biennial (2000), the Seville Biennial, Spain (2006), the Moscow Biennial (2007), Documenta 12, Kassel (2007), the Sydney Biennial (2008), the New Orleans Biennial (2008), etc. Over the last years he has had solo exhibitions hosted by: the Chiado Museum, Lisbon, the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam, Kunsthaus, Zurich, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, etc. Over the period 2003-2005 three cultural institutions, namely the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden, the Casino Luxembourg - Forum d’art Contemporain, Luxembourg and O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz, Austria hosted a large retrospective exhibition entitled "Nedko Solakov. A 12 1/3 (and even more) Year Survey". In 2008-2009 the „Еmotions” project was presented in Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen and Mathildenhoehe, Darmstadt.
Nedko Solakov’s works are to be found in major museums throughout the world, namely: the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich; the Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; the Tate Modern, London, S.M.A.K. Ghent, as well as in art foundations and private collections shown to the public: Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; the Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens; the Ella Fontanals Cisneros Collection, Miami, USA, etc.
In 2007 the artist received an “Honourable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition”, 52 La Biennale di Venezia, Venice for his work „Discussion (Property)”.
Nedko Solakov is a co-founding member of the Institute of Contemporary Art-Sofia.
The Temptation of CHALGA Curators Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, Vessela Nozharova Chronology and documentation Venzislav Dimov
30 April 2009 - 31 May 2009
Sofia City Art Gallery
Art Affairs and Chronology Foundation
The project was made possible with financial support from the Sofia City Municipality
Media partners: Programme Weekly Culture Guide, 24 Chasa newspaper, VAGABOND MEDIA
A potent cultural phenomenon has had tangible presence in Bulgarian society over the last 20 years. Unbearable for some, yet blissful for others, chalga (the most commonly used term to refer to Bulgarian pop folk music) has become an inseparable part of our everyday life. Over all those years we have involuntarily become “witnesses” and “accessories” to the complicated process of a marginal suppressed genre turning into a profitable industry, firmly establishing itself as a value system and lifestyle.
Gaudy, lustrous, noisy, scandalous, kitschy, chalga (also called „ethno pop” and „pop folk”) is a true reflection of the endless period of transition in Bulgaria and the social, political and economic change triggered by it. It is a remarkably candid celebration of the most typical features of our national mentality. Full of love and tears, the chalga euphoria triggered a post-socialist Balkan sexual revolution, defying all norms and taboos.
It is all the above and also the numerous assets it uses to fully engage all senses that make chalga a rich source of ideas for contemporary artists.
This project’s curators dare remove the heavy barrier separating “chalga” and “culture” inviting modern Bulgarian artists to come up with their responses to this topical issue. Chalga is present in the exhibition in the shape of music, vision, text, history, mood, specific sites and events, namely everything that made it such a significant social factor. Each project participant has found something touching, shocking, confusing or gladdening about chalga, yet, most of all, something tempting enough to trigger an artist’s response in the shape of a work of art.
Artists featured in the exhibition include Georgi Toushev, Daniela Kostova, Boris Missirkov/Georgi Bogdanov, Adelina Popnedeleva, who were the first to treat chalga in their works in the mid-1990’s through the late 1990’s, when the latter was at its peak. In the years to follow other acclaimed artists like Alla Georgieva and Krasimir Dobrev were also provoked the luscious visions and intense emotions. Some of the said artists contributed new works, specially created for this project. They were joined by two Bulgarian artists, namely Konstantin Bozhanov and Ergin Chavoshoglou, who are better known abroad, rather than at home. Their works offer an outsiders’ view of Bulgarian chalga and its equivalents worldwide, analyzing the phenomenon from a more distanced perspective.
Representatives of the new generation of modern Bulgarian artists, namely Boriana Ventsislavova, Svetozara Alexandrova, Stanimir Genov, Vikenti Komitski, Orlin Nedelchev, seem to be as tempted as the rest.
DJ JORO-BORO from the Bulgarian bar in New York City, who is the star in Daniela Kostova’s video, will be a special guest of the exhibition.
A timeline of chalga culture in Bulgaria including information connecting it to major political and social events comprises an important part of the exhibition. It was made by Dr. Ventsislav Stefanov from the Institute for Art Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, who is the author of the first monograph on chalga, “The Ethno-pop Boom”, Sofia, 2001. His years-long research in the field of ethno music, as well as his rich collection of unique artifacts associated with the heroes of pop folk culture, complement the overall impression of the works featured in the exhibition.
Besides providing an eclectic response, making social criticism and defying all standards and taboos, “The Chalga Temptation” is also the moment of awakening in art, when both our cultural identity and surrounding reality become clearly distinguishable.
The exhibition curators would like to kindly thank their loyal associate, Iurii Vulkovski, the SCAG team and everybody, who helped make this project a success: Donka Angelova, Rozmarie Statelova, Viara Mlechevska, Svilen Stefanov, Dimitur Grozdanov, Dosiu Amoudzhiev, Yovo Panchev, Roudolph Barch, Vania Koubadinska, Ivailo Evtimov.