Stefan Petkov



During the month of May 2022, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce, for a monthly accent,  the painting “Debut” by the prominent Bulgarian artist from Veliko Tarnovo – Stefan Petkov. The artist graduates from the National Academy of arts “Nikolay Pavlovich” in Sofia, specializing in painting in 1974. Since 1962 (as the sources are stating) he starts taking part in art exhibitions in Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia, Razgrad. He is a member of the UBA( since 1978), and for some time, an assistant lecturer in painting at the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. St. Ciryl and Methodius”. He had also been a teacher in painting at the “Tryavna art school”. He is a laureateof awards for painting and sculpture of the UBA, the Military school in Veliko Tarnovo, award for sculpture of the UBA, and from the Intarnational Biennial of the House of Humor and Satire, Gabrovo (1999). He is a laureate of a gold medal for painting from the UBA, Veliko Tarnovo (1988). He makes several solo exhibitions. His artworks are a property of National and private galleries in Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Poland, Germany, France, Spain and the USA.

Stefan Petkov creates his career in the area of painting, sculpture, graphics, fresco and the applied arts. This makes him an artist, in the broadest meaning of this word’s definition. The shapes are unusual as well as the materials in his works, and the inception, which he inspires in the viewer. His artworks are filled with a deep internal emotion, which makes itself visible in the colorization, darwing and the composition.

The painting “Debut” (mixed medium, 170×120), characterizes itself to a considerable degree, with the creative approach of the artist. The surface of the painting resembles a collage, the paints create layers upon one another, onto the lint and canvas, making a volume color stains and transitions. This technique, together with the soft colors are tracing each other, until inciting an emotional reaction from the viewer. The drawing, as well as the whole composition are looking like being unfinished on purpose. In this way, the artist takes the viewer to a dialogue with the painting, offering them to finish the image in their mind. The plastic expression and freedom, together with the internal spirituality are finding their act in the painting.

In the interviews given some time ago, Stefan Petkov underscores, that he doesn’t want to define the artworks in any way. He counts on it, that every person will find something for themselves in them and thus will have a look at the soul of the author.

The artwork by Stefan Petkov can be seen by the visitors of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, from 10th of May, until the 14th of June 2022.

Author of the text Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During the month of April 2022, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery introduces for the “monthly accent” section, the graphic work “Confrontation” by Stoian Tsanev. The purposeful focusing upon meaningful and interesting artworks, from the fund of the gallery, which are however less known by the audience, doesn’t only bring historical information. The accentuation transcribes through worlds and concepts of artists, who are suggesting, through their ideas, particular psychological and emotional states.

Stoian Tsanev was born during 1946, in Burgas. He graduates from the Warsaw Academy of fine arts, specializing in painting. He works in the area of painting, graphics, ceramics and other artistic fields. His late works carry a specific minimalistic aesthetic, which he builds gradually upon the basis of multiple experiments. His early period, which we’re introducing, is more figurative, but with a very self-sufficient character. The philosophy of the author is based upon the free bohemian spirit, and the constant attraction toward the search of a new forms of expression.

The graphic work “Confrontation” introduces the viewer to a specific situation of conflict, which is with a reinforced influence, due to the deformation, which is often used in the figural compositions of Stoian Tsanev. It is completed with mixed medium during 1973. His exceptionally sharpened sensitivity, talent and a rich pallet of means of expression, turn him into a key artist, for the Bulgarian scene. The aesthetic, which is exceptionally novel, for the period of creation, makes a great impression. The preparation of the author in a foreign country, brings technical as well as conceptual ideas to Bulgaria at that time. The expressive approach, the placing of dynamic forms, take the viewer, to a specific atmosphere of mystique and even aggression in the interpersonal relations of people. The sensation of drama is further underscored with the selection of the red color, for the background of the composition.

The artworks by Stoian Tsanev, are bringing the classical artistic spirit of the bohemia in Bulgaria. His late works, which derive energy from the minimalism, characteristic of the far East, are creating an impressive mixture between cultures, searches in the field of art and a freedom of thought. Every person, who has been in touch with his artworks could not remain indifferent to their powerful emanation and transformative influence.

