The exhibition is an outcome of years-long research of the work of Nikolay Raynov, one of the most prominent figures on the Bulgarian art scene during the first half of the twentieth century. He earned fame mostly through his literary and journalistic work. He also went down in history as the author of the first history of art in Bulgarian, and the author of one of the first monographs on Bulgarian art. He graduated from the School of Art and Industry, Sofia, in 1919. He defined himself throughout his whole life as an artist and decorator: he created a considerable body of work belonging to the genres of illustration and book design, also completing numerous decoration projects. Yet his signature works, recognized as his most unique and distinguishable, are his stylized paintings created during the 1920’s and 1930’s. These paintings set him apart as an extraordinary phenomenon of the Bulgarian art scene during this period making references to the philosophical system that provides the foundation for all of his work. Each of Nikolay Raynov’s works, from the most insignificant drawing through to his theoretical works, constitutes a fragment of this elaborate structure. Some of his decorative compositions are complemented by an explanation of the theme, yet all of them reveal Nikolay Raynov’s astonishing erudition and multifaceted interests spanning the fields of philosophy, religious history, ethnography, physics, botany, astrology, chemistry, etc.
The exhibition features more than 120 works by Nikolay Raynov divided into two groups. The exhibition is an attempt to look at the artist’s legacy from key vantage points through texts, decorative nature paintings, graphic compositions and illustrations. The exhibition presents early works of the artist from his time as an undergraduate student at the State School of Drawing (1909-1911); more mature works created during the 1920’s; engravings created during his visit to Paris (1925-1927), and decorative landscapes from the 1930’s, including landscapes with lacquer paints on foil, a technique unique to Raynov as far as the Bulgarian context is concerned. The exhibition also features nature drawings whose media include India ink, tempera, colored pencils, and watercolor. They reveal an unresearched aspect of Nikolay Raynov’s work related to the process of stylization.
Works included in the exhibition were provided by the National Gallery of Art, Plovdiv City Art Gallery, Dimitar Dobrovich Sliven City Art Gallery, Vladimir Dimitrov the Master Kyustendil City Art Gallery, Museum at the National Academy of Arts, Svetlin Rusev Donation-Collection, city of Pleven, National Museum of Literature, Archives State Agency, Nuance Gallery, Sofia, Philippopolis Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgarian Art Collection Foundation, art collectors Boyan Radev, Vladimir Iliev, Ivo Dimitrov, Ventsislav Kadiev, Dimitar Indzhov, Fitsov Collection, and other individuals.
The exhibition includes screenings of the films Nikolay Raynov, 1984, writer: Alexander Beshkov, director: Mihail Soykov, and Nikolay Raynov, Tobacco Man, 1989, director: Hristo Valev, writer: Darin Kambov, both provided by the Bulgarian National Television.
Curators: Stanislava Nikolova, Galina Dekova
Exhibition design: Svetla Georgieva
Exhibition catalogue in Bulgarian and English is available.
Exhibition-related events at the Sofia City Art Gallery:
14 March: Lecture by Maria Miteva, Ph. D., senior assistant professor, Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Nikolay Raynov. On Applied Art.
21 March: Lecture by Prof. Svetlana Stoycheva, Ph. D., Krastyo Sarafov National Academy for Theater and Film Arts. Nikolay Raynov, Portrait of the Artist.
28.03. Lecture by Prof. Ivanka Raynova, Ph. D., Institute for the Study of Society and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Spiritual Aspect of Nikolay Raynov’s Study of Art and his Painting.
3 April, 2019: Jubilee Research Conference commemorating the 130th anniversary of Nikolay Raynov’s Birth organized by the Institute for Literature, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Events hosted by other institutions:
9 - 10 May, 2019: Philosophy, Art, Literature International Conference commemorating the 130th anniversary of Nikolay Raynov’s Birth and the 100th anniversary of Bogomil Raynov’s Birth organized by the Bulgarian Philosophical Society, Institute for the Study of Society and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, etc. hosted by the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski