I recently attended an opening night at the Hedgehog Gallery in Veliko Turnovo and was very pleasantly surpised. Fourteen young, contemporary artists were exhibiting their work and very few pieces failed to engage the observer. Indeed, they were fresh and original works executed in a striking variety of media, ranging from oils, cast, mixed media and collage, to sculpturol pieces using found objects.
Several artists had clearly established a style, others seemed to be still experimenting, but overall, the work was interesting, thought-provoking and aesthetically pleasing. Had I the funds to spare, I would have happily purchased several pieces yet would have struggled to choose which ones to buy.
This was a satisfying and gratifying experience. I am of an age whereby most Eastern European art was, I remember, functional and often dull: celebrating the workers and the achievements of communist society. Whilst I have no problems with many of the individual works produced during this idealogical, cultural period, I was aware of the restriction of style, and the conformity to a proscribed set of artistic values.
When I came to live in Bulgaria, with my dream of establishing an art project that provided gallery space for new work, I knew next to nothing of the local arts scene. But in my gut I felt that this society, which had only very recently allowed its citizens to travel, and opened its borders to visitors after decades of a totalitarian regime, must surely include a burgeoning, inspiring, artistic core. After years of following the Party Line, there had to be numerous individuals exploring novel ideas and clamouring to express their own, unique voice.
It takes time to shake off the shackles of conformity, and the current generation of Bulgarian artists are now showing that they have much to say about contemporary life, albeit in relation to their society’s immediate past, and they clearly have their eyes and ears and sensibilities open to an internationally connected future.
I am excited to get the ufo studios gallery functioning, to provide another platform for young and innovative Bulgarian artists.
Margaret McQuade McAuslan, ufo studios coordinator, March 2013
Ганчо Ганчев / Gancho Ganchev
Димитър Стефанов / Dimitar Stefanov
Дамян Бумбалов / Damian Bambalov
Йордан Костов / Yordan Kostov
Виктория Георгиева / Viktoria Georgieva
Николай Божинов / Nikolay Bozhinov
Виолета Гацова / Violeta Gatsova
Илиян Ненов / Ilian Nenov
Гергана Рахнева / Gergana Rahneva
Марина Върбанова / Marina Varbanova
Димитър Стоицов / Dimitar Stoitsov
Найден Колев / Nayden Kolev
Ивелина Русева / Ivelina Ruseva
Павел Църов / Pavel Tsarov