Ph.D Dean Boev

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


For a monthly accent of March 2022, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, introduces an artwork by the Gabrovo artist – sculptor Dimitrinka Grancharova. She is deeply connected to the cultural life of Gabrovo from the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

Having graduated from the Veliko Tarnovo university, specializing in “sculpture”, the author gets actively involved in the town environment of Gabrovo, with the reliefs of Tsanko Diustabanov, Hristo Smirnensky and others, achieving high results in the small plastics genre, as well. From 1972, she participates in regional and national exhibitions. Her works are in the ownership of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, as well as in the private collections in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece and the USA. She’s a laureate of the medal “1300 years Bulgaria”, and many other awards, which are a recognition of her high achievements in the area of the plastic arts. An important point in the research of her work, is the first collective solo exhibition, which she makes on the 6th of March 2003 at the “House of humour and satire” in Gabrovo. There she introduces a selection of her best artworks, created during her 30 – year long career. The exhibition includes small plastics and drawings. Through them, she represents her sensitivity to the form, character of the person and the fine emition, which are a mark of her unique talent.

The choice of her artwork from the fund, for a monthly accent in the gallery, namely “Head of Mincho G. Minchev” is connected to the expression of honor to the poet as well, who passed away recently. The author of the portrait sculpture, traditionally comes into the genre, demonstrating experience and understanding, not only of the purely visual part, but also of the deeply spiritual part in the model. The approach to the plastic, from her side is exceptionally monolithic, with generalized characteristics, “healthy” and with a high artistic value. Dimitrinka Grancharova maintains and builds a level, together with other famous Gabrovo sculptors, such as Georgi Doinov, Mitio Solakov and others. This creates a conducive environment, in which the aestheticism of Gabrovo is with a high priority.

Besides through the language of the sculpture, the artist develops herself, also in the area of the graphic arts and painting. During 1997, she receives an award for a painting portrait of John Lennon, who is a part of the spectacle “Ballad for John and a murterer”.

Ph. D Dean Boev

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Poet of the plastic metaphors

Georgi Trifonov


Georgi Vasilev Trifonov is a prominent Bulgarian painter, monumental – artist, graphic, and poet. The artist was born on the 18th of December 1947, at the Karlukovo train station, in the Lovech region, to the family of train workers. In 1953, they moved to live in the town of Cherven briag. In 1966 he graduates from Arts high school in Sofia. After that, he graduates from the Higher Institute of Visual Arts “Nikolay Pavlovich” (NAA), in Sofia, during 1974, under the famous Bulgarian graphic artist prof. Petar Chuklev.

From 1973, the artist begins to participate in group art exhibitions (GAE) in Sofia and around the country, as well as in international and representative expositions of the Bulgarian visual arts in France, Germany, USA, Poland, Venezuela, Russia, Switzerland. As the researchers note, the artist very quickly earns the name of one of the most-interesting and characteristic contemporary artists. He has, in total more than 40 solo exhibitions. As a member of the Union of Bulgarian artists, he actively participates in its work. He is a carrier of multiple, prestigious awards, among which the Grand prize of the UBA “Ilia Beshkov” for drawing (1985), award of the Association of the French artists (1996), the award of the “Citizens” association for culture and art for the year 2000, as well as the order of “St. St. Ciryl and Methodius” – necklace (2011).

Georgi Trifonov is an artist with exceptionally wide professional interests, who has worked in the area of painting, decorative – monumental arts, drawings, graphics, illustration and even sculpture. He’s an author of the movie script for “A break for mindless people” and ten books with poems, among which are “Mirror and self-portrait”, “Morning events”, “Bottomless citizen”, “Graphics and words”, Eye turned towards the inside”, “Echo and shadows” and others. They come out in the course of three decades. His Bibliophilic edition “Mirror and self – portrait”, consists of two volumes. The first one is with poems and graphics, while the second volume, contains reproductions of his works – paintings, sketches, drawings, watercolors, graphics, ceramics, plastics, murals. The edition is also a final self – reflection of Georgi Trifonov for one long and fruitful creative path.

The plastic heritage of Georgi Trifonov is rich and polyphonic. He is an author to over 1600 paintings, over 5000 sketches, drawings, watercolors and graphic works, over 250 ceramics, plastics and works from various materials, and over 30 projects for murals ( 15 of which were completed). He has illustrated over 200 books from Bulgarian and foreign authors.

His artworks are in the ownership of the National Art Gallery, The Sofia City Art Gallery, public and private collections in Bulgaria and abroad: Austria, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, India, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Korea, Russia, USA, France, Japan and other. Georgi Trifonov makes a large donation of his works, which are, in the moment, placed as a permanent exhibition in the church of “Holy Trinity” in Cherven briag. During 2011, his painting “One morning in Samokov” (1984) is purchased for an artistic collection of Bulgarian authors of the European parliament in Brussels. In 1993 by his offer, a fund for “Maintenance of the art in Bulgaria”, is created.

