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Monday 19 August 2024
19 August 2024 - 25 August 2024
July 2024
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
01.08.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Duration 3:00 Intermission 1
Pancharevo Lake
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
02.08.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Duration 3:00 Intermission 1
Pancharevo Lake
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
02.08.2024

TOSCA

Opera by Giacomo Puccini
Duration - 2:30 with intermission
"Opera on the peaks" - Belogradchik Open stage in front of Belogradchik rocks, Belogradchik
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
03.08.2024

MADAMA BUTTERFLY

Opera by Giacomo Puccini
Duration 3:00 Intermission 1
"Opera on the peaks" - Belogradchik Open stage in front of Belogradchik rocks, Belogradchik
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
03.08.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Duration 3:00 Intermission 1
Pancharevo Lake
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
04.08.2024

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Musical - Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II
Duration 3:00 Intermission 1
Pancharevo Lake
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles
Music and Dance Events
04.08.2024

TURANDOT

Opera by Giacomo Puccini
Duration 2:40 Intermission 2
"Opera on the peaks" - Belogradchik Open stage in front of Belogradchik rocks, Belogradchik
It is performed in Italian, with Bulgarian and English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
06.08.2024
Religious Holidays
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
07.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
08.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
09.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
09.08.2024

MEDEA

Opera by Luigi Cherubini
Duration 2:30 Intermission 1
"Opera on the peaks" - Belogradchik Open stage in front of Belogradchik rocks, Belogradchik
Performed in italian, with bulgarian and english subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
10.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
10.08.2024

MEDEA

Opera by Luigi Cherubini
Duration 2:30 Intermission 1
"Opera on the peaks" - Belogradchik Open stage in front of Belogradchik rocks, Belogradchik
Performed in italian, with bulgarian and english subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
11.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
11.08.2024

MEDEA

Opera by Luigi Cherubini
Duration 2:30 Intermission 1
"Opera on the peaks" - Belogradchik Open stage in front of Belogradchik rocks, Belogradchik
Performed in italian, with bulgarian and english subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.08.2024
Religious Holidays
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
17.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
18.08.2024

MAMMA MIA!

Musical by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Director Plamen Kartaloff
Duration 3:00 with 1 intermission
Pancharevo Lake Pancharevo Lake / next to Sredets National Rowing Base, Pancharevo Quarter, 9 Samokovsko Shosse Blvd.
Performed in Bulgarian, with English subtitles.
Music and Dance Events
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
29.08.2024
Religious Holidays
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

The Palace
This retrospective exhibition of Vasil Chakarov (1934–2018), with works provided by his heirs, presents the artist through the genres of painting, graphics and drawing, by emphasising leading cycles in his oeuvre. Despite his long and extensive biography, with his works displayed in many General Art Exhibitions of the Union of Bulgarian Artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his name is not known to the broader public.
The artist was one of few who devoted their life entirely to art. A stranger to vanity, he lived and worked in Samokov. Lacking an academic education, but with an innate talent, exceptional erudition and excellent plastic culture, he was naturally involved in the leading trends of the late 20th century in Bulgaria. The rediscovery of Vasil Chakarov occurred in the 1990s. His solo exhibition at the Sofia City Art Gallery in 1994, where his aquarelles were displayed together for the first time, revealed to the public a great master of the watercolour landscape, already known to the art critics of the time.
Somehow left on the fringes of the noisy artistic torrent but, from today’s point of view, deserving to be more widely popularised, Vasil Chakarov still awaits his due professional appraisal. The current exhibition, composed of the artist’s legacy held by his family, is the finale of a long-standing project of a series of exhibitions in the Bulgarian capital and around the country.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
16.07.2024 - 20.10.2024

