The Social Realism exhibition comprises the period from the end of the 40s to the end of the 50s. Some later works, thematically and stylistically continuing the same trend, are also featured. 80 paintings, graphic works, and 20 sculptures by 70 artists are shown. The period spotlighted is one of the gloomiest in Bulgarian art. After the initial enthusiasm that accompanied the events from 1944 came a period of monstrous repressions against artists. The majority of them stopped painting, other emigrated, and the rest, in order to survive, had to conform to the officially imposed art policy. Thus, together with completely forgotten names, the works of famous authors such as Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Venev, Vaska Emanuilova, Nenko Balkanski and others can be seen. At the end of the 40s, Vulko Chervenkov and the official instruments of the cultural policy brutally imposed the new ‘artistic method’. It required creators to conform to strict guidelines regarding themes and artistic shapes. Genres such as still life, interior, and landscape were marked bourgeois and capitalist. The building of the new socialist life and the ‘new person’- multiply skilled machine worker and holder of an order became topical. In portraits, the images of political leaders were the most popular: Georgui Dimitrov, Lenin, Stalin, portraits of workers, and typified portraits of shock-workers and brigadiers. The figurative composition, which was a leading genre in the period, was completely dedicated to historic events from the revolutionary past and to topics connected with the new building. In terms of style, solely academic development of the shape and the realistic authenticity were valued. All deviations were proclaimed as formalistic. This led to the unification of the artistic styles and to the introduction of the unique ‘collective method’ of painting.
It is for the first time when the Social Realism exhibition treats in depth a period, which was neglected for decades. Most of the paintings have not been shown since the time of their entering the gallery collection. Bulgarian viewers have the unique chance to get familiar with a period that lasted 15 years and sacrificed the talent of numerous Bulgarian artists. The exposition features documentary materials from newspapers and magazines dating back from that period.