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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Great art in Sofia

A flurry of artistic activity, starting on Thursday morning with a visit to the designers of my booklet on Bulgarian Realists to organise the CD which will accompany it (with 800 photos of Bulgarian paintings of that period); and to get an initial rough copy. 
This last was particularly needed to take with me to the midday invitation I had received to visit what had been the home of one of Bulgaria’s great painters - Tsanko Lavrenov. The invitation came from his grandson (Plaven Petrov, now the owner of the Loran Gallery) who has turned the flat in one of Sofia’s nice old areas into a great showpiece for this self-taught artist from Plovdiv. 
Born in 1896, Lavrenov viewed with suspicion the new artistic trends coming from Western Europe, wanting instead to establish a style more faithful to local traditions. He spent considerable time in monasteries in the area and on Mount Athos, studying the paintings and books in the archives. He was a close friend of Zlatyu Boaadjiev and Danail Dechev. 
Plaven had been impressed that a foreigner was so interested in Bulgarian art as to prepare and publish – at his own expense - a booklet on the subject. Over wine, we explored some of the peculiarities of the Bulgarian market. Then an inspection of the superb collection he has of his grandfather’s paintings. He was kind enough to present me with this print signed by Lavrenov himself.

Evening saw another great Vernissaj at Vihra’s Astry Gallery – this time showing some of young Maria Raycheva’s output from a visit she made recently to Paris.

Notre Dame and the Seine must be the most over-painted subjects of all time. Tackling them again runs therefore the risk of boredom – the artistic equivalent of a cliché. 

And I feel that the painting shown behind Maria in the photograph does fall into that category. 
Others, however, do show a really original touch – including a couple I bought. 

And while there, I also bought two fine 
bronzes - by Petra Iliev. 

This is her "Lady with Double Bass"

Friday morning, it was a visit to the Sofia City Art Gallery’s special exhibition of Ivan Nenov, another of Bulgaria’s greats -  but this time in the modernist style. 

He lived to the grand old age of 95 and apparently remained active and dignified to the end. 

He is known for his portraits of women on the beach or at windows but, over his long life, was very versatile and went through different stages. He traveled extensively in the 1930s and took part in international exhibitions of modern art in Italy and Germany.

However, he was declared a formalist in the 1950s and, for almost a decade, could not exhibit his works. Instead he focused on ceramics and mosaics. In 1975 he managed, somehow, to give his first solo exhibition in Sofia (previous attempts had been thwarted). Rehabilitated in the late 1950s, he was elected in 1994 an academician in the Academy of Sciences.

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