The creative life of Georgi Trifonov is connected to a particular degree with his work in Kardzhali (about 7 years). He is one of the founders of the Association of the Union of Bulgarian artists, in the town. His paintings and drawings can be seen in the city art gallery, and in the “Unification” community center. The wall of “Otets Paisii” high school, is decorated with his mural “The Apostles of Bulgaria”. The mosaic pane “1300 years Bulgaria” on the building of the police has become an emblematic part of the architectural image of the town.

The artistic imagination, of the painter is visible, as in the watercolor paintings, so in the oil ones, figuring in the complex angles and the compositional solutions in them. In his work, Georgi Trifonov constantly researches the challenge of the material, he wants to extract the inside contents of every volume and image. In his paintings from the 70s and the 80s, the clean line, the richness of pallet, the realistic drawing and an interest towards the multiple figure compositions, are all visible. After the 90s, the artist abruptly changes the direction of his artistic-aesthetic searches, stylistic transformations and the experiments with form. The artistic imagination of Georgi Trifonov becomes completely uninhibited, free of any withholdings and normative prescriptions of the art conjuncture and time. Characteristic in that respect, are his two series, “Biblical motif” and “A trace of life”. Generally, the style of Georgi Trifonov, stands out with excellence and a lyrical finesse.

This February, for a monthly accent, the staff of the gallery chose the painting “Circus” by Georgi Trifonov. The artwork is completed in a mixed technique on fiberboard and is a vertically solved composition with two human figures, standing back to back with each other. The figures stand out in front, and the accent is placed upon their faces. They are engaged in a silent dialogue, between them. On a second and third plan, the silhouettes of people and animals, who look like memories, images, going around the two main characters, are placed. The strokes of the painting are bold, and to a certain degree nervous in their details, and in the same time, the purpose of the artist is to reach a holistic generalization of the artwork. He wants to imply to us, that the world of the imaginary is much richer and multi-layered, from the world of the visible, that it is extremely important for the thinking and feeling soul, to try to activate its internal eyesight, in order to understand the invisible harmony.

During the month of February, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery , provides the opportunity to people in Gabrovo, to get in touch with a paragon from the creative work of Georgi Trifonov. Everyone is welcome !

Text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During 2022 the Gabrovo art gallery marks 60 years since its founding. It begins its activity as an art department of the Local peoples’ museum / today Regional history museum/. On the 5th of September 1962, in the eve of the 9th of September, then celebrated as a holiday of Liberty, an artistic exhibition is opened, in which a little more than 40 artworks, are introduced – paintings and sculptures. Among them are 5 artworks by Hristo Tsokev and the delegated for the museum, by the National art gallery, paintings by Ivan Murkvichka, Yaroslav Veshin, Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master and other Bulgarian artists.

From a publication in the then local news press, we understand, that the goal which the creators of the gallery set for themselves, is for it to “…track, gather and show to the citizens the best artworks of the artists from the town and area, as well as the older generation and younger artists. Thus, the visitor will have the opportunity to get an even more thorough idea about the development of the visual arts in the Gabrovo area, as well as to become aware of its most prominent representatives and their artworks.”

In 1974 the gallery becomes a separate institution, with its own building. From 1987 it bears the name of the born in Gabrovo Hristo Tsokev – one of the first Bulgarian artists, who have received an academic education, graduating from the Moscow school of arts.

The history of the gallery is intertwined with names such as Kancho Tsanev, Mitio Solakov, Nikola Nikolov, Mincho Minchev, Ilia Savchev, Simeon Abanos and others.

Today in the “Monthly accent” column, we have the pleasure to introduce you one of those 40 artworks, which have participated in the first exhibition of the gallery – the painting “Village landscape” by Ivan Markvichka. Ian Vatslav Markvichka, as is his birth name, was born in the village of Vidim by Duba, Austrian empire / today within the borders of the Czech Republic/, on the 23rd of April 1856. He studies at the Prague academy of visual arts and at the Munich art academy.

By an invitation of the Government of Eastern Rumelia in 1881, he comes to Bulgaria and is immediately appointed as a teacher in the Plovdiv high school “St. St. Ciryl and Methodius”. During 1896 he is among the founders of the State school pf painting / today National academy of arts/. The same year Ivan Markvichka is unanimously elected for a principal of the first higher education art school in Bulgaria.

