Painting after Photography in Bulgaria in the 1970s and 1980s
2 March – 4 June 2023

The art of the late 20th century in Bulgaria features a long list of problems and thematic ramifications, among which is the interaction between painting and documentary – in the form of visual quotations, transformations of style, influences by the technological process of photography, or hidden sources of content.

The exhibition presents works created between 1973 and 1989 and explores the tendency towards interpreting photographs and images from printed publications in the space of the painting, characteristic of that period. This project does not engage in assigning categories ‘by photo’, ‘by nature’, ‘by memory’ or ‘by imagination’. We analyse the trend through the lens of late socialism and the specific information environment of the time – between political propaganda and news from abroad. We note the influences of earlier periods on the contemporary art of the time. We also trace the development of the subject in Bulgaria over a period of sixteen years.

The selection highlights the quality of the painting representation, the multi-contextual content and the technological innovations of the 1970s and 1980s. While selecting the artists and works of art, we also identified a common psychological profile of the well-informed artist of the late socialist period, who is interested in contemporary culture and in the other forms of art. One, who analyses and freely translates diverse information into their own visual language.

The list of artists, selected for the project, includes Tekla Aleksieva, Georgi Bozhilov, Milko Bozhkov, Toma Varbanov, Maya Gorova, Ivan Dimov, Maria Zafirkova, Vasko Ivanov, Petyo Marinov, Teofan Sokerov, Elena Sokerova, Sasho Stoitsov, Dimitar Traychev, Vanko Urumov, Stefan Yanev.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue and includes a lecture programme and audio-information materials.

The works of art included in the exhibition and the publication, are from the collections of: the Regional History Museum, Blagoevgrad; Boris Georgiev Art Gallery, Varna; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; House of Humour and Satire Museum, Gabrovo; House of Culture, Galabovo; Art Gallery, Dobrich; Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Museum of the Ministry of Interior; Lyuben Gaydarov Art Gallery, Pernik; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; History Museum, Samokov; Silistra Art Gallery; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Nikola Marinov Art Gallery, Targovishte; National Art Gallery; Sofia City Art Gallery;  Ivan Nenkov Collection; Temenuga Stancheva Collection; Nikolay Savov Collection

The project is implemented with the financial support of the National Culture Fund under the PROGRAMME FOR THE RESTORATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF STATE, REGIONAL AND MUNICIPAL CULTURAL INSTITUTES.


Requiem – To Andrei Tarkovsky, pre-1987, mixed media, 260х500 cm. Courtesy: Dobrich Art Gallery

Pages From a Novel, pre-1977, oil on canvas, 191х190 cm. Courtesy: Sofia City Art Gallery

An Unknown Lady, 1982, oil on canvas, 100х100 cm. Courtesy: Dobrich Art Gallery

One Day ІІ, 1986, oil on canvas, 140х211 cm. Courtesy: Vladimir Dimitrov-The Master Art Gallery, Kyustendil