During May the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you, the sculpture “Seated female figure”, for a monthly accent, by the prominent Bulgarian wood carver prof. Kancho Tsanev. He is one of the notable figures in the development of the contemporary Bulgarian wood carving art and he is the only author, who works in all of its directions – relief, monumental and cabalette plastic, decorative furniture, interior solutions, iconostases. The choice of the sculpture “Seated female figure” for a monthly accent is not random, as it is created during the same year, in which K. Tsanev was a menacing director of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. Apart from that, it also gives the opportunity to the broad audience, to get to know one less known side of the work of the author – the cabalette plastic, which clearly shows his sculptural vision to the form and volume in the space, complemented by a stylisation, intrinsic to the wood carving. Kancho Tsanev was born during 1934 in the village of Bahertsi, in the region of Tryavna. This region, known for its woodwork, as well as his family, who are also woodcarvers to a large degree define his choice of profession. He graduates from the school of applied arts in Tryavna under the woodcarver Tsanio antonov. In 1960 he graduates from the National Academy of Arts in Sofia, in the atelier of the prof. Asen Vasilev. After a substantial professional schooling from one side by the inherited traditions of Tryavna, and from the other the academic education K. Tsanev turns into one of the main figures in the field of the decorative-applied arts and in woodwork at the same time. Characteristic for his work is the synthesis between woodcarving and sculptural vision, which expresses itself in bringing the plastic of the form in the frontal part of the object. Probably a huge influence in that direction comes from his contact with asanas Dalchev, who is his teacher in sculpture in the Academy. A large part oh the artistic path of K. Tsanev is connected to Tryavna. He returns to his home town during 1960, immediately after he graduates from the Academy of Arts. For a short period of time he is a teacher at the school for applied arts. By his initiative, the woodcarving atelier is created, in the woodworking enterprise “Balkan” in Tryavna, where many monumental state orders are fulfilled. The first of them is for the central lodge in the House of culture in Gabrovo. Following are orders for different monumental objects in the region – a ceiling for the building “Sedianka” in the village of Gergini, a ceiling for the old tavern in Gabrovo, a ritual room in the village of Stokite, objects in Bozhentsi and others. Next, follow objects all around the country. One of the most-extensive objects completed in Tryavna is the ceiling for the “Sunny room” in the Boiana residence, where for the first time in the history of the Bulgarian woodwork, he faces the problem for the wielding of so large space – 800 sq. m. and the synthesis of the new architecture. Further ahead, he solves other ceilings, in a similar way – the one in the embassy in Moscow, the one in the ritual hall in Hlebarovo, a ceiling in Bonn and other. During this period K. Tsanev is already a member of the UBA and works with different cultural activities in the region of Tryavna – he participates in the union of the Gabrovo artists, he becomes a chief artist of Gabrovo during 1968, with which he contributes to building of the monumental outlook of the town by creating sculptural monuments of Georgi Genev (1963 in an co-authorship with Iva Hadzhieva), bust of priest Hariton (1966), plastic shaping of the Gabrovo theatre (co -authorship), mosaic on the facade of local Hospital (1968 co-authorship with Georgi Doinov, together with him in 1969 they made a fresco for the District’s peoples’ council in Gabrovo in 1969).Little known is the fact, that prof. Kancho Tsanev is also an author of the plastic solution of the herald of Gabrovo municipality on the Clocktower on “First of May” square from 1966. In 1972 he exercises the position of managing director of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery and naming one of the halls, in the gallery after him is therefore not random. During 1975 K. Tsanev becomes a teacher in the Academy of fine arts, but the connection with the Tryavna atelier remains. More monumental solutions continue to be made, where one of the basic purposes continues to be the synthesis between woodcarving and architecture, which leads to rethinking and renewing of the ornament in the interior space. Besides that, K. Tsanev works with the design of furniture for domestic and public interior – coffers, cabinets, tables, chairs. In them the author uses ornamenting of his own as well. After 1994 he begins to work on iconostases – in the village of Barzia, Pamporovo, Smolyan, Gorna Bania and other. They too, are innovative, in terms of their ornamental solutions, as well as their architectonics. Through the sculpture “Seated female figure”, the audience has the opportunity to get in touch with the art of on of the most notable representatives of the applied art in our country – prof. Kancho Tsanev. You are welcome in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. We remind everybody that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee.


During April the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce to you the painting “Mounting yard” by the famous Bulgarian artist Petar Dochev. This year we mark 85 years anniversary of his birth.The artists’ name is most often linked emblematically to the forming and development of the industrial landscape in the Bulgarian visual art from the beginning of the 70s of the 20th century.

Petar dochev was born on the 6th of October 1934 in Lesidren. He graduates from arts high school in Sofia during 1956 and specialises under the artist Ivan Hristov. During 1957 – 1959 he studies specialising in “Painting” under prof. Ilia Petrov and prof. Nenko Balkansky in the Academy of arts in Sofia. Petar Dochev makes more than 30 exhibitions in the country and abroad. He is a laureate of second prize from the International painting triennial in Sofia in 1996. During the years the artist makes many experiments and radical changes in his personal style of painting. Some of his artworks are owned by the National art gallery, many galleries in the country and private Bulgarian and foreign collectors.

In the living and creative fate of Petar Dochev the metalworking factory “Kremikovtsi” (where he works from 1960 to 1975) there is a developing meaning for the world view, logistic and creative forming of the artist. The travel of Dochev from the geometrical precision of the harsh industrial terrain, to the enormous minimalistic paintings goes on for many years, filled with work, search, figuring out of form and abstraction, to absolute construction of a strictly individual concept for painting.

Petar Dochev doesn’t seek the beautiful, fashionable, overfilled and the popular in the life around him. He doesn’t take interest in the increased colouring and expressive power of contrast. For him, what remains most important is the solid monumental form, the strong construction and the fine nuancing of the colour. The sixties in his work are linked to large shapes, filling the canvas. The silhouettes are clear, strong and the backgrounds are clear. There are no chit-chatting details and non-important nonsense, as he has a strongly developed feeling for contrasting from the important parts.

That helps him walk smoothly, the way from the analysis to the synthesis, and from the nature to the abstraction. The tracks by the tyres of the trucks in the black mud, the silhouettes of the metal scaffolds and constructions, the expression of the black and rusty-red in the painting “Mounting yard”, become stylish lines in a new structural organisation of the paintings’ space. In his works Petar Dochev always seeks the deeper level of suggestion.

During May 2006, the artist is posthumously distinguished with the prestigious award “Zahariy Zograf”. Academic Svetlin Rusev, leader of the jury, which granted the high distinction, says in his speech: “…Rarely ever was the jury so single-minded , as this time, with deciding who will receive the award. Those, who were there, and those who weren’t both stopped at the name of Petar Dochev, because he had a series of many strong doings. No matter, whether he is among us or not, he deserves most of all this distinction. This is the most serious award, which stood through all twists of time and remained as a measure of the serious and constant in the Bulgarian culture.”

With the painting “Mounting yard”, the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the creative visions of Dochev, which lay the foundations in the development of the Bulgarian contemporary abstract art. Everybody is welcome in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo. We remind, you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee.


During the month of March the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you the painting “Three peasants” by the famous Bulgarian painter, caricature and graphic artist – Stoian Venev, selected for monthly accent. The choice of painting, by this author is not random, as on the 20th of March, we mark 30 years since the passing of the artist. Venev is among the most recognizable painters of our nation. He is an author of a secular art, with an easily accessible and expressive language. He paints with large brush strokes and large forms, with a simplicity of the composition. He creates thousands of everyday life scenes and openly erotic paintings, inspired by the national traditions and narratives. In his art, there is always a slight tease or a wink. He paints landscapes, in which we can see his strong connection to the Bulgarian land. A plastic painter, he is inspired by the national folklore.

Stoian Venev comes from a poor background. He was born on 21st of September 1904, in the village of Scriniana, in the area of Kiustendil. He graduates (1931) Painting at the National academy of arts in Sofia with his professors being Stefan Ivanov, Boris Mitov and Dimitar Giudzhenov. As early as a student he prints his first caricature “Celebration of the flowers” (1921) in the newspaper “Red laughter”. Venev paints mainly everyday life images from the Bulgarian villages. His art develops in satirical as well as genre plan.

Beginning from his academic studies, dares to create not only paintings and graphics for the everyday life, but also erotic artworks – something that blows the ways of the 30s of the previous century. Two years after his graduation, the police confiscate five of his paintings, exhibited in an exhibition. The charge is that they have an “immoral” content. The court files a lawsuit for pornography against the future classicist. After some contemplation the judges decide – the artist is innocent.

The first exhibitions, in which Venev participates are during the 30s – together with the sculptor Ivan Funev. After the 9th of September 1944, he publishes his caricatures in the newspapers “Hornet” and “Labour deed”. His painting stories become very popular among the people.

