Stara Zagora was reached in exactly 3 hours – along an excellent motorway which, however, peters out at that point. It has a superb location with the Balkan mountains as a majestic backcloth. It was completely destroyed by the Turks in 1877 for welcoming the Russian army of General Gurko and was subsequently rebuilt on a strict grid-plan with leafy Boulevards.
I therefore had no problems finding the Art gallery which is a most impressive one – well maintained and offering, for 1 euro, 3 separate exhibitions.
The permament one displays some of the works of the many painters who have been born and worked there – eg Anton Mitov, Mario Zhekov and Atanas Mihov (1879-1974) who, with Zhekov and Dobre Dobrev, is now becoming one of my real favourites. Paintings by Nikola Tanev, Ivan Penkov (below) and Moutafov were also on display.
The Gallery also offered a collection of women’s portraits and, finally, a display of woodcuts and graphics in a temperature controlled room.
A superb book The Artists of Stara Zagora was also available - produced by the Gallery Director Marin Dobrev who was kind enough to sign it for me. And I was allowed to snap many of the paintings – without flash, of course. The exhibits were so enthralling I spent almost two hours in total there – with a return visit after the lunchbreak.
Many new names – eg Vasil Marinov and a great portraitist Elizabeth Konsulova-Vazova (1881-1965)