WOMEN ARTISTS. NEW HORIZONS BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD WARS
14 September – 27 November 2022
Exhibition opening: 14 September (Wednesday), 6:00pm
Thus, without taking an in-depth approach to the issues of new art, this year women artists are nonetheless presenting some kind of new art, as the mould old art is cast into is strange to them. Having made their arrival recently, they bring with them the freshness of a different world, their own, with the swiftness of an unfinished news story, yet also with the easy inspiration of illustration, fashion magazines, attention to art culture.
Chavdar Mutafov, 1932
The Sofia City Art Gallery is opening its new season with an exhibition constituting a study of works by Bulgarian women artists created in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. Characterized by dynamism and the numerous challenges faced by Bulgarian culture both socially and aesthetically, the years between the two world wars are a period in Bulgarian history that saw the comprehensive development and outcome of numerous multifaceted processes that started in the late 19th century. The time between the two world wars played a significant role in shaping modern society, so researchers keep going back to it in their studies and analyses. This particular study focuses on women artists and their work. Even though certain aspects of the exhibition’s theme have been studied and presented in varying degrees, this has been the first attempt to come up with a thorough account of women artists’ presence in the art scene during the abovementioned period.
For three years, the project’s research team worked with plenty of museums, libraries, archive agencies, artists’ families and other individuals to collect information about work by woman artists, many of whom have become obscure through the years, thus giving the latter a new prominence. In the early 1920’s, an impressively large group of women artists having rejected traditional gender role beliefs became active in the art scene. Self-confident, determined and devoted to her talent, the woman artist of the time between the two world wars managed, from today’s perspective, to establish herself in the art scene.
The exhibition features more than 200 fine art and craft works. Most of them were created in the period 1919–1939 representing a wide variety of genres and themes. They were grouped thematically referring to: the foundation and development of the Women Artists Section in Bulgaria; women’s art within the context of the Bulgarian art scene; women artists in the modernist age, and, last but not least, women artists and applied/ decorative arts, textile, ceramic and leather art in particular. The story told by artworks is complemented by archive material and specially selected books.
The exhibition features works by more than 65 women artists, some of whom are familiar names like Vera Lukova, Vera Nedkova, Ekaterina Savova-Nenova, Elena Karamihaylova, Elisaveta Konsulova-Vazova, Sultana Suruzhon, etc., while others, such as Alexandra Mechkuevska, Darena Georgieva, Elena Grancharova, Margarita Milidzhiiska, Rayna Rumenova, Nadezhda Deleva, Tsana Ivanova-Boyadzhieva and many more are still to become known to the wider public.
The exhibition is a partnership project of the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Academy of Art, the Archives State Agency and the St. Pimen of Zograph Foundation, National Academy of Art, realized with financial support from the Sofia City Municipal Authority, the Culture National Fund (Program for recovery and development of private and cultural organizations), the Art and Research Programme of the National Academy of Art (2021, 2022), Aurubis Bulgaria Plc., and private collectors.
The exhibition and its catalogue feature works and archive material made available by:
Enakor Auction House, Bulgarian National Bank Art Collection, Dzhurkov Family Gallery, Plovdiv, Boris Georgiev Varna City Art Gallery, Plovdiv City Art Gallery, Archives State Agency, Panagyuriste History Museum, Victoria Gallery collection, Chudomir Museum of Literature and Art, city of Kazanlak, SS Cyril and Methodius National Library, National Gallery of Art, National Academy of Art, Fitsov Family Collection, Museum of Regional History, Sofia, Sofia City Art Gallery, Union of Bulgarian Artists, Vaska Emanuilova Gallery, Sofia, Dimitar Dobrovich Sliven City Art Gallery, Elena Karamihaylova Shumen City Art Gallery, George Papazov Yambol City Art Gallery, Iliya Beshkov Pleven City Art Gallery, Kazanlak City Art Gallery, Nikola Marinov Targoviste City Art Gallery, Stanislav Dospevski Pazardzhik City Art Gallery, Stara Zagora City Art Gallery, Central Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, private collections and archives
Adelina Fileva, Director of Sofia City Art Gallery
Prof. Georgi Yankov, Rector of the National Academy of Art
Prof. Svilen Stefanov, D. Arts, Vice Rector for research, art, publishing and international affairs of the National Academy of Art
Mihail Gruev, PhD, Assoc. Prof., Chair of Archives State Agency
Milena Balcheva-Bozhkova, PhD, Ramona Dimova, PhD, idea, concept, research, completion
Ilinka Chergarova, Milan Mihaylovich, Svetlana Hristova, Stefan Belishki, Silvia Varadinova-Papadaki, restorers
Nadezhda Oleg-Lyahova, exhibition design
Peter Dimov, Margarita Eneva, Dimitrina Spasova, PR
Ana Topalova, assistant
Sylvia Miloslavova, Lora Sultanova, editing and proofreading of text in Bulgarian
Miroslava Nikolova-Tchernodrinska, AGILA Translations Ltd., Albena Georgieva-Angelova, English translation
Rosen Toshev, photographer