They elect him for a national representative, but he only manages to stay at the parliament for two months. “The brushes await me and they’re crying for me, I can’t ditch painting”, he says and returns to his weird peasants, who enjoy naked women. His motto is “Enjoy the sun every day and the fact that you are alive !”

He organizes solo exhibitions in Sofia (1942), Moscow (1965), East Germany (1969), West Berlin (1971) and other. He participates in collective art exhibitions in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, China, Berlin, Budapest, Leipzig, London, Paris, Vienna, Athens, Bucharest, New York and other. He makes anniversary exhibitions in Sofia (1954, 1964 and 1974) and Kiustendil (1984).

Artworks by Stoian Venev can be found in the National art gallery, the Sofia city art gallery, the Dresden art gallery,Pushkin museum in Moscow, in galleries in London, Paris, Kishinev, St. Petersburg and in multiple private collections. He is awarded with the title “Honorable Citizen” of Kiustendil in 1965. He is a laureate of Dimitov’s prize (1949 and 1953). He is also awarded with the orders “9th of September (1954), “Peoples’ republic of Bulgaria” – I st degree (1959 and 1974) , “Kiril and Methodius” – I st degree (1963)”, G. Dimitrov” (1954, 1964, 1974). He passes away at the age of 84 years old, on the 20th of March 1989.

With the painting “Three peasants”, the public has the opportunity to enjoy the work of one of the biggest classicists of the Bulgarian visual arts Stoian Venev. Everybody is welcome in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery Gabrovo. We remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee.



During the month of February the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you the painting “The child’s dream”, for accent of the month, by one of the favorite artists of the Bulgarian royal family from the dynasty Sachs-Koburg-Gota- Tsvetana Shtilianova,. Her work, still remains less known by the Bulgarian public. She paints mainly in the portrait genre. Her artworks are distinguished with the search of the spiritual state of the model.

Tsvetana Shtilianova was born during 1903 in Kazanlak. Barely turning fourteen years old, she enrolls in the State school of art. Between 1917 and 1922 she studies in the atelier of prof. Tseno Todorov. During the next three years she paints many portraits of her friends, and close ones, using a pencil and sangin, as well as several self-portraits. She finds her own characteristic of the persons, whom she paints. in the expressiveness of the drawing, the modeling soft shade, the eyes, the gliding of the eyebrows and in the lining of the lips.

During the year of 1925, she continues her studies in the Academy guided by prof. Dimitar Giudjenov, with her basic classes being in painting. During this period her paintings show the ever growing interest in the portraiture. Her attitude toward the myths and legends is also distinguished with the works “Orpheus and Eurydice”, “Prometheus”, “White fairytale”, “Vision” and other. She graduates in 1928 and immediately participates in the Second group exhibition of the artists in Bulgaria.

In 1929 Tsvetana Shtilianova leaves for Paris, together with her sister Rosa and her husband /both of them musicians/. She dedicates a large part of her time to the Louvre museum and studies the painting of the old masters, by making copies of works by Holbein, Rembrandt, Hals and Rubens. Judging by the style of the painting “The child’s dream”, which we’re exhibiting for monthly accent, we can infer that it was completed namely in that period. A large part of the work of the artist is purchased by French collectors and gallery workers. She spends a part of her life in Prague and Vienna. From 1933 she participates regularly in the exhibitions of association “Contemporary art” and the women artists’. Up until 1944 she is close to the royal family, and after the reforms in 1944, she paints less, mainly portraits of her close ones. She passes away in 1994, in Sofia.

With the painting “The child’s dream” the public has the opportunity to enjoy the work of the talented, but less known to the Bulgarian audience artist Tsvetana Shtilianova. You are welcome in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, Gabrovo. We remind everyone, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee.

Authors used: prof. Ph. D, Marin Dobrev


During the month of January the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you the painting “Cityscape from Paris – Monmartre” by the famous Bulgarian artist Mara Atanasova.

Mara Atanasova was born in the town of Pleven during 1921. She graduates from the National Academy of Arts as a student of Dechko Uzunov. Predominant in her work are village landscapes, still life paintings and portraits of Bulgarian women, madonnas. With her incredible sense for the colors, she manages to convey through her canvases, an unique warmth and sweet nostalgia for better past times. During her sixty years of work Mara Atanasova participates in 48 national exhibitions, 16 solo exhibitions, International biennial in Basel. Her paintings are a part of private collections and galleries in Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, USA, Japan, Russia. In one period of her life, Mara Atanasova paints using her fingers, with this technique, being applied only on her miniature artworks. This explains the need to submit more tones, and with the fingers they become crystal clean. The painting introduced by us depicts a cityscape from the Montmartre hill in Paris.

The Montmartre hill is a sacred place from thousands of years. Once, here gathered the priests and druids, today – the tourists. Located on its top is the basilica Sacre Coeur , which is built in a Romano – Byzantine style. Like any other basilica, this one is also connected to hundreds of historical facts, persons and a history spoken from mouth to mouth. In this case too, there is war involved, faith and the spirit of people, fighting for their convictions.

Many elements from the architecture of the basilica symbolize nationalistic themes. Coming close to the church one notices two statues – of the French saint Joan of Ark and the king of the sun Louis XIV. Sacre Coeur is built from a specific type of stone, which guarantees the white color of the basilica even with atmospheric influences and pollution. The mosaic in the apse is among the largest in the world. The most beautiful part of the complex (the temple) is the garden for meditation and the fountain. Usually, there its full of people and the feeling that Paris is in your feet is amazing. The upper part of the dome is open for tourists and offers an effective panoramic outlook to the city, mostly south of the basilica. Due to the church being located on the top of the hill, the climbing to it can be a problem for many people, so in the base, there is a lift, which takes the tourists up for only a couple of seconds.

Everyone who wants to get a closer look at the painting by Mara Atanasova, can do that in the building of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo. We remind all connoisseurs of Bulgarian art, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee in the gallery. Everyone is welcome !


Two winter landscapes, by the well known, not only by the Gabrovo audience, artist Ivan Hristov – Groga, are a monthly accent for December at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. The fairytale winter landscapes, have a paradoxical way of combining the cold winter colorite, with the feeling of coziness and warmth. The two paintings provoke the viewer to trace the way of development of the artist, introducing different stages of his creative work. One of them is a part of the travelling exhibition of the Gabrovo artists – “Art from the centre”, and has been a guest in cities, both at home, and abroad, in countries such as Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. It was painted in the year of 2014, and depicts one of the typical for Groga fairytrale plots, with houses and trees in the winter. The other painting is from an earlier stage of his career and is named “In the end of town”, depicting a winter landscape with street lamps and blocks of flats, to which leads a road.

Ivan Hristov – Groga is a painter, whose artworks are characterized by an exceptionally fine drawing style and precision. His style is defined as hyper-realism with a taste of surrealism. Both in reality, as well as in his work, Groga lives close to the nature and far from the vanity of civilization. His landscapes are clear, precisely and patiently drawn, without unnecessary or frivolous details, burdened with the life philosophy of the artist. They rarely contain more than one main object. The lack of other accents in his works, is compensated by the complex symbolism. The world of the artist is benign and full of silence. Far from the problems of the hasty and nervous everyday life, he offers us an alternative reality, full of beauty and peace.

Ivan Hristov – Groga was born in the village of Dumnitsi around Gabrovo on 27.02.1942. He graduated from the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St St. Ciril and Methodius” during 1969. From 1980 to 2006 he teaches painting in the School of arts in Tryavna. He has participated in more than 30 solo and group exhibitions, as well as many painting plein – airs in Bulgaria and abroad. The author is a laureate of Third award for painting (1999) and Special award for painting of the Ministry of Culture (2005), of the International biennial of humor and satire and arts – Gabrovo, award for painting by the National exhibition of the teachers – Veliko Tarnovo ans well as Award for painting by Gabrovo Municipality (2005, 2006, 2013). Paintings of Ivan Hristov – Groga are in galleries and collections in Bulgaria, USA, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland, Belarus and other. He lives and works in his home village of Dumnitsi.

Everyone, who wants to meet the strange and unconventional world of Groga, can do that until the 8th of January 2019 in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. We remind all connoisseurs of Bulgarian art, that each Tuesday is a day without entrance fee in the gallery. Everyone is welcome !


During November the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery Gabrovo has the pleasure to introduce you the painting “Rhythms” for accent of the month, by the Bulgarian artist Vera Nedkova. A figure, who has left a rich and diverse cultural heritage, reflecting her life.

Vera Nedkova was born during the first decade of the 20th century in Skopje to the family of the Bulgarian diplomat Todor Nedkov. Brought up in an intellectual environment and growing up abroad from a very early age she directed her attention to art. During 1923-1930 she studies restoration and painting in Vienna, where she also makes her first exhibition in 1933. The artworks from this period can be distinguished by a simplified and generalized form, clean synthetic line and delicate pastel coloring.

