1990 (1994), (set of three books in a paper case).
The bookwork focuses on the topic “Freedom/Oppression: Central European Artists in Response.” In 1989, when the Soviet Union lost control over the Eastern Bloc countries, in the Visual Art Research Studio of Arizona State University three Hungarian artists selected with the help of Artpool began to work on the project. Peter Forgács, György Galántai, and poet György Petri were invited to Arizona to collaborate with the staff of the Studios, and as the fruit of their labors, the bookwork was produced in 1994 in 225 numbered and signed copies.
Since the 1960s, Ivan Manolov Petkov – Turkata, who was a civil engineer by profession began drawing as an amateur painter. His paintings are in the style of the dramatic and grotesque visions of the world typical of the works of Pieter Brueghel the Younger (also known as Hell Brueghel) and Hieronymus Bosch as well as of Paul Delvaux and Salvador Dalí. The varieties of surrealism were forbidden since they were particularly dangerous for the regime with the ridiculing of the utopias. At that time, the knowledge that Marxism was an utopia was already present in Bulgaria. The works of Ivan Petkov – Turkata were not allowed to participate in art exhibitions but in 1977 he managed to make an independent exhibition in the hall of Sofstroyproekt – the institute where he worked as an engineering technologist. The exhibition was closed down prematurely.
The State Security put him under surveillance by the code name "The Painter" and kept a record with "materials" – slanders with the purpose of "preventing, neutralizing the enemy activity". Investigated by the State Security, interrogated, eavesdropped and kept under observation, Ivan Petkov ceased making public statements against the regime and began expressing his opinion of the "people's power" through his paintings.
Despite the regular interrogations, denunciations and warnings, Ivan Petkov created influential paintings-metaphors in which his criticism of the regime was surreptitiously expressed. The paintings "Anthropological Excavator" (1981) and "Lobotomy" (1983) are one of his large-scale metaphors of socialism – socialism as antihuman, disabling regime (after lobotomy, man becomes mentally and emotionally paralysed).
Ivan Petkov used mainly oil-paints on canvas or wood but also water-colours and mixed techniques. He experimented with sculpture and decorative art. The painting "Anthropological Excavator" which was property of the painter's inheritors was part of Petkov's independent exhibition "Surrealism in Time of Socialism" (2015, curator Krasimir Iliev) at the Loran Gallery during which it was bought by Angel Gatev.
- Bulgaria, private ownership
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Nikola Tanev was a Bulgarian painter who studied at the Paris Academy of Decorative Art. Tanev had 28 independent exhibitions in Bulgaria and 27 exhibitions in various European countries: Berlin, Innsbruck, Mannheim, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Rome, Milano, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Malmö, Warsaw, Prague, Brno, Budapest, Bucharest, Belgrade, Zagreb, Split. He was among the founding members of the Native Art Society. There is no evidence that he was involved in political activities and party and political struggles before 1944. He was not a member of any political party and organization. His elder brother Stefan Tanev (March 15, 1888 – 1952) who was also non-party related was a long-time editor-in-chief of the Utro [Morning] Newspaper (1911 – 1944).
Both brothers were arrested in September 1944 by the so-called "people's democratic power". Stefan Tanev was arrested on September 13, 1944 and sentenced by the so-called People's Court to life imprisonment. In 1952, he died in prison under obscure circumstances. Nikola Tanev was arrested on September 26, 1944 and spent six months in the Central Prison and various buildings adapted for prisons for "political criminals". The intellectuals prevailed among the criminals; there were many painters arrested: Rayko Aleksiev, Aleksandar Bozhinov, Boris Denev, Konstantin Shtarkelov, Aleksandar Dobrinov. After September 9, 1944, the authorities used as a reason for repressions the works of the painters and the reports against them. A joke of the painter Aleksandar Bozhinov from the time he was in jail is preserved: "It is an honour and pleasure to fall among such an intellectual elite! No serious intelligentsia left outside." Tanev as well as the other painters continued their work in the prison; they drew on wrapping paper, on sheets of paper from grocer's books, on accounting forms etc. There are numerous prison sketches, portraits and drawings of the interior of the cells preserved which are of great documentary value.
Nikola Tanev was released from prison in April 1945 with the explanation that he had been imprisoned by mistake. In this period, the painters were openly given propagandist assignments: to approve through their art the "activities of the people's power" and to contribute to the building of socialism. "The period from 1944/1945 to 1955 was extremely important for the development of communism – the socialist realism got its way and the accusations of "formalism" intensified. The "pure landscape" was not in position to solve such tasks thus it was declared unimportant. In documents from the sessions of the art juries one could see the arguments for the rejection of paintings of Nikola Tanev. For example: "The landscape is too relative... This is not an artistic work. I am against its acceptance." (with reference to his painting "Slaveykov Square").
Experiencing the sanctions of the authorities, in order to survive, N. Tanev deliberately decided to take part with his art in the process. However, the differences in relation to Tanev's previous landscapes are significant: the sunny multicolouredness and the jubilant feeling were replaced by distressing autumn and winter pictures; heavy and leaden sky; drizzly; denuded trees; small grey figures. Grey-brown monochromy oppresses everything. A bright example are the miner's compositions of Nikola Tanev. Praised by the state art critique who saw in them a "new stage in his creative work" that approved the "building of socialism" (Божков 1956: 22), these paintings of Tanev show the dark conditions of work in the mines near the town of Pernik which functioned as forced labour places.
