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Friday 05 January 2024
01 January 2024 - 07 January 2024
February 2024
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
06.01.2024
Religious Holidays
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
07.01.2024
Religious Holidays
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
14.09.2023 - 07.01.2024

MESSAGES | 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

Under the Auspices of Mr Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the Financial Support of the Ministry of Culture
The selected by the curators Boryana Valchanova and Vessela Christova-Radoeva works follow the major stylistic and thematic threads in the artist’s output up to 1951, when he suffered a severe stroke that paralysed his right side, and the changes in his pictorial expression after he began painting again, but now with his left hand.
If we were to characterise in a single word the remarkable art of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev with its broad range of themes, subjects and plastic searches, the most appropriate term would be ‘messages’. We would with difficulty find a painting that did not exude innermost suggestions springing from the rich spiritual make-up and life-path of the artist.
This is an oeuvre of messages about patriotism and filial attachment, messages about morality, honour and duty, messages about the eternal and intransient, about the will of the spirit, strength of character and the pursuit of uniqueness.
Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s oeuvre is an encapsulation of the philosophical meaning of life, of the relationship between man and nature, and the relations between people. Without cliché, superficial narrativity, or chiding. Sometimes with a peculiar arbitrariness of interpretation that is not, however, an artistic pose, but an immanent spiritual attitude. An exceptionally talented and vital artist, he even, in his paintings, overturns the usual logic of time, space, existence and human nature. Across twelve galleries on two floors of the Palace, we present paintings, with the preparatory sketches for three of the most emblematic examples among them: ‘Wedding in Brezovo’ (1939), ‘Brezovo Shepherds’ (1941) and ‘In the Field/After Ploughing’ (1942); documentary material and photographs provided by the artist’s heirs and loaned from the archives of the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Artworks from the following sources are included: the National Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery; the galleries in Blagoevgrad, Varna, Vidin, Gabrovo, Kazanlak, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Yambol; the State Institute of Culture to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and from the heirs of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev; from UBB and Litex Commerce and private collections. ‘101 Portraits’ (2006), a documentary film produced by BNT Plovdiv, will be screened in one of the halls. The spatial design is by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut, with graphic design by Idea Design Studio. Visitors are, for the first time, to be offered an individual audio guide for nineteen of the paintings on display, with narrative by art critics from the National Gallery; this innovative bilingual product was developed by Our Heritage. The bilingual catalogue, translated into English by Nigrita Davies, will be presented on the eve of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s birth date, 22 October. The exhibition programme includes tours led by the curators and a presentation on the artist’s technology by Milena Donkova, the gallery’s chief restorer.
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
08.01.2024
Religious Holidays
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
09.01.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
10.01.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
11.01.2024

YOUNG TALENTS

Conductor
Peter Joyce
Samuel Couffignal
Rafaela Seywald
Crt Lasbaher
Soloist/s
Celestine Yoong
Yoanna Ruseva
Ensemble
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Program
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - Overture "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Ludwig van Beethoven - Leonore No. 3
Sergei Prokofiev - Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1 in D major, Op.19
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Concerto No.23 in A major, KV 488
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
12.01.2024
Religious Holidays
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
12.01.2024

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE

Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – version adapted for children
Runnig time: 01:00
Chamber hall
Performed in Bulgarian.
Music and Dance Events
12.01.2024

ANNA KARENINA

Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
13.01.2024

THE HERMIT OF RILA

A musical poem adapted for children
/Music by Father Kiril Popov/
Premiere
Chamber hall
It is performed in Bulgarian
Music and Dance Events
13.01.2024

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE

Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – version adapted for children
Runnig time: 01:00
Chamber hall
Performed in Bulgarian.
Music and Dance Events
13.01.2024

ANNA KARENINA

Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 14.01.2024

PERSONAL REALITY

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
Photographic prints by Vanessa Lu, Vladislav Lepoev, Ivelin Penchev – Ivicha, Liliana Karadzhova, Nikola Dyulgyarov, Usha
As part of its annual program, RADLAB has invited six artists to explore the topic of personal reality. The exhibition presents six photographic series, hand-printed at the studio’s facilities in Gabrovo, featuring 23 alternative photographic techniques: lithprint, salt print, chemigrams, carbon print, gum bichromate. These processes of imagemaking involved handling light-sensitive emulsions, performing chemical manipulations, and utilizing hand-made instruments.
Each artist has come up with their own media and methods to underline the importance of the creative process. The artistic output of this exhibition represents a singular alchemical experiment. Seamlessly weaving a tapestry of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, psychology, and philosophy into the artists’ personal thoughts, attitudes, and relationships, a profound collective narrative emerges from these intricate art pieces.
This is photography today!
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
14.01.2024

