Through the Collection of National Gallery in Bulgaria
Welcome to the National Gallery in Sofia.
In 1914, Věšín completed his masterpiece, which, with the power of its emotional intensity and with his masterful colouring, became the brightest example of the genre in Modern Bulgarian art. Veshin’s freedom of painting, his rich palette and energetic brush, paved the way of modern painting for the next generation of Bulgarian artists.
In the 1890s, the first Bulgarians who had studied sculpture in Munich, Marin Vasilev and Zheko Spiridonov, actively joined in the artistic life of the country. Along with realistic portraits of political and cultural figures, they created works that expanded the thematic and genre range of Bulgarian sculpture.These first examples of sculpture, were organically related to the academic realism widespread in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century. In Bulgaria, it is through descriptive realism of the form that art became related to the European art practice of the nineteenth century.
Along with landscape, portraiture became another principal genre of Bulgarian ‘Impressionistic’ painting. The oeuvre of Elena Karamihailova and Nikola Marinov outlined the main trends in this sphere, their attention being directed to the emotional state of the model and its spiritual closeness to the artist.
Nikola Marinov holds a special place in the history of Bulgarian art. He created artworks that subdue with their elegance of tones and undertints, skilfully combined with the light and air and, moreover, categorical as a plastic construction. Each of his portraits and every composition, regardless of form, theme, or time of creation, are a world complete in itself, woven from moods and saturated with emotions (‘Portrait of the Artist’s Wife Frederica”, circa 1914).
Elena Karamihailova, the first female Bulgarian artist with an academic art education, painted a series of women’s portraits and compositions with female figures in a casual, intimate setting. Her art is characterised by a marked finesse and sophistication. Her images are immersed in a special vibrating milieu, built with a brush, sometimes thick and covering, sometimes delicate to the point of transparency, and a colour scheme muted yet still rich in shades of silvery grey.
Alongside the painters, Andrey Nikolov, the great master of marble sculpture, also began his creative career towards the end of the first decade of the 20th c. He combined the academic trend in sculpture with the psychological state of the images and the nuanced modelling of forms enveloped in a kind of ‘sfumato’.
One of the great figures, Vladimir Dimitrov–Maystora, developed his mature work at that very time. Through an expressive artistic language built on vibrant juxtapositions of colour, in the conditionality of the depicted visible, the artist conveyed his personal philosophy. Entirely concentrated on native themes, he revealed the world of the village through the idealised images of common people. In them, he saw the essence of the Bulgarian spirit.
One of the main modern trends in Bulgarian art of the 1930s was post-Cézannisme. The constructively built forms and pure architectonics characterize the compositions, enhanced through the contrast of light areas and dark tones. The paintings of Kiril Tsonev are among the most prominent examples of this tendency. In the early 1930s, he travelled to Mexico and Cuba and became acquainted with the monumental works of Mexican artists José Orozco, David Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera. It was then that he painted ‘Alley in a Tropical Park’ (1932), one of his most famous landscapes.
Jules Pascin was a Bulgarian-born French Expressionist painter. Known under the pseudonym of the “Prince of Montparnasse”, he painted fragile petites filles, erotic scenes, or models in casual poses. He regularly exhibited prints and drawings in various important Parisian salons, including the Salon des Indépendants and satellite exhibitions of the Berlin Secession.
The artistic nature of the two brothers Nikolay and Ivan Abrashevi brought them at the beginning of the 1920s in Europe, then in Brazil and finally in the United States. Nikolay Abrashev’s work was influenced by post-war tendencies in art, transforming individual elements of Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism and Futurism. While in Brazil, he actively participated in the formation of Brazilian modernist movement under the pseudonym Nicola de Garo. In the United States the Abrashev brothers settled in New York. In 1927 Nikolay and his brother established the Abrashev School of Art, which existed until their demise.