Vera Nedkova moves freely around the European orbits, she enters the artistic circles as one of the carriers of an immediate European experience and that too predefines her leading role in them, as well as the aristocratic distance between her and many other artists. She is spoken of as an exceptionally independent artist, always loyal to herself. During 1934 the Nedkov family returns to Bulgaria, where Vera Nedkova creates a large number of compositions, landscapes, portraits and self-portraits. The coloring in her artworks changes, becoming warmer, brighter and satiated, while the figure in her painting canvases gets richer. During 1934 and 1939 she makes two solo exhibitions in Sofia and becomes a member of the Association of the new artists.

After 1944 V. Nedkova has a hard time fitting in the new political reality. The artist also makes no attempt for a compromise, continues to paint the way she thinks and understands. Her aesthetics becomes “inappropriate”, but despite of that she refuses to change her artistic visions, which leads to her isolation from the art scene. Then, thanks to her second specialty – “conservation and restoration”, she works mainly as a restorer. During the very same period the condition that Vera Nedkova has no permission to travel abroad lays a heavy burden upon her. Having used to moving freely around Europe, she feels isolated and her cosmopolitan spirit is hurt. The live artistic events are replaced by the books in different languages. Later, during the mid 60s, in Paris, Dora Valies is impressed by her general knowledge: “She had the feeling, that she speaks with a person, who has always lived here and knows many things”.

In the beginning of the 60s, with the “unfreezing” of the artistic life comes the new acknowledgement – the rehabilitation of her earlier work and the discovery of the still unknown, not shown, piled up in her atelier works. Vera Nedkova starts to participate in representative exhibitions. The brightness in the coloring, which she finds during her first touch to the Bulgarian environment returns to her canvases, but along with a specific vibrance of the color and much larger saturation. During 1973 her jubilee exhibition on “Rakovsky” 125 street, is opened.  The evolution in her artworks from this period is towards a bigger freedom and painting expressivity. The emotional instance is achieved basically through the plastic building of the form and the diversity in the facture. In a large part of the paintings, the accent passes from the silhouette and the simplified form to the expressive and colorful organization of the spatial plans. From this period also are her compositions, which border with the abstraction – line in her work, developed consciously in the end of the 70s and during the 80s. Her next jubilee exhibition is in 1984 in the Union of the Bulgarian artists.

Everything, which Vera Nedkova leaves, such as works of art, text, memories and conversations with other people, speaks of her exceptional and erudite culture, knowing of the worlds’ artistic tendencies. Namely, this broad vision allows her to be so brave in the modern expression. The respect for her work remains inseparably, to a point – even conditioned by the respect for her as a person. In a certain sense these feelings cover each other, because her paintings and the author, as a person bring one and the same type of influence – they inspire distance, wilding and dignity, aesthetic vision.

“The purpose of art is not to sink us in the abyss of our anguishes, but to hold us alert, so that we realize our state in the world.” … “Alert”! Vera Nedkova.

Today we can enjoy a part of the incredible work of the artist, through the painting “Rhythms”, chosen for monthly accent of November. The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery invites all connoisseurs of the Bulgarian art, as we remind you, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee. Welcome !


During October the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce to you the painting “Houses and streets in Sozopol” by one of the most notable masters of the seascape in Bulgarian art Mario Zhekov. The occasion is, that on 16th of October we mark the 120 years since his birth.

About Mario Zhekov (Marin Zhekov Todorov) during 1934, the famous master of watercolor Konstantin Shtarkelov, writes with delight: “In these days worrying days, in this late fall, rainy and cold, a lad has come from the shores of our sea – to open up his soul to us … Poet by soul, he puts his brave brush on the canvas and seeks there his mood …” Two thirds of his life pass in travel and work in art. His fate is completely interwined in art. Decades ahead his name is more famous abroad, rather than in Bulgaria.

Mario Zhekov was born on 16th of October 1898 in Stara Zagora, where he makes his first steps in the world of art with his teacher being his uncle – the artist Vasil Marinov, through whom he finds the light and sound of color. During 1917 Mario Zhekov is mobilized and sent to the battlefield. Near Doiran he was taken captive. By accident he meets a French officer, who was so impressed by him, that instead of sending him to a camp, advised him to study painting in France.

He studies with interruptions in the State school of art in Sofia and the Paris school of art. During the summer of 1921 he is ready to fulfill his Paris dream. He goes to Istanbul with the intention to get on board of a ship fro France, but the money he has saved turn out to be too insufficient. Remaining in Istanbul, he creates tens of drawings and aquarelles, which will be the first steps to his future as a marinist, his artworks prompt to the increasingly awakening interest toward the dancing colors and reflections to the water. He loves the sunset – the mystique of his shiluettes and the long shadows. At that time he starts to sign his works as “Mario”. In the end of the spring of 1924 Mario Zhekov arrives in France. In order to support himself, he starts working in an art studio in Paris, and in the beginning of the next year 1925 he is invited in the famous at that time Central company for painting and decoration, making orders for its affiliates in Paris and Nice. He purposefully choses more projects for Nice, in order to paint the sea. The rivierra astonishes him with the inflamed by the sun colors of nature and water. Here he discoveres the painting magic of Matisse and the fovists. A not so small series of drawings and watercolors, which he creates during June and August around the shoreline between Marsille and Monaco, speaks of his unsupressed admiration by the light, various colors of trees, rocks, water and sky.

During 1936 Mario Zhekov leaves for Dalmatia. The Adriatic conquers him and he remains there with an interruption in winter close to a year. In Dubrovnik he paintshis most notable works. This town is as if created for his painting. Here his feel for color, light and artisticity shines brightly. His pallet is rich and bright, the painting comes in harmony with the emotion and his artistic passion. The artworks, painted in and around Dubrovnik, bring him an exceptual fame. His paintings are exhibited in several centeres in Croatia. Their extatic reception provokes solo exhibitions in Belgrade, Zagreb, Budapest and Bucharest. From there, he returns with tens of painting projects, as several of them he will turn into paintings. The autumn of 1940m immediately after the agreement for returning of Dobrudzha, he paints the so longed for landscapes from Balchik, Kavarna, Kaliakra and Shabla. During 1941 he leaves for Greece, for the white sea and the Eagean sea, he also visits Ohrid. Everywhere he seeks and finds the painting equivalent of the unique atmosphere: the panoramas of the Amphithetre Kavala, the easy swinging of the ships in the ports, the visual silence of the island of Chios, the magnetic beauty of Tasos, the peaceful greatness of Samothraki or the intimacy of the Ohrid lake, but most of all the light of the southern sun, which energizes the colors.

During 1943 Mario Zhekov, with the help of his colleague – Pencho Balkansky, manages to organize his most representative exhibition. Part of it, the same year he exhibits in Bucharest, and in 1946, also in Stara Zagora. He promotes himself as an influential and authoritative artist – marinist and landscape artist in the circle of his friends – famous masters such as Pencho Balkanski, David Peretz, George Papazov, Vasil Ivanov, Naiden Petkov, Georgi Velchev, Daniel Dechev, Maria Nedkova and many others. The societal – political changes in the country after 1944 put his free – willed character to a test. During these dark years he finds solace again there – above the sea waves, crushing in the rocks. In March 1947 he opens his fourteenth solo exhibition in Sofia, with which he marks 25 years of creative work. He passes away from this world on the 3rd of August 1955. Part of his artistic heritage is kept in the National as well as the local art galleries, to bring joy to the audience with the achievements of the Bulgarian marinistic painting, on par with the European one. Today the visitors in the Gabrovo art gallery can enjoy a part of the incredible work of the artist, which is the painting for monthly accent of October. The two artworks “Houses and streets in Sozopol” and “Around Turnovo”, owned by the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery are purchased from a solo exhibition of the artist in Sofia.

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery invites all connoisseurs of Bulgarian art, to enjoy the painting, as we remind you, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee. Everyone is welcome !


During the month of September the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo is pleased to present the painting “Portrait of N.Giukov” by the artist Lazar Donkov standing as a monthly accent. This year marks the 110th anniversary from his birth.

Lazar Donkov was born in Gabrovo on the 20th of September 1908 to the family of Rada Golosmanova, who is from the old factory –owners family of Tuhladzhievi and father Ivan Lazarov Donkov (1867 – 1946), founder of the first bullet factory in Bulgaria.

Lazar Donkov graduates from the Aprilov highschool in Gabrovo during 1927. His unfulfilled, due to financial reasons, dream of studying Architecture, doesn’t stop him from being a man with an extraordinary memory for what he’s seen, as during his whole life he goes around the villages in the Gabrovo region, and makes hundreds of sketches and drawings of renaissance houses, craftsmen workshops and technical facilities. This way during 1948, the idea for an ethnographic open air museum in Gabrovo is born. Up to a decade passes until the goal is achieved. Period in which, Lazar Donkov goes through many problems – reports about his actions, a lack of sympathy and repressions, because he was declared an “enemy of the people”, due to the factory – owners family, to which he belongs.