THE HERMIT OF RILA

A musical poem adapted for children
/Music by Father Kiril Popov/
Premiere
Chamber hall
It is performed in Bulgarian
Music and Dance Events
14.01.2024

ANNA KARENINA

Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
14.01.2024

MAHLER, STRAUSS, PROKOFIEV

Chamber Hall
Soloist/s
Ludmil Angelov
Ensemble
Classic Art
Program
Franz Strauss - Nocturno Op.7 for Horn and Piano
Gustav Mahler - Piano Quartet
Richard Strauss - "Andante" for Horn & Piano
Sergei Prokofiev - Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op.34 for Clarinet, Two Violins, Viola, Cello and Piano
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
16.01.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
17.01.2024

St. Anthony the Great

St. Anthony the Great is one of the two most famous representatives of monasticism in the East. He practiced an ascetic life and was one of the founders of monasticism. In Bulgaria, this day is also known as Lelinden and people celebrate the prevention of diseases during the winter months. According to traditions, on this day women do not spin, knit, or cook beans or lentils so as not to anger the diseases. Specially kneaded loaves of bread, coated with treacle, are prepared and given to close relatives and neighbors so that they are healthy. On this date Andon, Antoinette, Anton, Antonia, Donka, Donko, Doncho, Tony, etc. celebrate their name day.
Religious Holidays
17.01.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
18.01.2024
Religious Holidays
18.01.2024

SVETLIN ROUSSEV CONDUCTS SVETLIN ROUSSEV

Conductor
Svetlin Roussev
Soloist/s
Svetlin Roussev
Ensemble
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Program
Franz Schubert - Rondo for Violin and Strings in A major, D 438
Johann Sebastian Bach - Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1 in A minor, BWV 1041
Johann Sebastian Bach - Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - String Sextet "Souvenir de Florence"
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
19.01.2024

WINNIE THE POOH

Musical by Andrey Drenikov
Chamber hall
It is performed in Bulgarian
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
20.01.2024
Music and Dance Events
20.01.2024

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

Musical fairy-tale by Alexander Vladigerov
Chamber hall
Music and Dance Events
20.01.2024

FANTASIES & LEGENDS

Soloist/s
Nadejda Tzanova
Peter Makedonski
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
18.10.2023 - 21.01.2024

JAPANESE UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK PRINTS IN BULGARIAN COLLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500
In this exhibition, the main themes of Japanese engravings in all the collections in Bulgaria are on display together for the first time: those of the National Gallery, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the art galleries in Sliven and Silistra, and Plovdiv City Art Gallery. The subjects include beautiful women and actors, images of birds and flowers, and popular compositions dedicated to famous places and routes.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints captured the urban culture of the Edo period (1603–1868), documenting Japan’s opening to the world during the Meiji era (1868–1912) and paving their way to European markets. They influenced the development of art and culture in Europe, especially among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. These engravings also aroused interest in Bulgaria where, in several museum collections, which began to take shape around the mid-20th century, some of the most popular themes were represented. Ukiyo-e is a traditional genre of Japanese art, literally translated as ‘pictures of the floating (transient/earthly) world’: their new content depicted a society devoted to pleasure, and they could be viewed as images illustrating everyday life.
In addition to the exhibition (included in the 2023 programme of the 34th edition of the Days of Japanese Culture) lectures, specialised tours and workshops will be held, aimed mainly at children and young people. From 22 November to 17 December 2023, prints from the collection of the National Gallery will be exhibited at the Boris Denev Art Gallery in Veliko Tarnovo.
The event was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the assistance of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS), and the galleries in Plovdiv, Silistra and Sliven.
Curator: Zlatka Dimitrova
Assistant curator: Maria Marinova
Consultants: Prof. Junichi Okubo, National Museum of Japanese History; and Chief Assistant Professor Stella Zhivkova, PhD, St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
21.01.2024

CINDERELLA

Ballet-fairy-tale by Sergei Prokofieff
Chamber hall
Music and Dance Events
21.01.2024
Music and Dance Events
21.01.2024

