When I was in Sofia in January 2011 I realised that there was a need for a booklet in English on modern Bulgarian painting. Nothing exists for the visitor - who could spend many pleasant hours (days) traversing the charming centre, visiting galleries, talking with the owners and painters – and, ultimately, buying. I had made a short list of the painters I knew – mainly as a checklist for my visits but which (if consulted surreptitiously) also gave me the air of a cognoscenti and therefore better treatment! My friend Yassen of Konus Gallery was very helpful in suggesting additional painters – what was 2 pages grew quickly to five. And I decided that, as I had the time and the passion, I might as well try to produce such a booklet – on the excellent principle that the best way to learn about a subject is to write a book about it. Of course, discovery is part of the pleasure – and too detailed a book would deny visitors that pleasure – so I don’t have to be ambitious.
It’s not too difficult to get pictures from the net - mainly from the Archives of the Victoria Gallery (which is holding another auction on 31 march – a particularly bumper one it looks) - but what is not so easy is to get some biographical detail.
If I’m lucky the Viktoria Gallery site (or the great Catalogue of the Sofia City Gallery) will give me the date and place of birth and death – and the artists under which the painter in question studies. If I’m very lucky, they will tell me that they spent a few years studying in Munich, Paris or France. But that’s all.
Having worked intensively on the subject in January and produced an outline of the sort of booklet I had in mind. I gave the matter a rest. I have more than a hundred names – and should start the preparation for the month I plan to spend in Sofia shortly. So perhaps a couple of entries a day will encourage my friends in Bulgaria to give me some feedback – and data?
What basically do I need to know? Dates; place of birth; influences; genre; price range, patrimony (how easy to export?)
Let me start with someone who arrived on my list only in January - Abadjiev (Petko) (1903-2004) who was a friend of Bulgaria’s greatest painter of the mid 20th century, Nikola Tanev (whose charming landscape paintings now fetch for about 10,000 euros). You can see a couple of Abadjiev’s paintings on the Viktoria Gallery site (a 25x20 oil can be had for 400 euros at the 31 March auction). So I’m missing quite a lot of info about him.
Alekov, Napoleon is an old favourite of mine (1912-2002). A seascape specialist, there are a fair number of his paintings available on the Viktoria site (a nice shipyard scene 50x40 went recently for only 350 euros). But that’s all I have on him.
The painting at the top of this post is a new artist for me – but very striking - Alexandrov (Zdravko) (1911-1999) This large (80x70) went for only 1,000 euros
UPDATE; On 24 April 2012 I duly lodged a 60 page booklet (and CD Rom with almost 1,000 pictures) with a young design team in Sofia and copies of the booklet are now available - try the Elephant Bookshop.
A year ago I was thinking about post-autistic public administration.
A lot has been recently about capacity development - a lot of it interesting and useful. But the best on the subject has just been issued - and focuses on the practitioner. Very helpful!