During 1963, the building of the first architectural – ethnographic open – air museum in our country begins. The main goal, which Lazar Donkov sets, while building “Etara”, is to recreate truthfully and in detail the craftsman, economic, agricultural and social life in Gabrovo and the Gabrovo region, during the second half of the 18th and 19th century – time in which, many crafts develop, whose production reaches as far as some European cities and to Anatolia.

The complex is formally opened in the Gabrovo neighbourhood of “Etar” on the 7th of September 1964. “Etara”  is the only museum of its kind not only in Bulgaria, but also on the whole Balkan peninsula.

The success, which “Etara” reaps, right after its opening for visitors surprises even Lazar Donkov himself, but a new problem comes into existence. Having noticed the gains, which its actions can bring, the communist party tries to take the credit for the building and the realization of the project and the name of Lazar Donkov remains in the background until 1974, when he is distinguished with Dimitrov’s award. Awards and recognitions, which came too late … two years later he passes away.

Lazar Donkov is a father of the famous for our town people – the artist Ivan Donkov and the basketball player Hristo Donkov. About his father Ivan Donkov recounts, that he loved to paint, he was a self – taught person, but with an accurate eye and a correct hand. He had a big weakness for ethnography, and had an incredible knowledge and visual memory for most of the houses and the people who populated them.

Today we can enjoy a part of the incredible work of the artist, like the painting for September’s monthly accent. The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery invites all connoisseurs of Bulgarian art to enjoy the painting, as we remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee. Everyone is welcome !


During the month of August the “Hristo Tsokev”art gallery is pleased to present to you the painting “Torreador” by the prominent Bulgarian artist Emanuil Popgenchev. The painting was finished in 1987 and is well preserved to this day. The artist himself, passes away on the 9th of August 2010 in Sofia, exactly eight years ago. He however remains in history as the only Bulgarian artist, who remains loyal to the style of “Cubism”, throughout his whole career. Thus during 1995 the famous French auction house DRUO sells all of the paintings he has introduced, which is a precedent for a Bulgarian artist. Cubism is a movement in art, which is characterized by a full rejection of the classical concept for beauty. The proportions, organic whole and the completion of the live models and material objects are not kept as they are. Instead of looking at objects from a single fixed angle, they are divided into multiple facets, so that several different aspects can be seen simultaneously. Another famous representative of this movement is Pablo Picasso. A little known fact is that during the last years of his life Emanuil Popgenchev spends the summers painting in his atelier in the village of Furgovtsi, in the Gabrovo Balkan. He is not only an artist, but a head of a whole family of artists. His wife Snezhina Popgencheva, also an artist, after completing her education in the National Academy of Arts with her teacher being professor Georgi Bodganov, lives in Gabrovo for nine years together with her husband. They have two daughters who also work in art.  Here’s what they share about their father, exclusively for our gallery: „Our father Emanuil Popgenchev, was an exceptional artist with a noble soul and he was a very, very good man. In fact, today, even us who know him and those who have just found him, are in our own way granted with spiritual and plastic truths, to which only the true believers in the life in art can reach. Father was a deep and sincere believer in this life. Let us express our gratitude to the believer! We thank, with our whole soul and heart, that he was and still is, our father and teacher in life. He will always live in peoples’ souls through the spiritual art he has left. We thank the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery for the gesture!”

The “Hristo Tsokev”art gallery invites all connoisseurs of Bulgarian art, to enjoy the painting, and we remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee. Everyone is welcome!


During the month of July 2018, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce to you a landscape from the river Kamchia, by the prominent Varna artist Georgi Velchev. The painting was drawn with oil paint on canvas and was initially registered with the author A. Velchev, together with one seascape. The staff  of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery sent the two paintings, for a check of authorship, to the Art museum “Georgi Velchev” in Varna, where it was confirmed that the paintings are originals, and that the author is indeed Georgi Velchev. This fact, puts the gallery among the few, around the country, which posses his originals. Georgi Velchev is one of the pioneers of the new Bulgarian art from the 20s of the 20th century and he is among the best authors of seascapes. He was born on the 18th of November in 1891 in Varna. From 1910 to 1920 (with two interruptions because of the First World War) he studies painting at the State art-industrial school in Sofia with his teachers being Ivan Murkvichka and Stefan Ivanov. He becomes a military artist in the quarters of First Army: captured and taken to France. He later graduates from the art school after his return from the frontlines. He is in the generation of artists like Sirak Skitnik, Nikolay Rainov, Ivan Milev, Vasil Zahariev and some others, who in the end of 1910s and the beginning of 1920s attempt to defy the traditional realism and to import in the Bulgarian art renewing and intellectual energy from the Europan modernism. Velchev is from the type of the passionate travelers, who realize the huge significance of the knowledge and the free communication in a cosmopolitan cultural environment. The artist has lived, worked and travelled around the world in famous cities like Paris, Munich, Berlin, Bremen, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Philadelphia and other. The economic crisis in the USA forces him to return to Bulgaria, where he remains until the end of his life. On the way to Europe he visits Australia and China. He was invited by the famous symbolist and expressionist Heinrich Fogheler in the notable artist colony in Vorpsvede around Bremen. In this period Georgi Velchev is an European artist, who acknowledges and strongly takes the impulses of the new art in its very centers. The marinistic artworks by Georgi Velchev arenotable in the Bulgarian classical painting and can be measured along with the canvases by Alexander Mutafov and Mario Jekov. The artist achieves an exceptional authenticity and sensory influence of the depicted natural environment. The free and expressionist painting gesture, the rich and complicated colorful harmonies attest to a strong emotional temperament and the high professional culture of this classic of the realistic image. Georgi Velchev was proud, valiant and liberal person, unbreakable and sincere in expressing his views. Highly intelligent, and also not hiding his bias toward the bohemian behavior, he has brought upon himself heavy accusations from the totalitarian power after 1944. He turns out to be unacknowledged and ostracized by that society and dies poor and deserted on the 16th of April 1955 at the age of 64 years old. His most famous self-portrait from 1948 shows a mature person, full of dignity and willpower artist, in whose glance hides skepticism and disappointment. An interesting fact is that two crates with his paintings disappear mysteriously, probably from the ships on which he travelled. The painting “river Kamchia” will be exhibited for visitors, from the 17th of July, for the period of one month. We remind the connoisseurs of art that every Tuesday is a day without an entrance fee. Everyone is welcome!

Sources: Institute of applied museology; Newspaper  “24 hours”


During the month of June the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, is pleased to to announce you two paintings by the Burgas artist Georgi Baev – each belonging to one his two completely separate periods.Perhaps few people know, but the work of the painter “Marianist” is divided into two different stages, separated by a fire in his atelier caused on purpose by his competition. One of the paintings depicts, the typical for the artist Seascape, and the other a starving child depicted with dark colors.

In one of his articles Valeriy D. Poshtarov writes:

“Burgas is not just a sea town. Burgas is an unexplainable magic – with its conquering spontaneity, with its old salty little streets, leaking to the big water, with its thuggish pubs and cafes, in which you can still see men, speaking and drinking beautifully. If you happened to see Georgi Baev in one of the Burgas pubs, he would be in the company of several of his buddies. As he would say, these are his friends from a hundred years on. He was born during 1924 in the centre of the old Burgas, on one of those streets, surrendering, unfortunately, in the recent years to the concrete trucks and the luxurious contemporary facades. Severel houses up the street lived Genko Genkov. And what a sign of destiny that is ?! Until present day two of our greatest painters. Djurlata (Baev’s nickname), was lucky to study from two great artists and persons – Ilia Petrov and Dechko Uzunov. Especially the latter, I suppose, has given him a lot with his European spirit and philosophy, with his colorful artistic spirit and a hunch to the “original”.

I was at the opening of the dramatic exhibition after the FIRE (April, 1984, “Shipka” 6). Motto: “Typical Fascism”. On point, angry and uncompromising, as Djurlata calls things. The envy, the raging mediocrity, the fuse, soaked not with gas, but with hatred – are a typical Fascism. Or as Levchev would put it: “The lack of gift is Fascism”. Among the many people who had filled the hall and the space in front of the gallery, elevated as if above all, is the bright oriole of Dechko Uzunov. As a God, embittered because of his desecrated son, as a pain and a blame. And as hope …

Me and a friend of mine who is also a collector have argued not once but many times on the topic of “The repeating composition” of Georgi Baev. Many treat this in a shallow way. When a couple of years ago I arranged 35 paintings by the artist for his solo exhibition in Varna, the same friend and connoisseur was in awe, that the paintings are indeed different, each one – with its own magic and state. Yes, the message, poetic and lofty, is one and the same. Djurlata “polishes the little stone” of this plot and composition many years … The same way as Van Gogh draws endlessly one of his favorite old bridges around his birth place. The same way as Claude Monet makes many variations of the water lilies. The same way Svetlin Rusev elevates to a spirit the modest Bulgarian Madonna… Many replicas of the original, which, maybe, hasn’t been drawn yet. Or the turning of one vision into a symbol and an emblem. The task of a lifetime.