SHEGOBISHKO ON THE ISLAND OF MIRACLES

Musical Georgi Kostov
Duration: 60 minutes
Chamber hall
Performed in Bulgarian
Music and Dance Events
21.01.2024

A MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA

Chamber concert
Chamber hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.10.2023 - 22.01.2024

PINK CLOUD

Kvadrat 500
The National Gallery once again stands for the cause of the Emprove Foundation. Rada Yakova presents 12 rounded objects of steel mesh in delicate shades of pink, which combine a sense of solidity with a soft airiness, corresponding to the feminine essence. The Foundation’s concept recognises the power—visible and invisible—that generates wind in the sails, unites and safeguards. The installation also embodies support in society and the ability to back each other up in the turbulent storms of life.
The installation takes a new path after a summer full of events and opens up an opportunity for dialogue on socially significant issues. It successfully fulfilled its function as a rallying point for hundreds of Sofia Summer Fest visitors to connect with the Emprove cause, watching over the sheltered pink space for support and meetings with the Foundation team.
The artist remarks: ‘A Pink Cloud is always watching over us, concealing its unsuspected capability. It is that hidden power that unites women, bringing a sense of support and protection.’
The opening at Kvadrat 500 will be complemented by an immersive experience in a dedicated room. There, guests will be able to feel the diversity of delicate female power through scores of portraits created by Rada Yakova during three months spent beneath the ‘shadow’ of the cloud. The Sensory Theatre will ensure complete immersion in them with its audio-journey, which took the women in the portraits into a meditative state during their sessions with the artist.
RADA YAKOVA is an artist whose creative life is shared between Sofia and The Hague. In 2001, she moved to Vienna, where she studied at one of the best art universities in Europe, Die Angewandte. Her diploma won her a creativity award from Scholz & Friends, Zürich, in 2009. Since then, she has taken up artistic performance as her professional path. Her works have been shown in galleries in Prague, Amsterdam, The Hague, New York, Vienna, and London and, in 2019, her RedRoom installation was included in an exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Drawing has always been her passion and, over the last three years, she has discovered novel forms of artistic expression, the latest example being the Pink Cloud installation in support of the Emprove Foundation. She describes herself as an artist who, through art, seeks for, reflects on, and protects women. Her style is bright and memorable, exactly like Rada Yakova herself.
The EMPROVE FOUNDATION mission is to raise awareness of the earliest signs of violence in relationships, to change public attitudes, and to support women and girls who have experienced violence. Its activities include public campaigns for early prevention and awareness, free psychological and legal support for female survivors of violence, coaching, events, trainings, group therapy sessions, art initiatives, as well as building the Women Survivors community, which supports other women on their way to change and a new life.
This exhibition was made possible through the kind hospitality of Kvadrat 500 and the support of the Bulgarian Fund for Women, Sofia Municipality, JC Decaux.
Exhibitions
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
24.01.2024

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE

Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – version adapted for children
Runnig time: 01:00
Chamber hall
Performed in Bulgarian.
Music and Dance Events
24.01.2024

SOFIA SOLOISTS – FIRST CONCERT

Bulgaria Concert Hall
Konstantin Dobroikov
Soloist/s
Plamena Mangova
Ensemble
Sofia Soloists Chamber Orchestra
Program
Alfred Schnittke - Concerto for piano and string orchestra (1979)
Ludwig van Beethoven - String Quartet Op.130/133
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
25.01.2024

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE

Opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – version adapted for children
Runnig time: 01:00
Chamber hall
Performed in Bulgarian.
Music and Dance Events
25.01.2024

AIDA

Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Duration - 3:00 with one intermission
Main Hall
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
25.01.2024

STEPHEN KOVACHEVICH & NAYDEN TODOROV

Conductor
Nayden Todorov
Soloist/s
Stephen Kovacevich
Ensemble
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Program
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No.5 in C Minor, Op.67
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.24
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
26.01.2024 - 24.03.2024

