Sliven, with 100,000 inhabitants, is half the size of neighbouring Stara Zagora; also has a dramatic location with mountains rising sheer from behind; but has a more run-down appearance. I associate the town with two things – the painter Dobre Dobrev (198-1973) and excellent white wine (Vini Sliven which has become very difficult to find now in Sofia; Windy Hills I have not yet tasted)!
And the town has done Dobrev proud – with some 50 of his paintings on permanent display in a superb National Revival house. Here I found the painting which had so attracted me in the special exhibition mounted 2 years ago by the Sofia City Gallery - with the fingers of the man at the cafe so clearly drawn!
I was taken to the Gallery by Evelin who had been kind enough to show me round the Sirak Stitnik Gallery which is the town’s main gallery – with a collection just as good as that I saw the previous day in the neighbouring town.
Not only the country’s greats such as Tanev, Abadjiev and Boris Denev but a special exhibition of the graphics of a new painter for me - Kozuharev, Nikola (1892-1971).
He's famous apparently for his mythological and historical paintings but was also a war artist - covering the Balkan War and First World Wars - and some of these sketches were on display.
This painting is of the capture of Bulgaria's greatest freedom-fighter - Vassil Levski.
Unfortunately, there was no heating in the place - like the Russe and Targovishte galleries