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Wednesday 12 June 2024
10 June 2024 - 16 June 2024
July 2024
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
05.04.2024 - 23.06.2024

KALINA TASEVA (1927 – 2022)

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Boryana Valchanova, PhD
Kalina Taseva ranks as one of the illustrious figures in the panorama of Bulgarian visual art. She embarked on her artistic career in the 1950s in an extremely difficult sociocultural environment — a time highly charged with ideological dogma regarding Bulgarian art. Her works were not affected by contemporary artistic trends; instead, they were multilayered, revealing a breadth and complexity of thought, and executed with extreme professionalism.
Through her powerful expression, and in a challenge to the time in which she lived, Taseva bolstered her prestige, thereby establishing her vivid presence in the annals of Bulgarian painting. Leading up to the 1980s, her large-format, multifigural compositions on favourite historical and Revivalist thematics were central to her oeuvre. She produced images of Macedonian rebels, revolutionaries and haidouks, of women wearing coarse peasant clothes, with a combination of plastic strength and emotionality — the faces are dramatic, austere, and preoccupied. The forms of her earlier works are more decorative, and the line is clear and definite; while, in later works, it is more expressive and dynamic.
A considerable proportion of the painter’s oeuvre was devoted to portraiture. Close friends, artists and intellectuals often served as her models, their complex inner worlds recreated through static poses and contemplative states, with the atmosphere and subdued lighting contributing to the psychological impact she wished to achieve. Taseva applied her entire painterly power to landscapes and still lifes, which perhaps most fully revealed her artistic talent. She expressed nature’s lyrical moods in a series of canvases dating from the 1990s. By combining her original sensibility, personal style and pronounced emotional strength, the artist sought for a poetic impression of chromaticism.
It is the first time that Kalina Taseva is being represented at the National Gallery. The exhibition includes artworks from the collections of the National Gallery; Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Veliko Tarnovo, Varna, Gabrovo, Dobrich, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Ruse, Sliven, and Yambol; from the heirs of Kalina Taseva, and private collections. The BNT film ‘Kalina and the Comites’ (2016) will also be shown within the exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
18.05.2024 - 16.06.2024


The Palace
The National Gallery possesses 22 graphic works by Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), which, along with those of several other artists from her circle, constitute this exhibition. These artworks emphasise the major plastic and philosophical aspects of both Kollwitz’ searches and her encounters with the work of some 20th-century artists extremely distinguished for their aesthetic and technical virtuosity—including Max Slevogt (1857–1920), Max Liebermann (1847–1935), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923), Lovis Corinth (1858–1925), Ernst Barlach (1870–1938), Heinrich Zille (1885–1929), Otto Dix (1891–1969), Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), and Otto Nagel (1894–1967). The National Gallery’s collection of their artworks is shown for the first time in its entirety, presenting their mastery while simultaneously revealing in depth their humanistic world view.
Regardless of the fact that they stood for different pathways in figurative art, these names influenced crucial moments in Käthe Kollwitz’ creative career and life, and the general trend of their views towards history, society and culture.
Käthe Kollwitz, the exhibition’s unifying figure, is the most well-known German artist, both in her time and today. Her style won recognition despite the constant opposition of official authorities to her oeuvre. Her art is shattering, addressing the most dramatic and universal human values with an emotional commitment to social conscience and pacifism. Her graphic and plastic works were a fateful part of what she herself experienced, shoulder to shoulder, along with the images she depicted—through the feelings of a mother mourning her dead child and of women who desperately want to save their children from war, misery, and hunger. She was the first female professor at the Berlin Academy of Arts, where she led the graphic arts masterclass before the Nazis forced her to leave because of her anti-fascist and creative stances.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024


The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
07.06.2024 - 21.07.2024


Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Neon colours, alternating contrasts, large compositions transcending the canvas and continuing along the walls, transform the museum into a field, transferring the festive spirit of the opening of the 33rd Summer Olympics, which will be held in Paris from 23 July to 11 August.
Sport is a culture that J. Pank interprets in the artist’s characteristic manner—through quotes from classic works, pop art borrowings, manga and deformations in a spirit of irony. The Olympic flame lights up in the hands of an animated female character who multiplies in various roles as an athlete.
The exhibition hall is transformed into a kind of arena—an Olympic Games venue, where the player is one and the same. Surprisingly, it is a woman with large eyes, lit-up gaze, full juicy lips, a small, comely face—stereotypes constantly imposed by the advertising industry. This comic character frequently appears in J. Pank’s art; however, in the context of the current exhibition, it takes on new meaning regarding the place of women in sports.
There is a view that wrestling, boxing, weightlifting are not suitable for women; if we look at the grassroots sports in Bulgaria, at their participation in marathons, only 10% of those who practice outdoor sports are women.
Against the background of these still prevailing prejudices, the artist has placed at the centre the image of Pierre de Coubertin, co-founder of the contemporary Olympic Games, on whose proposal they were modernised. While Discobolus—symbol of antique male beauty—by the ancient Greek sculptor Myron (mid-5th century BC) acquires a new, feminine face. Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.