The creative search of inspiration leads the prominent painter, two times to the Gabrovo area. During the summer of 1892, on the way from Tryavna to Gabrovo, Markvichka passes through the village of Jaltesh. From the personal archive of the regional historian Ilia Gabrovsky, kept in the State archive – Gabrovo, we learn, that the artist is impressed by “one little typical for the Gabrovo area village house nearby the “St. Athanasius” church, in the village. As a real plein air artist, Markvichka, unfolds the tripod and starts painting the house of Stoian Ivanov Riazkata. The unusual for the citizens of Jaltesh happening, quickly gathers them around the artist. The children, who were just released from the village school, crowd there first, to observe the miraculous stranger.

„- Mister, who taught you to paint so nicely? – asked one of the boys

  • Who ? – responded Markvichka while smiling – Hard work and giftedness makes the painter. A grain of giftedness and a rock of hard work, if you have, you will become a great painter … I’m a village man, the same as you all.
  • Alright – said one of the boys – “I paint too, I always paint, but the horse of Kraly Marko, I’ve made looking like the donkey of Hitar Petar.”

After everyone started laughing, Markvichka as an experienced teacher, took the pencil and started drawing the grazing, nearby horse and donkey. He made the children pull out their notebooks and gave them directions on how to draw the two animals, showing them how to express the differences with a pencil. After that he drew with them the house of Stoian Riazkata, as he didn’t forget to give them homework – everyone to draw their own house by themselves. In the evening, while coming back with the sheep from grazing, Riazkata was surprised by the many people who have gathered in front of his house. He was even more surprised by the reason why – “The same!” he exclaimed, when he sees his home, in the painting by Markvichka.

The artwork “House from the village of Jaltesh” is published, for the first time in 1895, in the issued by the Ministry of national education “A collection for national inventions, science and books”.

Only after 3 years, the prominent artist, comes back to the Gabrovo area, this time to paint a woman with sokay. At that time the specific woman’s garment , forbidden by the Turkish governance in the beginning of the 19th century, is kept only in the distant mountainous villages. For that reason Ivan Markvichka goes to the village of Bozhentsi, hoping to find a model for his artwork. He goes around the streets of the village, stands by the fountain and by the meadow, observes … Disheartened, in the evening he sits in the pub of Andreia Kolev. The curious villagers immediately start asking the wonderous stranger – where he is from and what brings him to their village. At that moment, through the window, Markvichka sees what he had come for – the beautiful and dignified Rada Andreeva Koleva, with water coppers on her shoulders. Not hesitating, the artist goes out and says “I want to paint you with sokay ! ” Worried, the woman responds, that she has to ask her husband for permission. According to the area historian Ilia Gabrovsky, Radas’ husband disapprovingly says: “I don’t allow you to pose for it, because you will die. Who will you leave your two children to…”.The interfearance of the mother in law, made possible for the famous artwork of Markvichka “Woman with sokay” to be painted. The artist was painting Rada Andreeva 3 days and because of the superstitions of her husband, without looking her in the eyes. That’s why in the painting the model is exhibited in profile.

Because of a superstition or not, the portrait of Rada from the village of Bozhentsi has a tragic fate. After its introduction on an exhibition in Sofia, the artwork is purchased by the Ethnographic museum, where it becomes a part of the permanent exposition. During the time of the bombings of Sofia in 1943, a fire starts in the building of the museum and the painting burns.

Nelly Nedeva

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Ivan Barakov

(1951 – 2000)


  In the monthly accent section the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery acquaints its visitors with the magnificent cityscape “Prague” of the famous Gabrovo artist Ivan Barakov.

Ivan Barakov / Barak / was born on April 15, 1951 in Gabrovo. He completed his higher education in 1976 at the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” in the specialty “Mural Painting” under prof. Nikola Gelov. The same year the artist began to participate in regional, national and international exhibitions and workshops in painting: 1990 – Metz (France); 1991 – Paris (France); 1996 – Fulda (Germany); 1999 – Johannesburg (South Africa). There are 10 solo exhibitions in the country (Gabrovo, Dryanovo, Sevlievo) and one solo exhibition in Cologne (Germany), in Thun (Switzerland). Ivan Barakov is the author of 12 murals, two of which are in Switzerland. In his work, the artist has expressed himself in almost all areas of fine and applied arts: painting, drawing, poster, packaging, font, spatial design, panel, mosaic.

