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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!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sofia's new galleries

An impressive new gallery has just opened just 100 metres from my flat – the Red Point Gallery – with a display of young Bulgarian graphic artists.
With the opening in recent years ago of the Finesse and Nuance Galleries in superb buildings in the heart of Sofia and, last autumn of the Nirvana Gallery, in a lovely 1920's house, Sofia now boasts an even more inviting choice for artistic exploration. And all within easy walking distance….

Clearly an update is needed of my 2012 post in which I extolled the virtues of the Sofia galleries, the more interesting of which I itemized in the little book Introducing the Bulgarian Realists
Then I listed 16 galleries – but the latest version of the book Bulgarian Realists – updated edition has 29  which offer examples of the older tradition in Bulgarian painting.

This makes commentary and comparison all the more challenging – but, owing no favours, I can let rip….
Well-displayed art in a lovely setting may warm one’s heart but is not actually my favoured setting for finding art – it signals the curator well down the marketing path with an eye to the higher end of the price market.
I vastly prefer the cluttered spaces of Rumen Manov ’s Neron gallery (Tsar Samuel 12) and Stefan Stefanov’s antique shop (in Tsar Assen 33) - where the promise of a hidden treasure lurks amongst the piles of paintings on the floor….    Valeri Filipov can also offer enticing piles of unframed paintings from the backroom of his impressive new gallery at 11 Vasil Levsky Bvd. 

Up until November 2015 I thought Victoria gallery was Sofia’s only auction house but Enakor gallery (just off Vitosha at the Court of Justice end) started strongly in summer 2015 and held 4 auctions in 2015 – the premises are probably the best Sofia has to offer….Their online catalogues can be accessed on the link…….In a way I’m relieved (or my chequebook is) that I’ve been missing out……perhaps because they’re just starting. Their prices are a bit on the high side – and their sales therefore only about 15% of what’s on offer.This is their November 2015 catalogue
The Loran Gallery at 16 Oborishte St mounts exhibitions every couple of months – focusing on Bulgarian painters from the last century. Their website has a good collection of paintings – a nice feature being the portraits of the 100 or so artists in the list. 

Despite the new galleries, however, it is Vihra Pesheva  of Astry Gallery who remains for me Bulgaria’s most brilliant impressario of private galleries - singlehandedly seeking out and promoting living artists – young and old – with frequent special exhibitions and materials. Vihra shares her enthusiasm so readily; and I never feel I am imposing when I drop in….. This is what I said some years ago about the Gallery –

Astry Gallery (under Vihra's tutelage) is unique for me amongst the Sofia galleries in encouraging contemporary Bulgarian painting. Two things are unique - first the frequency of the special exhibitions; but mainly that Vihra follows her passion (not fashion). I am not an art professional - but Vihra has a real art of creating an atmosphere in which people like me can explore the modern scene. I have been to a couple of other exhibition openings here and they were, sadly, full of what I call "pseuds" - people who talked loudly (mostly Embassy people) and had little interest in the paintings (except perhaps their investment value). 
Vihra and her Astry Gallery attract real people who share her passion and curiosity. It is always a joy to pop in there - and talk to her, visitors, artists and other collectors.

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