February 18, 2019

An European Journey – Modern Bulgarian Art

H.E.  Mr. Rumen Alexandrov, Ambassador of Bulgaria during his speech.

The Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria, together with STOEP – Stichting Oost-Europa Projecten and VNB – Vereniging Nederland-Bulgarije presented the exhibition of the work of twelve Bulgarian artists in Studio Pulchri (The Hague, Netherlands) from January 13, 2018 till February 4.

The exhibition includes works by four artists living and working in the Netherlands and several works of artists living in Bulgaria, provided by the collection The Queeste of the Dutch art collector Tjapko Jager.

Through the eyes of the Dutch and Bulgarian artists we can see the journey of Bulgaria – through the labyrinths of Europe – as the Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov describes them in his book The Physics of Sorrow – the rich labyrinths of Europe, full of stories, colors, joys and sorrows where one can easily get lost, if not for the helpful ‘thread of Ariadne’, leading us with compassion and humanity to the rescuing light ….

The paintings, sculptures, and photos at the exhibition combine the rich experiences from different parts of Europe  – the warmth of the South with the reflection and rationality of the North.  They also show the European journey of Bulgaria – from a country behind the Iron Curtain (reflected in some of the works from the collection of The Queeste) – on the way back to united Europe – and the last 10 years – as a member of the European Union (in the works of the Bulgarian/Dutch artists living in The Netherlands).

Their themes reflect that journey as well – the micro and macro worlds (Kantcho Kanev), roots (Rada Yakova), East-West ( Radina Dankova), the searching spirit (Tchavdar Iliev). The works from The Queeste run by Tjapko and Marjolijn reflect the journey in a different way – the search for answers in the long and changing history of Bulgaria.

The figurative images of the paintings, the statues and the photo-pictures at this exhibition tempt us to discover the expressive, magical world behind them. Because the artists live and work in different parts of Europe, their works of art unite elements from different cultures, but all of it as part of the European cultural spectrum. 

Kantcho Kanev has been living in The Hague for many years. Member of the Pulchri collective, Kantcho is well known in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Singapore, Romania, and Bulgaria. His paintings, ceramics, and drawings are composed of layers of paint that playfully combine surfaces and lines and that directly address the onlooker. The symbols in his work tell stories that carry the spectator into Kantcho’s own world.

Tchavdar Iliev has also been living and working in The Netherlands for many years. He settled in 1990 and paved the way for other artists by the high standards of his work. Tchavdar is a respected member of Pulchri, holder of the prestigious Pulchri prize ‘Van Ommeren – De Voogdfor 2016. His work has been acquired by many private and public institutions, amongst them the Municipality of The Hague. His work can be admired in several sizes. The smaller bronzes have a balanced relationship with his monumental statues. He tries to find an equilibrium between lines and volumes that are constructed around one vertical, bearing line. Iliev creates abstractions of these figuratives by using elements like motion, tension, and balance.

The large photo-works which Radina Dankova makes show views of cities, shops, private and public spaces. These colorful impressions originated during visits to many different countries. The urban, stilled landscapes obtain a symbolic value through single, sparing details. Recurring topics in her work are different cultures and themes like ‘Home’ and search for ‘Identity’. Radina has been living and working in The Netherlands for more than 25 years. Her photos are a kaleidoscope of European identities and a valuable contribution to the discourse on place, and belonging.

The work of the youngest representative Rada Yakova, living in The Netherlands for the past 5-6 years is charged with direct emotion and much attention for composition. The central theme is the dialogue between motion, body and paint. She builds her work through layers of fast brush strokes. Her direct, sketchy and intuitive way of working requires no predetermined image.

Tjapko Jager, on one of his many travels to Eastern Europe, fell in love with Bulgaria and its art and artists. For him and his wife that was the reason to start Gallery and Sculpture garden The Queeste, which is specialized in Bulgarian art. Queeste means search. It represents their search for beauty. The works from The Queeste include well-established names in the Bulgarian modern art – Svetlin Russev, Nikolaj Maistorov, Jordan Katsamunski, Marina Marinova, Stanislav Pamukchiev, Ivailo Mirchev, Rumen Skorchev and Emil Popov. They show the richness of Bulgarian tradition and high standards in art. All those who you see exhibited here are ‘a standard themselves. Universal themes as the creation, the quest for identity, the search for truth, love, salvation, light, and darkness – you see them all in their work, comprising the years both before 1989 and after. They show the everlasting journey of Bulgaria and its people -in a quest for light, freedom, love, and understanding.

We hope that all visitors to the exhibition will become a part of Bulgaria’s quest on the European journey!


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