KOLIO KARAMFILOV | Beyond the Man

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
The exhibition comprises Kolio Karamfilov’s previously unshown, or little-known, works, selected by curator Nadezhda Dzhakova and collated with the assistance of his son Rosen Karamfilov and gallerist Radost Kotseva. Most prominent in the selection was the recurring motif of man, which in Kolyo Karamfilov’s case was taken beyond the usual imagery, transforming it into a symbol, a signature of the artist and his oeuvre. ‘Kolio K. changed the world with his every exhibition while he was with us here on earth. As he himself repeatedly said—to tell us a story, for a little while. Until the next story he was to tell us, again for a little while. The stories did not end with his climbing the stairway to heaven. On the contrary. The responsibility for telling them, however, rests with all of us who love him with every fibre of our being, to the very edge of infinity. We continue to share with admirers of high art the stories that have remained forever in his paintings, in his drawings, in every stroke and every millimetre of essence. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot tell them in his way. But we try to do it the way he would want it. And he would want the audience to find it infinitely interesting. The exhibition, ‘Beyond the Man’, is exactly that: one of Kolio K.’s stories that we have never told before. And which we shall tell with bated breath. I thank everyone who is a part of it: all the organisers, all art collectors; all those who did this for a Bulgarian genius. He deserves it.’ (Rosen Karamfilov) Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
26.01.2024

AIDA

Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Duration - 3:00 with one intermission
Main Hall
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
26.01.2024

BEETHOVEN – LETTER TO GOD

Soloist/s
Ivan Penchev
Ensemble
Quarto Quartet
Program
Ludwig van Beethoven - Romance for Violin and Orchestra No.2, in F major, Op. 50
Ludwig van Beethoven - Chamber Symphony
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
26.01.2024 - 24.03.2024

KOLIO KARAMFILOV | Beyond the Man

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
The exhibition comprises Kolio Karamfilov’s previously unshown, or little-known, works, selected by curator Nadezhda Dzhakova and collated with the assistance of his son Rosen Karamfilov and gallerist Radost Kotseva. Most prominent in the selection was the recurring motif of man, which in Kolyo Karamfilov’s case was taken beyond the usual imagery, transforming it into a symbol, a signature of the artist and his oeuvre. ‘Kolio K. changed the world with his every exhibition while he was with us here on earth. As he himself repeatedly said—to tell us a story, for a little while. Until the next story he was to tell us, again for a little while. The stories did not end with his climbing the stairway to heaven. On the contrary. The responsibility for telling them, however, rests with all of us who love him with every fibre of our being, to the very edge of infinity. We continue to share with admirers of high art the stories that have remained forever in his paintings, in his drawings, in every stroke and every millimetre of essence. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot tell them in his way. But we try to do it the way he would want it. And he would want the audience to find it infinitely interesting. The exhibition, ‘Beyond the Man’, is exactly that: one of Kolio K.’s stories that we have never told before. And which we shall tell with bated breath. I thank everyone who is a part of it: all the organisers, all art collectors; all those who did this for a Bulgarian genius. He deserves it.’ (Rosen Karamfilov) Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
27.01.2024
Music and Dance Events
27.01.2024

THE THREE FAIRIES AND THE SLEEPING BEAUTY

musical by Dimitar Kostantsaliev
Chamber hall
Music and Dance Events
27.01.2024

AIDA

Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Duration - 3:00 with one intermission
Main Hall
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
27.01.2024

MOZART’S BIRTHDAY

Chamber Hall
Soloist/s
Dimitar Ivanov
Yavor Dobrev
Viktor Teodosiev
Dimitris Kitsos
Mihail Mihaylov
Ensemble
Classic Art
Program
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Quartet in F dur, K.370
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Sonata for Violoncello & Double Bass K 292
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Divertimento in D major, KV. 521
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Concerto for Horn and Orchestra No.1 in D major, KV 412
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
26.01.2024 - 24.03.2024

KOLIO KARAMFILOV | Beyond the Man

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
The exhibition comprises Kolio Karamfilov’s previously unshown, or little-known, works, selected by curator Nadezhda Dzhakova and collated with the assistance of his son Rosen Karamfilov and gallerist Radost Kotseva. Most prominent in the selection was the recurring motif of man, which in Kolyo Karamfilov’s case was taken beyond the usual imagery, transforming it into a symbol, a signature of the artist and his oeuvre. ‘Kolio K. changed the world with his every exhibition while he was with us here on earth. As he himself repeatedly said—to tell us a story, for a little while. Until the next story he was to tell us, again for a little while. The stories did not end with his climbing the stairway to heaven. On the contrary. The responsibility for telling them, however, rests with all of us who love him with every fibre of our being, to the very edge of infinity. We continue to share with admirers of high art the stories that have remained forever in his paintings, in his drawings, in every stroke and every millimetre of essence. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot tell them in his way. But we try to do it the way he would want it. And he would want the audience to find it infinitely interesting. The exhibition, ‘Beyond the Man’, is exactly that: one of Kolio K.’s stories that we have never told before. And which we shall tell with bated breath. I thank everyone who is a part of it: all the organisers, all art collectors; all those who did this for a Bulgarian genius. He deserves it.’ (Rosen Karamfilov) Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
28.01.2024

