Yanaki Manasiev. Alone and Apart 90 Years Since the Artist’s Birth
Yanaki Manasiev. Alone and Apart 90 Years Since the Artist’s Birth

Yanaki Manasiev is among the most prominent Bulgarian artists of the second half of the 20th century, yet he remains relatively unknown to the wider public, especially the younger generation. During his short life, he created work whose bulk, diversity and quality are quite impressive.

Lonely and Standing Apart is the most comprehensive exhibition of Yanaki Manasiev’s work. It commemorates the 90th anniversary of the artist’s birth by an exhaustive overview of his ouvre presenting both his most notable and less familiar artworks. The exhibition seeks to present all themes and narratives developed by the artist, as well as the diverse techniques he used in his creative process. Yanaki Manasiev was known among his contemporaries as a bold experimenter and innovator who introduced new themes and visual devices in 1960’s and 1970’s art, an era characterized by the effort to shed the dogma of socialist realism.


The exhibition reveals this very aspect of Yanaki Manasiev’s work while also offering a glimpse of the private world of the artist, who stood apart from Bulgaria’s lively arts and culture scene to dedicate himself to his art. His work is certainly dialectic, featuring expressive, dramatic and visually stunning pieces, as well as calming, harmonious and exquisitely poetic ones. Humans and their complex spiritual and emotional world were the main focus of his work. His most preferred genres were portraiture and figure composition, landscape painting being of minor interest to the artist. Manasiev was equally interested in painting and graphic art, creating plenty of powerful graphic artwork cycles. The woman, with her complex feelings and moods, delicate looks and lyrical facial expression, takes center stage in Manasiev’s work. Exquisite female portraits giving off a poetic vibe are among the artist’s most signature works.

Even though he was only 45 when he left this world, Manasiev left his mark on Bulgarian art, influencing plenty of Bulgarian artists both with his artistic stance and his work as a lecturer at the Fine Arts Faculty of SS Cyrill and Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo over the period 1970–1978.


The exhibition features more than 70 paintings, 20 graphic artworks, as well as some drawings revealing various stages of the artist’s creative process.


Works presented in the exhibition belong to the permanent collections of: Sofia City Art Gallery, Boris Georgiev Varna City Art Gallery, Plovdiv City Art Gallery, National Gallery of Art, Boris Denev Veliko Tarnovo City Art Gallery, Dimitar Dobrovich Sliven City Art Gallery, Elena Karamihaylova Shumen City Art Gallery, Georges Papasoff  Yambol City Art Gallery, Iliya Beshkov Pleven City Art Gallery, Prof. Iliya Petrov Razgrad City Art Gallery, Nikola Marinov Targoviste City Art Gallery, Svetlin Rusev Collection-Donation Art Gallery, city of Pleven, Hristo Tsokev Gabrovo City Art Gallery, Yanaki Manasiev House Museum, village of Bozhitsa, and private collectors.


The exhibition has an accompanying bilingual catalogue presenting all of the artist’s work.

Exhibition team:

Curators: Adelina Fileva, Galina Dimitrova-Dimova, Mila Stareishinska-Angelova

Design: Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova

Restorers: Ilinka Chergarova, Milan Mihaylovich, Svetlana Hristova


Yanaki Manasiev was born on 2 November 1932 in the village of Bozhitsa, Targoviste District, into the family of Stankiya and Nikola Manasiev. He grew up in the pristine environment of the Bulgarian countryside. In 1952, he was admitted to Nikolay Pavlovich Higher Institute of Arts (now National Academy of Art, Sofia) to do a painting major under Prof. Nenko Balkanski. After a short hiatus because of health issues, he went on with his studies under Prof. Iliya Petrov. He graduated in 1958, moving a year later to the city of Shumen where he found a job as an artist at the Madara automotive plant and the Shumenska Zarya newspaper. Over the period 1960–1970, he was active in the city of Shumen, where he was elected secretary and chair of the council of the district division of the Union of Bulgarian Artists (UBA). At the beginning of his career as an artist, Yanaki Manasiev participated in a couple of UBA youth exhibitions (1961 and 1966), which allowed him to apply for and get UBA membership. Throughout his career, he participated in numerous UBA collective art exhibitions (CAE). In 1970, he moved to the city of Veliko Tarnovo where he taught painting. He had an impressive teaching career, greatly influencing the development of generations of aspiring young artists. In 1975, he specialized at the I. P. Repin Academy of Art in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) where he created an impressive watercolour series. The latter was presented in a solo exhibition at the UBA gallery on 125 Rakovski St. in February 1976, causing a sensation on the Bulgarian art scene. He passed away on 23 June 1978, a few months after being diagnosed with cancer. His final resting place is in his native village of Bozhitsa. Following his death, posthumous and retrospective exhibitions commemorating the artist’s work were put up at Sofia City Art Gallery, UBA, Targoviste City Art Gallery, Veliko Tarnovo City Art Gallery, Shumen City Art Gallery, Gabrovo City Art Gallery, Razgrad City Art Gallery and Pleven City Art Gallery.

Parting (from the Memorial 23 series), mid-1970s lithography Boris Denev Art Gallery – Veliko Tarnovo

Company, 1964 watercolour on paper Nikola Marinov Art Gallery – Targovishte

Music, 1972 oil paint on board Sofia City Art Gallery

Portrait (Vesela Kincheva), 1978 acrylic on fibreboard Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery – Shumen

Portrait of S. (Stefka Cholova), 1976 oil on canvas Sofia City Art Gallery

Epilogue, 1876, 1976 tempera, paper on fibreboard Boris Denev Art Gallery – Veliko Tarnovo

Contemplation I, early 1960s oil on paper Nikola Marinov Art Gallery – Targovishte

Meddling in Matisse’s “Conversation”, 1975 watercolour on paper National Gallery

Girl in Pink, 1975 oil on canvas Georges Papazoff Art Gallery – Yambol

Self-Portrait with Hat, 1960s pencil on paper Ivo Dimitrov Collection

Figure on a Couch (with Hat), 1976 lithography, 4/10 Yanaki Manasiev House Museum, Bozhitsa Village

Self-Portrait I, mid-1960s oil on cardboard Nikola Marinov Art Gallery – Targovishte

My Parents (Afternoon Sun), 1973 oil on canvas Sofia City Art Gallery