The exhibition presents Constantine Starkelov’s life and art based on archival material, namely photographs, personal diaries, recollections, letters from contemporaries of the artist, documents, articles and reviews concerning his artworks featured in newspapers and magazines, and last but not least, works by the artist created throughout his career.
Once a marginal figure, struggling artist, loner, wanderer, bohemian, Starkelov, a widow’s son, became the epitome of artistic success. Disregarding safe vantage points, the artist opted for creation and creativity, leaving behind landscapes from around Bulgaria and the world, numerous portraits, and images of war.
What the above reveal is the image of a person who is fond of life, the company of friends, songs, poetry, fine wine, parties. Yet the artist would endure plenty of hardships throughout his life. He would not always have sufficient means to create art, attend to his own needs or the needs of his family. Regardless of his restlessness and frequent anxiety, the artist remained optimistic, poetic, sincere, and charged with pantheistic love for nature, all of which helped him create hundreds of artworks.
To him, Nature was the key to an alternative world of mountains, fields, rivers, and valleys, purging him of all worldly things, bestowing upon him sincerity of feeling. A feeling that helped him find creative inspiration – joy and sadness, admiration and reverence. Thus, the artist became a loner at this stage of his life.
The lonesome wanderer who created new horizons out of the freedom he enjoyed in nature. He was the first to reach them. Alone. But not for long – these new horizons came closer. Within reach. Upon the last touch of the brush, upon its last stroke, they would belong to the World, to everybody else.
In commemoration of the 130th anniversary of Starkelov’s birth, the SCAG team set out to recover the timeline of the artist’s life and career going over hundreds of documents, articles, recollections, texts and other archival material. The study helped learn more about the artist’s life, the number and types of artworks he contributed to various exhibitions throughout the years, and the original titles Starkelov gave to his paintings.
The exhibition features more than 300 works, including oil and watercolour paintings, as well as drawings, showcasing the artist’s work across his entire career. The bulk of his work is to be found at the Central State Archives, the National Gallery o andthe National Museum of Military History. Smaller in volume, yet playing a significant role in the study, are the works belonging to the permanent collections of galleries and museums across the country: Sofia City Art Gallery, Plovdiv City Art Gallery, Boris Georgiev Varna City Art Gallery, Dimitar Dobrovich Sliven City Art Gallery, Dobrich City Art Gallery, Kazanlak City Art Gallery, Nikolay Pavlovich Svistov City Art Gallery, Ruse City Art Gallery, Smolyan City Art Gallery, Stanislav Dospevski Pazardzhik City Art Gallery,Stara Zagora City Art Gallery, Museum Collection of the National Academy of Arts, National Museum of Literature, Museum of Regional History – City of Kardzhzali, Museum of Regional History – Sofia.
Another significant aspect of the exhibition is the fact that it features works that are being presented for the first time, as well as pieces that have been only rarely been on display. These works come from the collections of the State Cultural Institute Under the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria’s diplomatic missions in Ankara, Belgrade, Berlin, Bratislava, the Bulgarian National Bank, the King Boris and Queen Giovanna Historic Preservation Fund, the Arts Research Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, as well as from the Foreign Ministry’s exhibition space.
An exhibition catalogue in Bulgarian and English is available.
Curators: Adelina Fileva, Krasimir Iliev, Plamen Petrov