THE THREE PIGGIES

Musical by Alexandar Raichev
Chamber hall
Music and Dance Events
28.01.2024

AIDA

Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Duration - 3:00 with one intermission
Main Hall
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
28.01.2024

SIR BRYN TERFEL & MAESTRO NAYDEN TODOROV

Conductor
Nayden Todorov
Soloist/s
Sir Bryn Terfel
Mila Mihova
Ensemble
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
26.01.2024 - 24.03.2024

KOLIO KARAMFILOV | Beyond the Man

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
The exhibition comprises Kolio Karamfilov’s previously unshown, or little-known, works, selected by curator Nadezhda Dzhakova and collated with the assistance of his son Rosen Karamfilov and gallerist Radost Kotseva. Most prominent in the selection was the recurring motif of man, which in Kolyo Karamfilov’s case was taken beyond the usual imagery, transforming it into a symbol, a signature of the artist and his oeuvre. ‘Kolio K. changed the world with his every exhibition while he was with us here on earth. As he himself repeatedly said—to tell us a story, for a little while. Until the next story he was to tell us, again for a little while. The stories did not end with his climbing the stairway to heaven. On the contrary. The responsibility for telling them, however, rests with all of us who love him with every fibre of our being, to the very edge of infinity. We continue to share with admirers of high art the stories that have remained forever in his paintings, in his drawings, in every stroke and every millimetre of essence. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot tell them in his way. But we try to do it the way he would want it. And he would want the audience to find it infinitely interesting. The exhibition, ‘Beyond the Man’, is exactly that: one of Kolio K.’s stories that we have never told before. And which we shall tell with bated breath. I thank everyone who is a part of it: all the organisers, all art collectors; all those who did this for a Bulgarian genius. He deserves it.’ (Rosen Karamfilov) Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
26.01.2024 - 24.03.2024

KOLIO KARAMFILOV | Beyond the Man

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
The exhibition comprises Kolio Karamfilov’s previously unshown, or little-known, works, selected by curator Nadezhda Dzhakova and collated with the assistance of his son Rosen Karamfilov and gallerist Radost Kotseva. Most prominent in the selection was the recurring motif of man, which in Kolyo Karamfilov’s case was taken beyond the usual imagery, transforming it into a symbol, a signature of the artist and his oeuvre. ‘Kolio K. changed the world with his every exhibition while he was with us here on earth. As he himself repeatedly said—to tell us a story, for a little while. Until the next story he was to tell us, again for a little while. The stories did not end with his climbing the stairway to heaven. On the contrary. The responsibility for telling them, however, rests with all of us who love him with every fibre of our being, to the very edge of infinity. We continue to share with admirers of high art the stories that have remained forever in his paintings, in his drawings, in every stroke and every millimetre of essence. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot tell them in his way. But we try to do it the way he would want it. And he would want the audience to find it infinitely interesting. The exhibition, ‘Beyond the Man’, is exactly that: one of Kolio K.’s stories that we have never told before. And which we shall tell with bated breath. I thank everyone who is a part of it: all the organisers, all art collectors; all those who did this for a Bulgarian genius. He deserves it.’ (Rosen Karamfilov) Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
Exhibitions
30.01.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
09.01.2024 - 07.04.2024

CHRISTO – ART AND COLORS | Deconstruction of the Academic Knowledge

Kvadrat 500, Hall 27
In 2012, Vladimir Tchimov and his wife donated to the then National Gallery for Foreign Art works by Christo Yavacheff – Christo (1935 – 2020) from his student years at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia. These works have been exhibited in hall 27 of Kvadrat 500 since its opening. Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Tchimov makes a new donation, provoked by a personal interpretation of projects that outline Christo’s international creative success.
In a chamber temporary exhibition in hall 27, Mr. Tchimov presents his thesis in relation to the works “On the Market” and “Male Head”.
Exhibitions
02.11.2023 - 31.03.2024