BISTRA LECHEVALIER | RETROSPECTIVE

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Yana Bratanova
The National Gallery continues its mission and policy of introducing the public to artists of Bulgarian origin who have won professional recognition beyond the country’s borders.
Bistra Lechevalier is one of a few contemporary conceptual artists who have risen to international prominence. This retrospective exhibition presents her art in Bulgaria for the first time.
For Bistra Lechevalier, freedom is a prime code. Her early compositions from the 1970s—‘Flight of Birds’ (1964), the iconic Window Series (‘Blocked Window’, ‘Burned Window’, ‘White Window’) and ‘Injured Chairs’—are expressions of her overwhelming desire to be free. Everything she has created represents a powerful vehicle for flight beyond limitations.
The artist’s works are made of both natural and industrial materials. She combines gypsum with wood, straw and glass, lending them a particular exquisiteness. It is by skilfully handling paper, resin, caoutchouc, cast iron, lead, cast aluminium and bronze, polyester, neoprene rubber, mirrored surfaces, fabric, ropes, etc., that she realises her dreams and ideas. Possessing an innate ability to search for new forms, she transforms matter in smooth transitions from volume to flatness, and vice versa.
Iconic sculptures, objects, drawings and installations from Bistra Lechevalier’s studio and the Enseigne des Oudin Endowment Fund collection in Paris have now arrived at the National Gallery. The emblematic series include ‘After’ (2024), a large-scale installation, never shown before, and fully adapted to the spatial characteristics of the exhibition gallery. Its twenty sculptural forms, rising to a height of 2.5 metres, symbolise the future, that ‘new, bright beginning that always rises above the ruin’, about which the artist writes in her narrative, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The exhibition was made possible with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, the Culture Programme of Sofia Municipality, the French Institute in Bulgaria, and UniCredit Bulbank.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
16.04.2024 - 13.10.2024

FRANZ VON STUCK | Between Light and Darkness

Kvadrat 500
The exhibition ‘Franz von Stuck. Between Light and Darkness’ is the first presentation in Bulgaria of the famous German symbolist (1863 – 1928), popular among the general public in our country because of his work ‘Lucifer’ (1890) from the National Gallery’s collection, purchased by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria during his visit to Munich the following year. Now it is exhibited alongside twelve of the artist’s works from the collection of the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich (portraits, mythological and religious paintings, and related drawings and etchings) providing an overview of the artist’s oeuvre.
The two paintings that brought Stuck worldwide fame, the large-format ‘The Guardian of Paradise’ (1889), which is rarely shown outside Villa Stuck, and ‘Lucifer’ from our collection, will resume their dramatic dialogue, meeting again in Hall 24 of Kvadrat 500. In addition to witnessing the expressive clash between “light” and “darkness,” viewers have the opportunity to get acquainted with other famous works of the artist, e.g., ‘Prometheus,‘ ‘Samson and the Lion.’ The impressive canvas ‘The Sin’ became so popular that the artist executed several versions, including the one shown in the exhibition that he installed in the “Altar of the Artist” in his studio in Villa Stuck. The display allows re- experiencing Franz von Stuck’s iconic work ‘Lucifer’ in its original context, loaded with the semantic characteristic of the era in which it was created.
The exhibition design decisions address the aesthetics of Villa Stuck – Franz von Stuck’s greatest artistic project, which was later turned into a municipal museum, preserving a large part of the artist’s work. In Hall 24, the architects Kiril Ass and Nadya Korbut used a series of spatial and colour allusions to the Pompeian antique tradition that Stuck laid at the heart of his decorative solutions.
Franz von Stuck is one of the most famous representatives of the Symbolist movement in art worldwide and is among the founders of the Munich Secession, the predecessor of the one in Vienna. To this day, Symbolism remains among the most popular and attractive artistic phenomena of the late 19th century. This exhibition expands the Bulgarian public’s understanding of one of the most famous European artists from the decades between the 19th and 20th centuries. Through his works, one could become more familiar with the art of Symbolism, which greatly influenced Bulgarian modernists. Franz von Stuck was a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, and architect; among his students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich were world-renowned figures such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, and the Bulgarian Kocho (Konstantin) Garnev.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, published in partnership with the Museum Villa Stuck and containing an in-depth account of the works on display.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria and co-financed by the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation. Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition
Mariya Kodinova, assistant curator
Exhibitions
27.06.2024 - 08.09.2024

IV TOSHAIN | Trousseau for Mars

Kvadrat 500
Curator: Snejana Krasteva
The large-scale installation, ‘Trousseau’, is at the centre of artist Iv Toshain’s solo exhibition at the National Gallery. It was shown in the Rocca Paolina papal fortress in Perugia (Italy) earlier this year and will be displayed for the first time in Bulgaria—in Gallery 19 of Kvadrat 500, where an ancient tomb from the 4th century is housed. The title, ‘Trousseau for Mars’, where Mars is the God of War, reflects the Neoplatonic idea of conquering war through faith and love. The 5 x 4 metre work resembles a carpet ‘woven’ from 2,000 pieces of steel shaken. A few dozen are erected, like ‘soldiers’, perpendicularly to the other rows. United in a stylised and gleaming composition, the thousands of ninja stars look enticing and aesthetic from afar. From close-by, however, hand-sharpened blades are outlined: cutting knives reminiscent of crosses. The installation combines elements opposite in meaning—cold steel, traditionally associated with war and violence, and the cross as a symbol of faith. The artwork, with each star made entirely by hand, is a symbolic gift from the artist to Mars, the God of War, drawing attention to the raging armed conflicts around the world.
The exhibition includes two earlier videos depicting military parades: ‘Opposition’ (2012), and ‘Refugees’ (2018). Through them, it is possible to trace the issues that occupy Iv Toshain in a considerable proportion of her works.
The suggestive impact of the installation will be enhanced at the opening of the exhibition with a concert by the Yoan Kukuzel – the Angel-voiced Chamber ensemble, which will perform Byzantine compositions and Eastern Orthodox troparia as symbols of peace.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
20.06.2024 - 24.11.2024