If you happen to see a beautifully-Autumnish man with the appearance of a toreador, with boyish lively black eyes, staring in the horizon, around the Autumn coast, that would for sure be Djurlata. Behind him are the chimeras and the illusions, the mockery from the political chameleon behavior and the little treacheries, the lied hopes. Beside him, unwavering in life – Eva (his wife). And in front of him – the Burgas blue.”

The two artworks can be seen in the period between 19-th of February to the middle of July, on the 2nd floor at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. We remind the connoisseurs of art, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fees. We welcome you to come !


During the month of May, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery is pleased to present the painting “Selencium” by the famous Bulgarian artist, and one of the main representatives of the Bulgarian secession Ivan Milev. The painting remains in Gabrovo after his exhibition in the town during April of 1920. Despite being small in volume, the exhibition triggers a lot of noise and is spoken of for a long time. It is being held at the Library in town, and it features the paintings “Stellar grief”, “Sulamita”, “Dream”, “Decorative landscape”, “Pan” and other. (Ivan Mirchev “Memories”). It is considered that the friendship between the poet from Stara Zagora Ivan Mirchev and Ivan Milev has started namely from Gabrovo, and from there arose the idea of a later improvised exposition at the home of the poet. Ivan Milev is a Bulgarian artist and scenographer with very interesting life path and history.

In one of his articles Kristian Ivanov, (reporter in newspaper “Bulgaria Today”. Before that, having had the fortune to work for the newspapers “Labor”, “Outlook” and “168 hours”) writes:

“Sometimes fate has a cynical sense of humor … Ivan Milev, the man depicted on the five leva bill, has rarely had even five levas in his pocket. He lives his his breathless earth path in the blink of an eye, crushed before becoming 30 years old. Even today the artist continues to be a stranger – we’re seeing him every day, but few know who he is.

Long before shining on the five leva bill, Ivan Milev is a completely ordinary boy.

He’s a son of the shepherd from Kazanlak Milo Lalev. He was born during the winter of 1897 and his life looks predetermined. What else could the young Ivan do, than to chase livestock around the meadows of the Rose valley? Exactly as his ancestors did, for many generations ago.

And here again comes that sense of humor of the Providence, with which our story begun. The miserable life couldn’t kill the sense for beauty in the mother of Ivan Milev. By her hands come well-crafted weaved rugs, decorated table covers and Easter eggs. It is her merit, that the child began to draw since early years.

Ivan Milev graduates from the Kazanlak high school and is soon sent to the Northern front in Dobrudzha. Europe burns in the flames of the First World War. Milev makes it without being wounded, after a grenade goes off near him. For a memory, he is left with a slight stutter, with which he will remain until the end of his life. After the war Milev remains a teacher in the village of Gorski Izvor, but the poverty continues to hold him in its freezing grip. He wears his wooden shoes all the time as well as the clothes weaved by his mother. Dressed that way, the artist arrives in the Capital during 1920 and conducts his first exhibition in the pavilion of the Borisova garden.

One of the closest friends of Milev is the caricature artist Ilia Beshkov.

“We lived together – recounts Beshkov – Two steps from him, on the other bed I drew merciless caricatures, which he saw with an innocent astonishment. I on the other hand – didn’t know why I cried with pity in front of his works. Milev wore a jacket, weaved and sawed by his mother, which he called “chest”. He was pale, dressed in a funnily bad way. Some sort of righteousness as an aura embraced his weak and joyless body. He himself looked in the face like a beautiful curly ram, and in the beauty of his eyes there was lamb innocence and sacrifice.”

But the man who looks at us from the five leva bill, seems to be running away from money himself. In his hometown of Kazanlak there is a peculiar story that’s being told. One of the richest merchants of rose oil in town, the millionaire Papazov, was obsessed with the idea of giving a present to his wife a portrait painted by Ivan Milev.

The rich man knows how to be practical and convincing.

“Ivan, you are as sick as a dog, I’m giving you one million to paint my wife and with these money you can go to cure yourself” – Papazov suggests. And the artist replies: “I’m not going to paint your wife, because she is fat, ugly and with moustache!”

And the moment when Ivan Milev graduates from the Academy of Arts, with excellent grades, finally comes. The year is 1925. He receives an award for his painting Krali Marko, the critique is exalted. “That is one wondrous mosaic from generously poured emeralds, lasurites, opals and agates. All of them have stayed for a moment so that the image of the hero shines”, is what is written in a review about Krali Marko.  

It looks like the clouds above Ivan Milev’s head have scattered and the sun makes its way with a smile. He is appointed as a chief artist of the National Theatre. He marries the talented opera singer Katia Naumova, who gives birth to their daughter. They call the child Maria. Katia quits her glittering concert carrier. She devotes completely to the family and her husband, whose talent she intuitively feels. The happy days don’t go on for long. The years spent in moisture and cold have damaged the health of the artist. He senses the coming of his death. The artist dies suddenly from influenza on the 25th of January 1927.

The paintings by Milev mysteriously disappear from the Bulgarian National Bank in the period of 1944 – 1950. Katia Mileva, widow of the artist and her daughter Maria begin to lead a desperate court battle for the priceless heritage of the artist. The cases are ceased, after the tracks lead to a highly placed employees of the government bank. Part of the stolen paintings are sold in the USA, claims the grandson of Ivan Milev, architect Alexander Todorov. Most likely they decorate expensive private collections.

With the generous cooperation of then employees of BNB, the same institution, years later perpetuates the talented author on one of the most popular Bulgarian banknotes. Is that the last wink of the destiny in the story of Ivan Milev ? Hardly so. One day the lost masterpieces will surely show up. And then … Then the story will continue.”

The painting “Selencium” will be shown for the visitors of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery from the 22nd of May until mid June, and is exhibited by the occasion of accent of the month. We remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee. Everybody is welcome !


For April’s monthly accent the team of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has chosen the painting “Composition” by Dzhemal Emurlov – Jimmy. On the 13th of April 2018 we marked 70 years since the birth of the artist, who has left behind a considerable contribution in the development of the contemporary Bulgarian painting. The paintings by Dzhemal Emurlov are thoroughly influenced by the Rodopi mountains and they express the strict individualism of the author. The painting “Composition” was purchased from a Group art exhibition “The man and the labor” during 1983 and can be seen from the 17th of April, for one month.

We remind you that every Tuesday is free of entrance fee. We welcome you !


The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has selected three watercolor paintings by the great Bulgarian artist Dechko Uzunov for the March monthly accent. The artworks are a part of his cycle, depicting young women in traditional Bulgarian attire, and are a part of a donation  made by the author after his solo exhibition during 1978 in the Gabrovo gallery. As a sign of gratitude he was awarded with the sign “Honorary citizen”. The artworks are framed during 2017 with funds of the gallery, which makes it possible for them to be shown in public.

Dechko Uzunov was born in Kazanlak, and was initially a student of Chudomir. During 1919 he was admitted to study in the National arts and industrial school (today National Academy of Arts) in the class of prof. Petko Klisurov. When the general course of preparation graduates in 1922, Uzunov and his fellow student Ivan Penkov go to Munich for specialization with prof. Carl von Maar. Under his influence, the two young artists get aquainted with the work of masters such as Rembrandt van Rein, Diego Velaskes, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Max Liberman, Franz von Stuck. In the same time, other young Bulgarian famous people, such as Elisaveta Bagriana, Fany Mutafova, Chavdar Mutafov, Nikolay Liliev, Konstantin Shtarkelov, Simeon Radev, Svetoslav Minkov and others, also specialize and live in Munich, and form the friendly bonds with Uzunov, and also become models for his portraits. After his return to Bulgaria he finishes his education at the Academy of Arts during 1924 in the class of prof. Stefan Ivanov, and his teachers being other masters of art like Tseno Todorov, Ivan Angelov, Nikola Marinov. From 1926 he works as a private artist in the Ministry of Education until 1932, when he starts teaching painting in the Academy of Arts. He is an extra professor from 1937, and on a regular basis – from 1942 to 1963. Among his students are the artists Atanas Patsev, Georgi Baev, Kalina Taseva, Lika Ianko, Maria Stolarova, Svetlin Rusev, Georgi Bozhkov. The artistic heritage, that remained from Dechko Uzunov, is extremely diverse in terms of topics, genres and kinds of visual arts, both fine and applied. He works, paintings, graphics, illustration and forming of books, scenography, decorative monumental painting. The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery invites all who appreciate Bulgarian fine art to enjoy the three portraits, and we remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee. Everyone is welcome !



The “Graphics” fund at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery preserves works on paper, created during different periods of the 20th and the 21st century. Currently it holds more than 540 artworks. Part of them are prints from various techniques, but also included are many illustrations, drawings, sketches, which contribute to the diversity of the fund. Notable examples of this, are the works of Ilia Beshkov, Ivan Kiosev, Ivan Kozhuharov, Todor Panaiotov, Rumen Skorchev, Simeon Venov, Stoian Tsanev, Stoimen Stoilov and others.