FROM THE NEWSPAPER TO THE MUSEUM | Bulgarian Cartoons, 1944–1989

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition presents some 150 Bulgarian cartoons from the collection of the National Gallery. The artists include Iliya Beshkov, Alexander Zhendov, Boris Angelushev, Stoyan Venev, Boris Dimovski, Donyo Donev, Asen Grozev, Georgi Anastasov, Tsvetan Tsekov – Karandash, Georgi Chaushov, and Stefan Despodov.
This is an attempt to reconstruct the cartoon genre under the conditions of the totalitarian system of management of the political, social, and cultural life in Bulgaria between 1944 and 1989.
The cartoon’s place was in the newspaper. The majority of the exhibited cartoons had appeared on the pages of the Shturmovak [Storm Trooper] weekly and the Chasovoy [Sentry] front-line paper—a specialised publication for the Bulgarian army fighting the Nazis on the battlefronts of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria. In 1946, the first issue of the weekly humorous newspaper, Starshel [Hornet], came out, its title having since become a byword for, and the main tribune of, Bulgarian cartoon art.
The comic, as an aesthetic and ethical category, has long since become a powerful tool for influence, propaganda, and the imposition of ideas and ideologies. Totalitarian societies are adept at exploiting and turning into a weapon this unique ability of the human being—to laugh. Under the conditions of the Cold War, the main subject of satire was the political and economic doctrine of the Western world.
Themes on the politics of the hegemonic Party were absolutely taboo. The State was subjected to criticism down to the lowest administrative levels—the clerks working in public services. Negative phenomena—bureaucracy, poor customer service, inefficiency and low quality of production, and the formal attitude to work—became the target of cartoonists.
From today’s point of view, it is difficult to understand their meaning or adjust to their frequency without being familiar with the history and essence of the times in which they were created. And conversely—it is the very art of these cartoons that gives us an opportunity to reconstruct the not-so-distant past, to feel the visible and invisible dividing lines between these two worlds and, most importantly, to define for ourselves the psychogram of an epoch.
Exhibitions
26.01.2024 - 24.03.2024

KOLIO KARAMFILOV | Beyond the Man

Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art
The exhibition comprises Kolio Karamfilov’s previously unshown, or little-known, works, selected by curator Nadezhda Dzhakova and collated with the assistance of his son Rosen Karamfilov and gallerist Radost Kotseva. Most prominent in the selection was the recurring motif of man, which in Kolyo Karamfilov’s case was taken beyond the usual imagery, transforming it into a symbol, a signature of the artist and his oeuvre. ‘Kolio K. changed the world with his every exhibition while he was with us here on earth. As he himself repeatedly said—to tell us a story, for a little while. Until the next story he was to tell us, again for a little while. The stories did not end with his climbing the stairway to heaven. On the contrary. The responsibility for telling them, however, rests with all of us who love him with every fibre of our being, to the very edge of infinity. We continue to share with admirers of high art the stories that have remained forever in his paintings, in his drawings, in every stroke and every millimetre of essence. Yes, it is a fact that we cannot tell them in his way. But we try to do it the way he would want it. And he would want the audience to find it infinitely interesting. The exhibition, ‘Beyond the Man’, is exactly that: one of Kolio K.’s stories that we have never told before. And which we shall tell with bated breath. I thank everyone who is a part of it: all the organisers, all art collectors; all those who did this for a Bulgarian genius. He deserves it.’ (Rosen Karamfilov) Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.
Exhibitions
23.11.2023 - 10.03.2024

MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011) | Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva
Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.
Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival.
Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.
This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).
In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical. The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of: The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.
Exhibitions
14.12.2023 - 11.02.2024