In 1949, Nikola Tanev had an apoplectic stroke and two years later – a myocardial infarction. Semi-paralysed, in 1955 he was awarded "honoured painter", a title related to small monthly subsidy which enabled him to take treatments. Nikola Tanev died in 1962.
After the political changes in 1989, the life and work of Nikola Tanev became a subject of many analyses. His art is considered an organic part of the European art but at the same time related to the national way of life.
Until the exhibition "Forms of Resistance" there were no documents published related to Nikola Tanev's stay in prison and there was no connection made between his paintings "Pernik Mines" and the series "Kutsiyan", on the one hand, and his life in prison, on the other hand.
- Pernik, Bulgaria
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Atanas Vasilev Patsev was a Bulgarian painter and illustrator. As a secondary-school boy, Patsev joined the communist revolutionary movement and became a partisan.
In 1949, he graduated from the State Academy of Arts, in the class of Prof. Dechko Uzunov.
During the 1960s, his method of work changed in favour of the modern means of the expressive sculpture and painting. In 1968, his exhibition "Weightlessness" provoked confusion among the authorities responsible for the ideological correctness of art. The exhibition was accompanied by a small brochure containing text by the author as well defining weightlessness as a leading principle of the composition. "The form has no weight. It becomes unstable, transparent. The familiar silhouette loses shape. As if the inner construction of the body becomes visible. As if the range of visibility expands. The motion becomes six-way, rotary, supple and undulating" (Patsev, quoted after Iliev 2016: 153). The exhibition took place in a time when the situation in Paris was revolutionary and the Prague Spring was at its height.
Patsev's call for plastic revolution was initially wrapped in silence but afterwards defeating reviews were published: "roughly deformed bodies and practices", "a mixture of styles". The exhibition was attacked for "not containing any new problems" and the author was accused of "discrepancy between theory and practice" (Iliev 2016: 153). The philosophy of weightlessness was perceived as a threat to the regime whose ideology was based on the theorem of control of the Party-state over all processes. "The deprivation of gravity of the person represented is determined as theoretical vandalism similar to anarchism because the concept of the place of the particular individual puts him in a strict rank, together, united, in the group, in the team, at the meeting, at a manifestation. The idea of the different points of view is opposite to the only true uniform line represented by the Party" (Iliev 2016: 153).
Paradoxically, Patsev was simultaneously accused of secession, cubism and expressionism – styles defined by the party ideologists as "noxious", "decadent", "effete" bourgeois forms of plastic thinking.
In the next years, Atanas Patsev created big cycles of paintings on subjects related to the anti-fascist resistance ("Partisan Recollections"). The themes were ideologically orthodox – the events were promoted to mythologized heroism. However, the plastic language did not correspond to the pattern. The paintings of the cycle "The Man and the Things" were perceived as an attack of Patsev on the communist ruling crust tempted by gaining.
The portraits painted by Atanas Patsev combine "analytical mind and emotional expression" (Iliev 2016: 156). The portrait of Kiril Petrov (1976, Kiril Petrov – a painter who spent many years in estrangement and self-isolation from the public art life after being accused of "formalism") is created with dynamic contrasting colours so that the view of the head is from below and that of the arms is from above. Using the means of perspective, Patsev upsets the balance of the viewer's static contemplation. "Kiril Petrov forecasts through the hatches of Patsev [...] The resistance of Atanas Patsev against the System is the resistance of a man religiously believing in its ideological righteousness, on the one hand, but on the other hand, of a painter who sees its visible ugliness. The painter fights against its main principle – the submission to the rules, standards and instructions. And sometimes, flying on the wings of the subconscious sense of the divine, he manages to escape the locked room of the ideologized mind" (Iliev 2016: 156-157).
There is no monograph published.
- Bulgarian National Art Gallery
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The American artist Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff) descends from a Bulgarian industrialist family.
In 1953, he began his studies at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HIFA). In 1954, the talented student painted the painting "Rest". That was a time when the theme of "socialist building" established itself as a leading one in art. The representation of the development of heavy industry (factories, reservoirs, highways, works) was a priority. The collectivization (respectively mechanization) of agriculture and livestock breeding was also one of the important topics in propagandist art: portraits of brigade leaders, shock-workers, innovators, team leaders, heroes of labour, eminent front-rankers, labour competitions "running high". The painting of Yavashev lacks a labour enthusiasm – the faces are depressed, the poses express fatigue, the falling horizon dramatizes the feeling of despair (Iliev 2016: 106). The painting was highly criticized by the Rector of the Higher Institute of Fine Arts, Prof. Panayot Panayotov, "because of the colourful clothing and the inclined horizon" (Stefan Javacheff, cited through Iliev 2016: 106). The Rector determined the clear ideological requirements of the Institute: "Our institution of higher education is ideological. It is wrong to think that the good painter, sculptor or applied artist could fulfil the tasks required by the present day regardless of whether he has or has not a socialist view of life, a new vision and attitude toward the world." (Panayotov 1958, cited through Iliev 2016: 106). Thus, the painting was not only criticized but it remained unknown, preserved by the painter's brother.
Christo Javacheff found a way out of the environment that suppressed art by emigrating in 1957. Together with his wife Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon Christo Javacheff became world-known.
After the political changes, the art of Christo Javacheff – Christo slowly won official recognition in Bulgaria. Christo's first significant exhibition was realized not until 2015 at the Sofia City Art Gallery.
The composition "Rest" never left the home of Stefan Javacheff; its reproduction in real size was shown for the first time at the exhibition "Forms of Resistance".
- Private ownership of Javacheff, Stefan
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