LABOUR: When the Foundations Were Laid

Museum of Art from the Socialist Period
The exhibition focuses on one of the most significant themes in the art of Socialism—labour. Among the artists behind the paintings, sculptures, graphics and applied art works, names such as Iliya Petrov, Dechko Uzunov, Stoyan Sotirov, Nikola Tanev, Stoyan Venev, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, and Alexander Poplilov, stand out.
Both classic examples of Socialist Realism and unknown or previously unexhibited works are on display. In addition to their high artistic qualities, some of them represent authentic documents from one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in Bulgaria’s political history. Such is Nikola Tanev’s graphic series of the construction of the Lovech-Troyan Railway, the Kutsian mine, and the Republic colliery in Pernik, as well as graphic works by Pavel Valkov depicting the erection of the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia.
After the Second World War, a totalitarian model of governance was established in Bulgaria, with the Communist Party at the helm. Within a few years only, control had been imposed on all spheres of political, social and cultural life.
Art and culture began to perform propaganda functions. The new ‘proletarian’ or ‘Party’ art created its mythologems, among which—along with the ‘leader’ and the ‘hero’—the image of the worker was assigned a central place.
The Socialist world view made labour one of the principal ideologemes turning it into a rigid narrative and a tool for imposing its own power. It was labour itself that was the instrument, the means for transforming society and the moulding of the new man. The social demiurges remodelled this fundamental, age-old impulse and necessity of human beings to work to ensure their livelihood, into a glorified, almost sacral activity, standing on the loftiest pedestal of Socialist virtues.
The parade pathos of Socialist Realism dominated Bulgarian art from the late 1940s to the end of the 1950s, bequeathing classic examples of this artistic style and thematic engagement. In the subsequent decades of totalitarian rule, the interpretations and intonations of the expression of the theme would change; other motifs and novel imagery were to come, but these will be the subjects of the next editions of the ‘Labour’ exhibition.
Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
31.05.2024 - 01.09.2024

NEDKO SOLAKOV

The Palace
Nedko Solakov, who lives in Sofia, is one of the most renowned artists of his generation. He has an impressive professional biography with over 100 solo exhibitions in illustrious museums across Europe, America, and Asia. He has also had long-standing collaborations with prestigious international galleries and has participated in numerous international biennales such as Istanbul, Sydney, Venice, New Orleans, Tirana, Sharjah, Riga, Kathmandu, Moscow, Seville, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Thessaloniki, among others. Additionally, he has been part of group exhibitions curated by visionary curators.
Notably, he is the only artist living in Bulgaria who has represented the country at the Biennale di Venezia and has been also included three times in its main curatorial project.
In 2007, he received an “Honorable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition” at the 52nd Biennale. Nedko Solakov has also twice participated in the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition, Dokumenta in Kassel.
At the core of Nedko Solakov’s immense success is his art’s ability to resonate with a diverse spectrum of viewers. His stories resonate with all, from sophisticated curators to those who find themselves in museums by chance. His visual language is a dynamic ‘conversation’ between drawing, painting, objects, space, and almost always text – narrative, description, commentary, and word games. His stories themselves are a kind of encyclopedia of the present time – art and artists, nature in all its diversity, current politics, social issues, and the heroes of the day, all woven together by the author with a wealth of emotion and humor, often with self-irony.
The project “A Cornered Solo Show” began back in 2021, when the artist approached directors and chief curators of well-known museums with the request to provide him with an “insignificant” corner in their buildings – a corner that has never been used for exhibitions, but which the public has access to.
So far, three “corners” have been realized in major European museums: #1 at MUDAM – the Grand-Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg (2021), #2 at MAXXI – the National Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century in Rome (2022), and at the Belvedere in Vienna, which is hosting the “Cornered Solo Show #3 (with Charles Escher as my artistic conscience),” until June 19 this year.
All three exhibitions, united by an unusual, strange, previously unused corner space, tell completely different stories created specifically for their context. At the National Gallery, in such a previously unused “new,” albeit obvious and easily accessible space in the Palace, “A Cornered (Future) Solo Show #4” tells the imaginary story of a humble court painter and his friend, a tiny mouse, who are living under the staircase of the palace. Iaroslava Boubnova, curator of the exhibition.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency
Exhibitions
15.02.2024 - 13.09.2024