MARIA NALBANTOVA | Paradise Marsh

The exhibition Paradise Marsh draws us into the territory of the marshland as an artistic metaphor, but also as an ecosystem where all its inhabitants are continuously connected, maintaining or changing the state of the wetland environment and its future.
Maria Nalbantova was inspired by the artistic residency program at the Dragoman Marsh, with the WaterLands project, for which she had been selected in 2023. She explored the intertwined existence of the variety of biological species inhabiting this protected area and questions our established perception of the concept of wetlands, introducing us literally and figuratively to an unexpected and unfamiliar matter. A marsh that synthesises, generates and reflects, breathes and multiplies, clogs, entrains and rots.
With a pronounced sensitivity to spaces, shaped by sculptural physicality and a sense of purity, tranquillity, harmony, balance and experiment, Nalbantova confronts social reality and hints at our attitude towards the surrounding environment and the care and responsibility we bear by existing.
The three sculptural objects in the centre of the gallery are composed of reeds, carefully harvested and collected by the artist when the ecosystem of the Dragoman Marsh allows such actions. Subsequently, the plant matter was subjected to a labour-intensive treatment and complex organic processes, until it reaches this transparent and mysterious bio matter resembling the skin of embryos that seem about to develop and become living creatures. As if in opposition to the 4th-century Roman tomb permanently displayed in the chamber, or as its natural extension: for where there is death, there has been and will continue to be life. The light and sound emanating from these spatial objects form another ‘living’ element of the organic matter created by the artist. Their presence challenges our sensitivity to the exhibition environment and raises the question: what is it that we are looking at?
‘Some Aspects of Unsteady Walking’, a work shown in the smaller gallery, accelerates our orientation in the marsh and alludes to natural everyday life, when man is absent. The boots in which the video installation Is projected were used by the artist during her field research, and the video material itself is a sample of the photo traps set by the researchers of the Dragoman Marsh. Although she does not claim to be an eco-activist, Maria Nalbantova constantly explores the topic of ecological balance, so important to our common life, and presents a critical look at the present and the opportunities that open up before us with our every action or inaction.
For we are all floundering together in the marsh.
Curator: Martina Yordanova
The Paradise Marsh exhibition was realized thanks to: Georgi Rayzhekov and Stefan Domuzov: production BALKANI Wildlife Society, WWF Bulgaria, WaterLANDS Artist Residency ProgrammeAntoni Rayzhekov: sound and light design Simeon Yanchev, Robotev: hardware The Collective, Antonia Dimitrova and Business Park Open Atelier ProgramPetar Rayzhekov and Studio Orpheus
Exhibitions
30.06.2023 - 31.05.2024

Mihaela Mihailova – MISHA MAR PORTRAIT OF THE MOON IN BLACK

Kvadrat 500
The fourth edition of ‘The Wall’, the National Gallery’s project launched in 2020, welcomes artist Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar to the Kvadrat 500 Atrium. At one of the areas designated for contemporary art and located at the heart of Kvadrat 500—home of the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition—there rises a monumental structure titled ‘The Wall’. The idea of creating this facility was largely prompted by the need to present mural and graffiti artists in the gallery. After showing the works of Nikolay Petrov GLOW (2020), Alexi Ivanov (2021) and BILOS (2022), the project now introduces Mihaela Mihaylova – Misha Mar. She presents ‘Portrait of the Moon in Black’, a composition representing the eight phases of the Moon in black and white, painted over more than a month. As a true selenophile, Mihaela examines the theme in detail and conceives a particular affection for the subject of her studies—marks visible on the surface of the exquisite portrait she creates.
‘My Moon,
‘My faithful friend in the night, this is a love letter to You, painted with the calligraphy of my soul on Your surface. All the words I never told You, fixed upon the layers of our unspoken secrets that glow with the reflected light of the burning desire of the day.
‘This is for You…’
Misha Mar
The eight faces of the Moon—the full moon cycle—‘rises’ on ‘The Wall’ in the Sculpture Garden of Kvadrat 500, to the accompaniment of MUSICAL STATUES. Guests will be able to enjoy special summer cocktails with MALFY GIN.
The project is made possible through the support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
About the artist In 2008, Mihaela Mihaylova graduated in Iconography from the Tsanko Lavrenov National Secondary School in Plovdiv. Later, she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting and, in 2014, she graduated from the Photography Master’s Programme at the National Academy of Arts. The artist has held several solo exhibitions and been included in many group exhibitions. In 2023, she presented to the public her first photo book, ‘MAR’, with black-and-white photographs depicting the parallel worlds ‘between the mountain and the sea, between birds and firebugs.’
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Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Main Hall
Music and Dance Events
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WITH BEETHOVEN’S UNIVERSE – FIRST CONCERT

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Soloist/s
Angel Stankov
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