During the year of the European cultural heritage the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery will acquaint the connoisseurs of art with artists, who have worked in different countries in Europe and ones who have left their imprint in the development of the visual art on the old continent. This month we present Pencho Georgiev, whose works are the oldest in our graphics fund. They were donated to the gallery by Mrs. Zaharina Haidutova in the year of 1975. The February monthly accent is his graphic “Clown” which was created in 1930 and is from his so called Paris cycle. The paintings from this sequence mark the beginning of the maturity of the artist as a graphics and paintings artist.

Pencho Georgiev was born on the 1st of February 1900 in Vratsa. He graduated from the Academy of arts specializing in decoration with his professor being Stefan Badzhov (1925). A year later he started working as a scenographer in the National opera house and the Art theatre in Sofia, and after that in the City theatre – Ruse (1926 – 1929).

During the autumn of 1928, the artist wins a competition for a specialization abroad and goes to Paris, where he specializes in applied arts in the atelier of the French decorator Paul Loran (1929 – 1934). He exhibits works in the Paris autumn salon. The French press publishes praising texts about him, pointing out that Pencho Georgiev uncovers Paris unknown to many people. From these years, his cycle with a strong social plot line stands out especially brightly, dedicated to the poor, the workers and the scavengers, to the street musicians, the flower merchants, the slums and the homeless people living under the bridges of the Seine river…

After his return to Bulgaria Pencho Georgiev (1934) works in various directions of art.

He illustrates books and textbooks. He participates in shaping the interior of homes, creates more than 30 scenographies for dramas, operas and ballets. During 1940 he begins working on the scenography for “Salambo” in the National theatre, but dies tragically in an accident with the scenic elevator. On 2nd of April 1940, the Bulgarian intellectual elite says farewell to one its most gifted representatives.

His friend for many years Ilia Beshkov shares his farewell words in tears: “This peaceful village son carried, unbeknownst from where, absolute and impeccable feeling for the art. He couldn’t go wrong and was good without effort.”

          His name will remain famous among the faces of the Bulgarian modernism, combining Secession and Decorative arts with folk motifs. Characteristics of his painting are the pale colors and the laconic compositions, as well as his searches in the scenography, where he imports a light and functional décor, atypical by then for the Bulgarian theatre. Together with all this, he’s also an illustrator of children books – “The wedding of the Mickey mouse” by Nikolay Fol (1935), “God’s gifts” by Georgi Raichev (1930) and other.

The graphic work can be seen in the period of 13th to 28th of February, on the 2nd floor at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. We remind the connoisseurs of art, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fees. We’re looking forward to your visit!


110 years since the birth of Lazar Donkov

Once again, this year the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery continues its initiative for representing of biographical information about artists and little-known as well as interesting facts about their artworks.

We hereby present to your attention Asen Popov, who has carved the image of Lazar Donkov – “The man, who created Etara”. By memories of people close to Lazar Donkov, the sculpture was created during the 70s of the 20th century. The artwork is from the Sculpture fund, which includes around 200 artworks of famous Bulgarian and foreign authors such as Andrey Nikolov, Galin Malakchiev, Boris Gondov, Panaiot Dimitrov, Pavel Koichev, George Farkashiu and other.

The sculptor Asen Borisov Popov was born on the 3rd of July 1925 in the town of Dobrich. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts “Nikolay Pavlovich” during 1959 under prof. Liubomir Dalchev, specializing in “Monumental sculpture”. He is an author of a series of compositions and monuments, such as the Monument of Liberty in the village of Stojer, the monument of Iordan Iovkov and of gen. Stefan Toshev in General Toshevo, of Dora Gabe in the village of Dabovik, of Stefan Karadja in Dobrich. He passes away on the 5th of February 2008 in Dobrich.

The name of Lazar Donkov is known not only by every person from Gabrovo, but also by many people in the country and abroad as the creator of OAM “Etar”. A strong and goal-oriented person.

Undaunted by the hardships and the state of his health, Lazar Donkov works for the realization of his idea with faith and unshakeable will, writing it in his “Short notes on the creation of the Ethnographic park-museum “Etar”:

“My idea for building of a live open-air museum was born around the years of 1948-1949. Of course in the beginning this idea wasn’t clear and specific …

I have stumbled upon real architectural masterpieces, work of the strong feeling for architecture and master craftsmanship by self-taught master builders, during my travel around the old Gabrovo markets and the villages of Bozhentsi, Skortsi, Stomonetsi, Toplesh, Delidjetsi, Todorcheta, Dedevtsi, Liutatsi, Jaltesh, Negentsi, Lesicharka, Batoshevo, Stokite and tens of others. Furthermore, the still preserved housekeeping of some of these houses spoke incontrovertibly about the exceptional feeling of refinement and beauty, with which the traditional woman from Gabrovo was gifted …

The modern life quickly changed the vision of the keeping of the house as well, and the unique architectural monuments were being torn down mercilessly for firewood or being abandoned and unmaintained by their owners, they tore apart under the burden of the years.

An epoch was going away, and with it, the time was dragging down all important marks for its existence like a stream.”

Thanks to the vision of this man, Gabrovo has kept this precious heritage!

Honor to the great individuals, who left their work with their example and their deeds!

The sculpture “Portrait of Lazar Donkov” can be seen until the end of January in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. We also remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fees. We’re looking forward to your visit!



The Christmas holidays are coming. A time in which our souls strive for grace, love and beauty, more than any other. For all those, who appreciate good art, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, represents one radiant and positive artist – the sculptor from Gabrovo Dimitrinka Grancharova and her work “Head of Emil Rozin”.

Emil Rozin (pseudonym of Petar Iv. Petrov) is a journalist, poet and a playwright. He lived and worked in Gabrovo, since 1957. He is an author to “The song of the wolves”, “And I’m seeking a distant edelweiss”, “The sailor without a ship”, “Running for endurance”. During 2010, he is posthumously given the Aprilov’s award for entire work.

Songs, sung by our famous musicians, are written by his poems: Hristo Kidikov – “Song about Etara”, Bogdana Karadocheva – “A tale about Bozhentsi”, Maia Neshkova – “Expectation”, Michail Belchev – “There is love on this earth”, Veselin Marinov – “This song is for you”, Mustafa Chaushev – “Forever” and other.

The author of the sculpture Dimitrinka Grancharova was born in the village of Chehlevtsi, Gabrovo region. She graduated from the University of Veliko Tarnovo, majoring “Sculpture”. Her works are the reliefs of Andrey Germanov and Orlin Vasilev in the Bozhentsi village; in Gabrovo – relief of Tsanko Diustabanov, Hristo Smirnenski and other. She is a regular participant in the International Biennial of the Humor and Satire in Gabrovo.

Her memories about the poet lead us in the spirit of the time of the creation of the sculpture:

“I know Emil Rozin from the former club of the Culture activists in Gabrovo. There, poems were read, creative topics were discussed, we were arguing and … so many interesting “models” all in one place. Emil had an interesting life – a sailor, a student, a poet, but that wasn’t what provoked me to invite him for a model. I liked his face, sincere, spirited and bright.

When he came in the atelier he requested for a pen and a sheet of paper and started writing something. I had piled up some clay on a stand in advance and started modelling. I never make my models pose statically. Some time has passed and Emil dozed off on the chair. That made it easier for me to complete the portrait.

The sheet of paper I gave him, turned out to be a poem dedicated to me. He gave it to me, typed, as a present, with a date of dedication. I thank him!”



На Димитринка Грънчарова

Дете от слънце изковано

не знаеш ли къде вървиш…

Дано живее тоя камък

във който ти ще изгориш.

Коя е тая късна птица?

Защо ръката ти гори?

Неуловимо слънце тича,

но тук, но тук за малко спри…

Това е странния ти покрив.

Не искаш ли да разбереш?

Ако ли слънце не те стопли

тук можеш винаги да спреш.

Дръпни стативът… И до него

една звезда ще уловиш –

щом вятърът не спре до тебе

ти можеш само да мълчиш.

Защото си дете… И слънце

от твоите очи върви.

В ателието да осъмнеш.

И бог ще те благослови.

Габрово, 1977

8 ноември




“Portrait of Aprilov”, oil on canvas, from an unknown author, from the fund of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

The history of the painting is interesting.

„It was ordered by the closest friends of Aprilov for the occasion of his 100 – year anniversary of his birth.

On the back of it we read: “Vasiliy Evstafievich Aprilov, born. … July 1789, passed 1847. Portrait painted in the town of Odessa by order of the closest friends … N. H. Palauzova and V. N. Rasheeva for the occasion of Aprilov’s 100 year anniversary, since birth … July 1889, and given as a present to the Gabrovo real school, in the town of Gabrovo”.

The choice of November’s monthly accent is not accidental. During this year, we mark 170 years since the death of Aprilov (21.07.1789 – 2.10.1847) and 120 years since the carriage of his bones from the town of Galatz to Gabrovo.

