THE TRACES ARE LOST
Several names, a hall with paintings, and a public who rarely comes back to see them again. Names of artists who will perhaps never make a name for themselves. And a gallery that no one is likely to remember. But all the same, this is an exhibition of conceived uneasiness. In it are fruits of stolen time and a timidly constituted spirit. […] Nevertheless, they compel our fascination, even if they sometimes disappoint us. They compel us return to their colorful canvases, we gaze at their stilted contents and, who knows why, we begin to believe them. Maybe because they are ours. Such is the spirit of our provinces. Insecure in their expression and unencouraged in their achievements. Their fancies do not obey studying, just like the tastes of their small number of patrons.
V. Krumov, 1930
The Association of South Bulgarian Artists had its origins in a small meeting that took place in the city of Plovdiv, in 1912. Its history spanned over four decades until its dissolution in 1948. During that period, more than 160 artists held membership in the creative society. Quite a few of them are considered by today’s art historians and by the public to have been creators of colossal significance in the development of Bulgarian art. Some of the most prominent among them were, indubitably, Anton Mitov, Andrey Nikolov, Ivan Lazarov, Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, Vasil Barakov, David Peretz, and TsankoLavrenov.
This research, which was conducted over a period of more than five years, comprised finding out primary source documents and catalogues and leafing through tens of thousands of pages of magazines and journals. The research team uncovered also a number of artists’ names, now mostly forgotten, deservedly or not, or never really remembered. The findings added previously unknown nuances to our knowledge of the history of the Association of South Bulgarian Artists and of Bulgarian art as a whole. The exposition is an attempt at introducing all hitherto identified authors allied with the Association (full members, associate members, and guest members). Each of them is represented, where possible, with a work of art that he or shedisplayedwithin collective exhibitions staged by the south Bulgarian artists. A good part of the vestiges left behind by these artists has disappeared. Information as to their birth and death, as well as on their oeuvre, has yet to be found.
The exhibition tracks the Association’s development during different periods of its existence. Accents have been placed both on the prehistory of artistic life in the city of Plovdiv and on the authors, who broke away from the Association in the late 1920s to form the short-lived splinter group of artists named ‘Zveno’ (Team).An equally important and interesting aspect of the exhibition is the perusal of the Association’s history in the years after 1944.Restoring the knowledge of what happened during that period is becoming increasingly unattainable.
The exhibition has been staged in partnership with the Plovdiv City Art Gallery and with financial support from the ‘Culture’ Programme of the Sofia Metropolitan Municipality.
The exposition comprises works from the collections of the Plovdiv City Art Gallery, the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery in Sofia, the art galleries of the cities of Burgas, Kazanlak, Kyustendil, Pazardzhik, Ruse, Silistra, Sliven, Stara Zagora, and Yambol, as well as from private collections.
Adelina Fileva, Director of the Sofia City Art Gallery
Krasimir Linkov, Director of the Plovdiv City Art Gallery
The research project was carried out by:
Plamen V. Petrov – idea and concept
Natasha Noeva and Nicoleta Gologanova – curators
Ramona Dimova – systematisation and logistics
Ilinka Chergarova – restorer
Tracy Speed – translation into English
Tanya Puneva – proof-reader
Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova – exposition design
Tsvetan Ignatovski – photography
We would like to extend our gratitude to the teams of the Central State Archives of Bulgaria, Archives Regional Directorate in Plovdiv, and ‘Ivan Vazov’ National Library in Plovdiv, as well as to the Union of Bulgarian Artists, the Sofia City Library, and the ‘Enakor’ Auction House. Our research efforts and the exhibition would not have been complete without the cooperation of the Lazarov family, Mario Zlatev, Professor Hristo Balarev, Architect TodorTopliyski, Nina Mircheva, BoryanaValchanova, and Milena Balcheva-Bozhkova.