Wednesday, February 9, 2011
com-panion-ship - sharing bread
I can’t leave Sofia without my thanks to my great hosts and friends. But it’s invidious to mention them now since I wouldn’t know who to put first - the Bulgarian alphabetical listings use the first „given” name - not the family name. Just as they shake their head to indicate agreement. Very contrary! Suffice to say that, apart from the company, paintings and laughs, I had (and gave) great food – I haven’t mentioned Jovo’s great artist spread on Sunday afternoon in his studio – salads and pickled vegetables with pastrami and home-made Raki (from muscat grape) then slow-cooked beef with home-made brown bread and the special Brestovitza red wine prepared privately and sold only to friends by one of the vinoculture experts there. Jovo and Yassen are my first artist friends (apart from Bogdan in Ploiesti) and I have learned so much about Bulgarian painting from them. I was reminded, during the meal, of the spirit in which I was given a meal in a converted church in Jersey City by a Monsignor I had met at a Ditchley Park weekend devoted to urban renewal in the mid 1980s. He was the leader of a community cooperative which now owned much of the real estate of this poor neighbourhood - and the meal he and his Board members offered me (before I caught the plane back to the UK after my 6 week's Fellowship in the USA) celebrated the features of "companionship"- literally "breaking bread with (pane -con)".....It seems to share the qualities of "wabi sabi" – the japanese art of impermanence - which I am reading about at the moment in a delightful book by Andrew Juniper. It explains about the tea-drinking ceremony - whcih I have always appreciated since my days in Uzbekistan
Jovo’s studio is in a special apartment on the outskirts (a huge town in its own rights which had sprouted in the last decade) within sight of his flat – and he has a very distinctive style with elongated nudes with heads bowed which have a touch of Matisse. As we were about to leave, a friend and well-known cartoonist (Ilian Savkov) dropped in – and gave me some more names for my list. He draws daily cartoons for the Daily Standard.
I knew I would not have an easy departure on Tuesday morning - since the car wouldn't start on Sunday - despite a bit of exercise I had given it on Satruday. Once again Ivo came to the rescue - helping to push start it and taking me to a friend who had a cable sorted out in a jiff and for only 10 euros. Thanks Ivo!