what you get here

This is not a blog which opinionates on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers to muse about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

The Bucegi mountains - the range I see from the front balcony of my mountain house - are almost 120 kms from Bucharest and cannot normally be seen from the capital but some extraordinary weather conditions allowed this pic to be taken from the top of the Intercontinental Hotel in late Feb 2020

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do paintings speak for themselves?

On what was supposed to be the last evening in Sofia, a burst of purchases – this time from my friend Ruhmen's small Neron Gallery on the corner of Tsar Samuel and Neofin Rilski streets-

  • two Petar Boiadjiev seascapes; 
  • two more Kolyo Kolev Rhodope landscapes from the early 1940s; 
  • and a dramatic Cyril Mateev showing the towering Rila massif. 
This on top of a couple more Naidenovs and a Kolyo Kolev a week earlier.

The painting at the top is the first Petar Boiadjiev I ever bought and one of my favourites - a 1943 one of the  Kaliakra cliffs just north of Balcik which was such an attraction for Romanian painters in the early part of the 20th century.
I'm told that Boiadjiev (1907-1963) studied art in Bucharest. That (and the birth and death dates) are the only things I know about him. His seascapes (for me) rival those of Boris Stefchev.

Kolyo Koev (1905-50) is another one of many Bulgarian painters I wish I knew more about – his Rhodope landscapes from the 1940s have a very distinctive colourful impressionist style – with the oil paint thickly applied.
All I know about him is that he committed suicide in 1950 at the age of 45.

Kiril Mateev (1920-2006) was a prolific painter - particularly of dramatic mountain scenes like this one.

Interesting that information about so many of my favourites is so difficult to get hold of!
I occasionally get the gallerists to consult their "bible" (the old artistic encyclopaedia of Bulgaria  painters many of them have) but (for names such as these) even this rarely reveals much.
A previous post regretted the lack of information about the life of Grigor Naidenov many of whose Sofia cafe scenes in the decades from the 1920s now adorn my walls.
But does info about the training, travels, travails and friends of painters really add much to one's understanding of a painter? The portrait of Naidenov I included in that particular post is certainly a bonus.....
I've met some of the contemporary Bulgarian painters but don't really know much about them. Somehow, however, the times in which the older painters lived holds greater fascination. I want to know how they dealt with the various dilemmas they were faced with - not least the violent communist takeover of 1944.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Sofia’s City Gallery has a nice exhibition of aquarelles drawn from its archives which give a good sense of this particular genre as practised by Bulgarians in the past century. It starts with 3 majestic paintings from one Joseph Oberbauer (1853-1926); then 2 typical military scenes by Jaroslav Veshin from 1902 and 1905; before a magnificent large picture of a schooner in rough sea (1928) by Alexander Moutafov; and typical aquarelles by Shturkelov, Frantsaliyski and Jordan Geshev. I was glad to see a Naidenov - but the stars were for me the blue-skyed Plovdiv scene by Titrinov and this 1950 Vladimir Manski - "Parade at the National Theatre".
The viewing was made all the more enjoyable by the company and insights of the exhibition’s curator Svetla Georgieva, a painter and musician in her own right.  

By coincidence, I had bought an aquarelle the previous day - unusually for me. And a large one at that. It has the same feel to it as the Manski and is by a young contemporary - Andrean Vekiarov.

And I am reminded that I failed a few months back to pay tribute to the Sofia City Gallery for its great exhibition celebrating its 60th Anniversary.
The accompanying book - A Possible History - Bulgarian Art through the collection of Sofia City Art Gallery - is one of the best in its series. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

First real day of spring

At last a pleasant day – with Mount Vitosha sharply edged in blue; white clouds scudding across its face; and people at last enjoying their coffees at the pavement cafes. 

Diana Staykov’s “Absinthe” gallery is a welcome new addition to the galleries which can be found on Tzar Samuil (it’s at no 37). She focuses on aquarelles and set the tone by pouring us a glass of one of the most stunning Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever tasted. 
It was actually a 2010 New Zealand Marlborough but made by a young Bulgarian Alex Velianov who now markets the wines under the brand Two Friends and brings the wines back to Bulgaria on his visits.

I was also taken with the work of Atanas Matsoureff in a book lying in the gallery. His website is even more interesting for its examples of  his drawings, aquarelles and paintings. Some of the portraits - such as this one - remind me of the famous Andrew Wyeth! I realised, I had already seen some of his drawings at Byliana’s A and B Gallery.

But it was the 20 cm bronze sculpture of Marianna Kusheva which really took my fancy and now has pride of place in our small Sofia attic flat.