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova | PRESERVATION

Vera Nedkova House Museum
‘In the Home of Vera Nedkova’, the programme launched in 2019, continues to present contemporary artists in an atmosphere filled with a myriad memories and marked by the artist’s intellectual and creative presence. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova’s exhibition re-evaluates the significance and meaning of the times and memory of events and facts, refracted through the artist’s distinctive lens. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova conveys the memory and emotion of ‘Obsession’, an exhibition by ‘The 8th March’ group shown back in 1999 at the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, when the building was dilapidated, abandoned to the vagaries of time, with its fate still unclear. Through the installations, ‘Obsession—25 Years Later’ (2024), a 14-minute video, and ‘Testimony’ (1999), Lyahova takes us back to the pathos of the time. Based on the installation from that exhibition and works produced in 2019, she has created a small pencil drawing. Her attempt to rethink and superimpose a system of images and facts reveals a curiosity that the artist shares with the viewer.
The basis of the present exhibition is the opportunity for personal perusal of, and extensive research into, the issue of preserving the museum as an institution and, simultaneously, transferring memory. Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova sets out the idea of the transition and essence of the image, its presence in the domain of feelings, and the inherent associations evoked in the mind. Diana Draganova-Stier, exhibition curator
Exhibitions
06.06.2024 - 31.05.2025

The Wall Vol. 5: Filipina Stamenkova REFLECTIONS

Kvadrat 500 Atrium Entrance at 95, Vasil Levski Blvd.
Curator: Martin Kostashki
The fifth edition of the National Gallery project, ‘The Wall’, presents ‘Reflections’, a site-specific installation by artist Filipina Stamenkova.
The mirror is a unique object, and an aspect of a deeply personal experience within the space where we find ourselves. What we see changes as we move—much like the sequence of frames in a film, an experience based on the principle of anamorphosis.
The artist explains: ‘When visitors reach this wall, they see themselves reflected in the mirror and thus occupy a central place in the installation. In the context of architecture and exteriors, mirrors retain the magical ability to bend, distort, expand and transform images and, through them, our perception of those images and our relationship with the living space. A sometimes pleasant, sometimes surprising or even comforting, often strange and confusing experience, the act of capturing oneself in a reflective surface is so fundamental to our continued assessment. The mirrored surface is strangely passive, yet intrusive and energetic, not only because it reflects the environment and the people around but, because of the very nature of its reflective quality, it transforms the way we see the world that surrounds us.’
When viewers see themselves reflected in a work, art immediately inspires a pronounced interest and creates a magical fascination similar to that in the myth of Narcissus.
The scale of the mirrored sculptural installation expands the visual space of the Kvadrat 500 Atrium, adding another aspect to its entry into the inner life of the gallery—by changing it and creating a new space.
The installation was designed and built by Woood Makerspace, a shared workplace for people with ideas who are skilful with their hands, with tools, and who have an aptitude for engineering. A place for bold projects, design developments and creative workshops in ceramics and woodcarving, the atelier is well known for its production in Georgia, Morocco, South Africa, as well as throughout Europe. To this day, a condition for accepting a commission is that it be complex and require brainstorming and creativity. The Woood brand is also popular for its work with the fashion giant Louis Vuitton, for which it has produced various façade and interior installations for the brand’s boutiques in London, Paris, Tokyo, and other cities. In Bulgaria, Woood is widely known for a number of projects relating to urban causes: the Imp-Act Agency’s Christmas decoration, the hidden letters of the Reading Sofia Foundation, as well as for initiatives developing the capital’s tourist image of the, in partnership with Sofia Airport and soSofia.com, the independent platform for city symbols.
The project was made possible with the financial support of the Lachezar Tsotsorkov Foundation.
Media partner: BTA / Bulgarian News Agency.
Exhibitions
30.05.2024 - 08.09.2024

VASIL CHAKAROV – CHAK (1934–2018) 90th

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