Vasil Evstatievich Aprilov was born in Gabrovo, to a wealthy merchant’s family. Initially he studied in a church school in his hometown. He loses his father at the age of 11 years old, and leaves to go to his brothers in Moscow. Later he graduates from German high school in Brashov.

During 1807 he studies Medicine in Vienna, but due to a bad financial situation or due to an illness, according to some researchers, he returns back to Russia. There he develops a good trading activity up until 1828, when he resigns, in order to devote himself to a scholar activity.

In the years of his youth he is convinced of Greece, denying everything Bulgarian in himself and living with the spiritual and political ideals of the earlier awakened Hellas. No matter of the the Bulgarian in him never dies. Until the breakthrough year for him 1831.

At the age of 42, Aprilov goes through a decisive, brash turnaround in his life. The famous work of Iuriy Venelin “The ancient and present day Bulgarians” plays a decisive role for the change in Aprilov. His turning from the interest in Greece, as well as changing of the attitude toward the Bulgaria, come to light at that period.

At the same time the idea for creating the first new Bulgarian school is born. With the help of his fellow townsman N. St. Palauzov, Aprilov begins building the Gabrovo secular school by the method of Bel – Lancaster. During 1832, in Gabrovo starts a collection of signatures, for gathering funds for building the school, in 1833 on 23rd of March, the foundations of the building are laid in the presence of the head of the church in Turnovo – Ilarion. Besides being founders, Aprilov and Palauzov become donors and take the responsibility to deposit 2000 coins each, during their whole life.

Until the end of his life Vasil Aprilov energetically helps the Bulgarian schools. His rich library and a considerable sum of 60 thousand rubles, are left by him as a heritage of the Gabrovo school, and for arranging a fund for education of Bulgarian people in Russia.

His will is by itself is a covenant to the future generations and an expression of his most – intimate hope – and for the upcoming times the striving for knowledge, enlightenment, science, for an ever greater richness and elevation of spirit to not cease.



During this month we present to your attention the painting “With pickaxes at the field” of Georgi Zhelezarov, which was donated in September 2017 to the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery by his granddaughter Radost Zhelezarova.

Aquiring this landscape, the Paintings fund, which consists of over 1500 artworks is complemented with another high value painting. The fact, that the fund is enriched with another painting of an artist, who hasn’t been represented up until now, is especially valuable to us. The landscape is painted on a cardboard with a mixed technique and it touches a topic, which is widely embraced in the work of the artist, namely the Bulgarian nature and the rustic lifestyle.

The Gabrovo audience had the opportunity to meet with the creative work of the artist from 9th of May to 9th of June 2017, when the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery was a host to the exhibition “Between Algiers and Sofia in search of the light”. It is dedicated to the 120 years anniversary of the birth of Georgi Zhelezarov and it is a project of the Sofia city art gallery and the authors’ family.

Gerogi Zhelezarov (1897 – 1982) was born in the village of Marchevo, in the Nevrokop distric (today’s Gotse Delchev). Initially he studied in his home village, and later he graduated from the Men’s school of pedagogy in the town of Ser (today’s Seres). He studied as a special student at the Art and industrial school in Sofia – “Graphics” and “Decorative art” and his teacher was, the Czech artist Joseph Peter. He worked as an engraver in the Geographical institute, in Sofia. Later as a freelance painter and a graphic artist in the capital. During 1924 – 1926 he was an artist in a State printing house. In September of 1926 he went to Algeria. During his two-year stay there, he created many artworks, including exotic landscapes, figural compositions, portraits and sketches. In 1928 he returned to Bulgaria. He worked as a master-chromolithograph, artist, and technical leader at the State printing house (until his retirement). From 1957 to 1982 he worked for himself. He created a large amount of drawings, sketches, paintings, graphical works and other stationary artworks. He is an author of many still life paintings with flowers, figural compositions, landscapes, self-portraits and different animalistic drawings. He participated in a number of plein airs. He was a member of the independent artist’s society. He was married to Serafima Iankova Sakuzova. At their wedding, his best man was the artist Boris Denev.

He organized two solo exhibitions: The first was during 1924 in Nevrokop. He exhibited landscapes, figural compositions with oil paints and watercolor, as well as stationary graphics. The second, was introduced on 19th of October 1941 in the State gallery of art in Sofia by the writer Emanuil Popdimitrov. He presented paintings from Algeria and everyday life scenes and landscapes from Bulgaria.

His artistic heritage is preserved thanks to his family – his son Angel Zhelezarov and his daughter-in-law Snezhinka Zhelezarova. After 1997, when his 100–year anniversary is celebrated, the “silence of the silent” was ceased, as he had remained hidden from the artistic life after the year of 1944.

His son Angel Zhelezarov shares about him: “With this exemplary industry, which he had, from an early morning to late night he was around nature, it was his atelier. When he returned, despite being hungry and tired, he had a bright smile – “There, I’ve painted another painting!” And the paintings were accumulating in his room, because he didn’t have an atelier. I don’t know, what it would be like, if he had an atelier and if he had the opportunity to work, would he acquire the self-esteem of a really good artist. Even today, they call him “a forgotten classic.”



“The Master and Kiustendil art school” Guest exhibition from the fund of “Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master” art gallery.



International painting plein air Bozhentsi.

This year the participants are Viktor Ranjelovich – Serbia, Katerina Orthwein – Poland, Tsvetan Kolev – Triavna, Amalia Mincheva – Sofia, Martina Karaivanova – Veliko Tarnovo, Ivan Rusev – Gorna Oriahovitsa. The plein air is organized by the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo and the UBA Sofia, the participants are accommodated at the Creative home of the UBA in the Bozhentsi village. The authors will be around the atmosphere of the Bozhentsi village for a whole week.



“Selected artworks” a guest exhibition from the fund of Hristo Tsokev art gallery – Gabrovo. Opening 18:00 o’clock at “Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master” art gallery in Kiustendil.

The exhibition includes 36 paintings from four generations of artists, who worked between the 60s of the 19th century and the end of the 20th century. Among them are masterpieces of Hristo Tsokev, Ivan Murkvichka, Iaroslav Veshin, Boris Mitov, Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master, Nikola Tanev, Dechko Uzunov, Zlatio Boiadzhiev, Tsanko Lavrenov, Stoian Venev, David Peretz, Nenko Balkansky, Vasil Stoilov, Vera Nedkova, Georgi Bozhilov, Emil Stoychev, Georgi Pavlov – Pavleto and others.



Itinerary”, solo exhibition /glass installation/ of prof. Dan Popovich, Romania; Japan hall –3rd floor.

Prof. Dan Popovich teaches at “Glass-ceramics” department at the National University of Arts, Bucharest since his graduation in 1975 until now, trying to preserve and further develop the traditions of Romanian artistic glass and technologically updating it with new expressive elements – fusing and engraving.

The exhibition displays the visions of one of the most-interesting Romanian artists, expressed through glass – a material difficult to work with. It is exhibited in an untraditional fashion in the hall, which further creates the feeling of transformation of space.



The exhibition “Between Algiers and Sofia in search of light” of Georgi Zhelezarov, 1st floor, prof. “Kancho Tsanev” hall.

The exhibition is dedicated to the 120 years anniversary of the artist’s birth. The exposition displays 205 artworks – paintings, graphics, drawings, sketches, applied projects and it shows the rich and diverse work of the artist. Included in it, are artworks from the two important cycles, conditionally called “Algerian” and “Bulgarian”, introducing his talent and abilities from the time of his active participation in the artistic life in the country during the 20s, 30s and the beginning of the 40s of the 20th century.

Drawings of the artist are shown for the first time. In them precisely, through the movements of the images, his artistic potential and sophisticated lyric become apparent. He works in the sphere of the landscape and figural compositions. Sometimes he examines the movements of the working villagers. Another time, he seeks the beauty of the villages’ paved lanes and houses, but during the whole time he’s interested in the light.



The artwork “My family” of Gatio Minevski.

Gatio Minevski is born on 12th of May 1860 in the area of Gabrovo. According to data, which was left by the local area historian Ilia Gabrovski:”He studied with interruptions in the Aprilov high school and due to poverty leaves VI grade in the beginning of 1885. He takes part in the Serbo-Bulgarian war. Since early age his teacher, the artist Hristo Tsokev, discovers his gift, directs him and fosters his first steps in the art of painting. As he is very poor, his classmates used money of their own and bought him paints, canvases and blocks. This way Gatio makes his sketches upon it. When during July of 1977, Prince Alexander Batmberg came to Gabrovo, the friends of Minevski, quickly arranged an exhibition of his drawings in the Padal café, in order to get the monarch interested, so he can provide the people who send Gatio with scholarship abroad. The Prince, really visited the exhibition, was impressed by the paintings of the lad and bought one of them – “The death of Lucrecia”.

During the period of 1881 – 1882 Gatio Minevski teaches in the town of Elena, and simultaneously works as an iconographer. He learns this craft with the Gabrovo iconographers Racho Tiholov and Hadji Ivancho Vasilev.

