"THE ACADEMY AS DESTINY. 120 Years Since the Birth of Iliya Petrov" at Petko Zadgorski Art Gallery, Burgas


7 February – 9 March 2024
Opening: 7 February 2024 (Wed), 6.00pm
Petko Zadgorski Art Gallery, 24 Mitropolit Simeon Street, Burgas
Curated by Dr. Milena Balcheva-Bozhkova and Ivo Raykov
On 7th of March, the National Academy of Art together with Archives State Agency, Burgas City Municipality, and Petko Zadgorski Art Gallery will present the exhibition dedicated to Prof. Iliya Petrov, the great Bulgarian artist and long-time teacher at the Academy of Arts. The exhibition is realised within the museum programme of the National Academy of Art in partnership with the Archives State Agency.
For a year, the project research team has focused its attention on one of the most interesting periods of Iliya Petrov's artistic development–the period related to the Academy of Arts and the first years after his graduation. The first interwar decade is of great importance in the process of Petrov's formation as an artist, which is why researchers often find reasons to continue studying and analysing it. This is the time of the first professional attempts in the world of art, time of incessant wanderings, time in which the bright individuality of the artist–equally impressive in both painting and drawing–is being formed.
The years at the Academy leave a deep mark on the artist's creative path. It all starts way back in 1921, when the eighteen-year-old Iliya crosses the threshold of the State Academy of Arts. From the studio of the beloved professor Nikola Marinov to the competition for specialisation to the exhibition report on what he has learned abroad – every important moment of the artist's life becomes an integral part of the historical chronicle of the Academy as well. His artworks created during the second half of the decade, which are inextricably linked to the time he has spent in Munich, to the influences of German Expressionism, to the nostalgic sadness of his homeland and the insight into the world of others, find their natural place in the exposition.
An important moment in Iliya Petrov's life wanderings is the competition for the position of teacher in Painting at the Academy in 1940, which he win in a contested battle with a number of distinguished masters of the brush. The beginning of the 1930s marks the closing of an important page in the artist's development. The themes in his work become more and more socially engaged, yet manifesting different, neoclassical aesthetics. In the years to come, he would turn more often to portraiture, landscape and figurative compositions and his work from the 1920s would remain for a long time in the file folders and the lonely corners of the studio, awaiting to be rediscovered.
More than 40 artworks coming from the Museum Collection of the National Academy of Art, the National Gallery, Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery – Shumen, Donation "Svetlin Rusev Collection" – Pleven, History Museum – Panagyurishte, and private collections will be exhibited.
In order to enrich the historical narrative, interesting archival documents from the Archives State Agency, the Archive of the Union of Bulgarian Artists, and the Archive Fund of the National Academy of Art, and particularly selected book editions illustrated by the artist in the 1920s, from the fund of the National Library "St. St. Cyril and Methodius" will be presented in the exposition space.
The project is financed under the programme of the National Academy of Art for its inherent scientific and artistic activity.
Milena Balcheva-Bozhkova (project manager and exhibition curator), Ivo Raykov (exhibition curator), Stefan Belishki (restoration), Silvia Varadinova-Papadaki (restoration), Mladen Vrabcharski (exhibition space design), Sylvia Miloslavova (editor), Nadia Rusova (collaborator), Yoana Karcheva (collaborator), Simona Simeonova (collaborator)