During 1882 – 1883, with money he collected, the artist returns in the high school to continue his education. At that time the art teacher was Hristo Tsokev. Professor Asen Vasilev who examined the work and life of Minevski expresses a suggestion, that:” …Hristo Tsokev was not satisfied to just teach the young high school man only in the predefined art classes, but also guided him outside this time, in an out of class exercises in painting… And the young artist had the case to see completed and well-schooled paintings only the works of his teacher. And if that suggestion can be accepted, these were the only opportunities for Minevski to have gained certain comprehensions for painting.”

After he completed high school the artist returns once again to the teaching profession. Initially, he works in villages around Gabrovo, and later also in the town of Turnovo. Soon after that on 14th of November 1887 after one travel he was murdered, together with his parents and sisters in the inn in Diado Strat /today Donino/ village. There are different versions on the case, the reason and the perpetrator however remain unknown.

The painting “My family” is not dated, but it is undoubtedly one of the last works of Gatio Minevski. The youth and inexperience of the author hasn’t stopped him from leaving us a remarkable work. The painting is of an enviable height, especially considering the fact, that the author was deprived of the opportunity of contact with the academism and with the painting traditions in Europe at that time. The lightness, with which the young lady in front /sister of the artist/ was created is impressive, as well as the realism in the situation in the room. While viewing the painting prof. Asen Vasilev writes: “The technical execution is well done and further processing of the painting would be detrimental.

The talent of Gatio Minevski, his convincing painting expressions, which didn’t go unnoticed by his contemporaries are an evidence, that Gabrovo has its place in the emergence and development of the Bulgarian secular painting. The facts, which are known to us today show, that the pople from Gabrovo not only, weren’t indifferent to art, but also fostered and supported the young artist, arranging his exhibition and collecting money for canvases and paints. All of this shows their ability for appreciation of the talent. On the other hand they were fully aware with the meaning of education and achievements of the European culture and that explains their attempt to send Gatio Minevski to study in Europe.

The work “My family” is an imprint of time by itself. We see an young lady, who does not differ from an European woman by outward appearance and emanation, in any way. The details in the pieces of clothing and the hairstyle, the ring on the left hand are a proof for the quick emancipation of the Bulgarian woman after the liberation.

The details from the interior of the room show us a home comfort and atmosphere, testifying to freedom of spirit and a family atmosphere emanating cohesion.



The work “Third of March” of Iordan Lazarov.

Iordan Lazarov is a prominent Gabrovo artist. He graduated from the Aprilov high school /1959/ and the National Academy of Arts “Nikolay Pavlovich”, specializing in decorative-monumental painting with prof. Gocho Bogdanov /1967/. He’s a member of UBA.

Lazarov participates in all local and national group art exhibitions regularly, with landscapes, portraits, compositions and other. His creative path passes thoroughly in his hometown.

His works are created with an incredible lyric and perfect painting, with a sense for rhythmic of the colors and the image. Artist in everything, which he goes through, thinks of and does. The conversations with him continuously surprise and refresh, and sometimes they blow up the evenings in an artistic environment.

During 2001 he makes a large solo anniversary exhibition “My town”. The first, art exhibition executed entirely with motifs from Gabrovo. “The landscape has to have a spirit. Otherwise it only becomes something that has been painted”, the artist is convinced. “Dedicated to his 60 years anniversary, the exhibition represents the artist in a familiar and in the same time new way. His town has passed through his soul, it has become more beautiful, more humane and somehow autumnally quieter”, writes the poet and belletrist Velizar Velchev.

“An exhibition of the inherent art, in which the plot is important, but is not totally everything, art, for which the spirit “the portrait” of the nature stays above everything and because of which, the trustworthy grows into a poetic, without losing its concrete features and its noble provocation”, notes in memoriam about him the journalist Petar Tsokev.

On the arranged during 2003 in “ART 36” gallery – Sofia, exhibition with twenty of his paintings, the artist Georgi Trifonov notes: “When Dancho is not here anymore, this exhibition is a symbolic revival of a name with its place in the Bulgarian visual art. It is a discovery of a new Iordan Lazarov, less known to the specialists. We remember him from the 70s – 80s, when he actively participated in the cultural life as a prominent Gabrovo artist”.

During September 2011 for the 70 –years he couldn’t live the Gabrovo municipality and the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery open in the Days of chamber music his exhibition – paintings. The exhibited more than 40 paintings are a retrospection of its own of his work as an artist with a bright painting vision. “His paintings keep the lyrical monumental type of muralist he is. In them skillfully looks a fine feeling of irony. In the same time he is an exceptional colorist, who is able to masterfully, entangle the light as an element. Iordan was very brash in the combination of colors”, says prof. Ivan Kanchev.

He is a two times winner of the “Hristo Tsokev” award for achievement in the plastic arts and other.

His works are shown and receive the most-high evaluations in expositions and collections in Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Russia, England and other.

He is an author of the decorative mosaic in the Gabrovo municipality in a co-authorship with Nikola Nikolov and Emil Popgenchev, of a decorative panel in a recreational facility in Kiten and other.

A light motive is his conviction: “Gabrovo is a big deal! It has everything: the work, the entrepreneurship, the scenic behavior, the fun. And the most interesting part are not its jokes, but the people, who create such valuable things”.

Author: Vela Lazarova



The work “Italian landscape” of Hristo Kutev

Hristo Kutev was born on 25th of December 1869 in the village of Shipka. During the autumn of 1892 with the scholarship of prince Ferdinand, he goes to study in the Krakow academy. He finds himself in the studio of one of the most notable Polish artists – Ian Mateiko. He learns from the famous at that time professors – Aksentovich, Vuchilkovsky, Unejinsky and Lieuflair. The talent and industry of the young artist are rewarded with one bronze and two silver medals.

After his graduation he receives an invitation from the then minister of national education Konstantin Velichkov to become a professor in the National School of Art. The atmosphere of Krakow and the life that’s open to the artistic processes of Europe prevail in him, in the decision to decline the proposal.

During his early years of artistic development, most impressive is his success in the field of the portrait. As early as the end of the first 10 years of the 20th century, Hristo Kutev earns the interest of the audience and the critique quickly adds his name to the list of the Krakow masters.

The interest to this genre gradually faints and the author surrenders to his real passion – the landscape.

During 1947 comes the end of a quality artistic and life time road, that has passed through various corners of the Polish Tatras – valleys, villages, forest corners, rivers, waterfalls. Recreated with skill and psychological sensitivity. At the opening of the organized in Krakow posthumous exhibition during 1947, doctor Stanislav Mazurkevich shares in his speech: “The artistic enthusiasm, provoked by the beauty of the Polish mountain, gives rise to strong feelings in the soul of the Bulgarian man Kutev … Kutev painted his cycle “The Tatras” with the wish to represent the beauty of the mountain from all aspects, as a holistic compositional solution… With this colossal cycle Kutev is probably the only one in the Slavic art, who represents the Tatras in his paintings at their whole beauty and diversity … ”

Four years after the death of the artist in Krakow, his wife Zofia Kuteva announces his wish to leave a selected part of his work to the homeland. Thus, after three years an exhibition in Sofia opens, including eighty works of the author. This is the first and unfortunately the only, meeting of the Bulgarian people with the art of Hristo Kutev, for a long period of time.

Currently, these works are a property of the National art gallery, the Kazanlak gallery and his home village of Shipka.

What is the connection of Gabrovo with Hristo Kutev and how does the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery become an owner of one of his four famous early works ?

The answer:

After he graduates from first junior high school class in Tulcha, during 1884 he enrolls in the Aprilov high school. Here namely, for the first time, the gift and the temperamental soul of the author become evident. Hristo Kutev is an active figure in the first student strike in the Gabrovo high school during January 1888, because of which he is expelled. His fate takes him to Veliko Tarnovo, where the famous Czech artist Otto Horeishy, who like Murkvichka arrives in Bulgaria during the 80s of the 19th century, becomes his teacher in painting. By his instruction he studies watercolor and oil painting. He paints landscapes and icons.

Here namely, by the skillful lead of his illustrious teacher Hristo Kutev, paints the work “ITALIAN LANDSCAPE”.



Exhibition of “Miklosh Majaroff”

Miklosh Majaroff (1929-1997)

A Hungarian painter with Bulgarian ancestry by father’s line, is a guest with works created during the second half of the 20th century. By genre and by storyline, carrying the characteristic of the traditional Hungarian painting from that period. The artist is a follower of the best traditions of the progressive school of BAUHAUS, which leaves permanent tracks in the Hungarian art. The exposition is dominated by landscapes and still life paintings in expressive colors, dynamic brush strokes and generalized forms, works, which you can see at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery. The exhibition of “Miklosh Majaroff” is the result of the fruitful cooperation between the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery and the Hungarian cultural institute “Balashi” – Sofia.


error: Content is protected !!