The artist’s paintings are in the possession of the National Art Gallery in Sofia, art galleries in Gabrovo, Sevlievo, Burgas, Strazhitsa, as well as in private collections in France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Vietnam, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

In the creative heritage of Ivan Barakov we can trace how the artist paved his way to abstract art, the traditions of which were laid in the early 20th century by Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and other avant-garde artists. The characteristic features in his creative manner are the plasticity of the forms and at the same time their stability. Color plays a very important formative role in Ivan Barakov’s paintings, outlines the composition, creates a sense of volume, gives birth to an emotional feeling. In the subject of his paintings there is a noticeable interest in cultural sites and artifacts from the past: churches, ancient ruins, ancient colossi of the Easter Islands. Human culture and spirituality thus come to the fore in the work of Ivan Barakov.

Of great interest is the artist’s experiments in the 1990s in the field of computer graphics. From these experiments emerged a cycle of abstract compositions, emphasizing the research spirit of the artist, his creative courage.

In the work of Ivan Barakov “Prague” selected by the gallery team, we see one of the narrow streets of the ancient European city. We can feel in the picture the monumentality of the architectural details. This work is from the author’s earlier paintings. Clear stable forms are still noticeable here, the composition is executed in the cubist manner and develops vertically, emphasizing the peculiarities of the urban relief. Again, color plays a formative role, shades intertwine but never mix with each other, which, in turn, emphasizes the volume and depth of the image. The general color, composition and absence of people create to some extent a sense of theatricality and fairytale of the depicted city. At the same time, the artist managed to achieve the special calm atmosphere that radiates the picture.

The work of Ivan Barakov “Prague” can be seen by visitors to Art Gallery “Hristo Tsokev” from December 14, 2021 to January 11, 2022.

Author of the text: Stanislav Goncharov


Veniamin Akudin

(1936 – 2011)

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce, for a monthly accent of November, the painting “Bozhentsi II” by Veniamin Akudin – one of the most prominent artists of the republic of Uzbekistan.

Veniamin Georgievich Akudin was born in 1936, in the town of Mirazchul (Today named Gulistan, rep. Uzbekistan). From 1951 to 1956 the future theatre artist studies at the Republican art school P.P. Beniokov in the city of Tashkent under Mstislav Shtiroskiy (watercolor and graphics), Rachim Achmedov and Nimat Kuziabaev (painting). Following this, he starts studying at the Theatre-art institute A. N. Ostrovskiy (1957 – 1962), where after his graduation, he continues working as a teacher until 1972. Here his teachers are one of the most prominent theatrical artists of Uzbekistan: Vladimir Riftin, Isaac Valdenberg, Diodor Ushakov.

The entire artistic life of Veniamin Akudin is connected to his work as a theatre artist at the Puppet thetre in the city of Tshkent, where he begins in 1961. For many years, he creates tens of scenic images, which find their audience among children and adults. He works in the area of the theatric and film posters, the animation, the book graphics, painting and watercolor. His theatrical decors and puppets are successful not only in Uzbekistan, but also in many foreign countries. While working at the Puppet theatre, as a head artist, Veniamin Akudin strives to restore the national roots of the Uzbek puppet theatre, its folklore motifs and the experience of the national actors and puppeteers.

During the time of the tours of the theatre in many countries around the world, the artist makes sketches and watercolors: from Burma (1972), India (1977), Pakistan, Afganistan (1980), Bulgaria (1982), Poland, Germany, Canada and the USA. Veniamin Akudin is one of the creators of the puppet theatre in Kabul (Afganistan) in 1987.

In 1974, he is granted the title “Honorable figure of the art of Uzbekistan”. From 1962 he is a member of the Union of the artists of the republic. For his creative merits in contribution to the development of the culture and art in 2002, he is awarded with a gold medal of the Academy of arts of Uzbekistan.

In 1982 during the time of the tours of the theatre in Bulgaria, Veniamin Akudin takes part of the International painting plein – air Bozhentsi and paints several wonderful landscapes in his favorite technique – the watercolor “wet over wet” (or “English aquarelle”). In the painting Bozhentsi II, fine nuanced color transition mix together, in a plethora of air. The buildings in the painting are conditional and sink into the nature. The accent is placed exactly upon the athmospheric ocuurences and the way they visually change the landscape. The paper, made especially wet and smashed, which the artist uses strengthens the effext of depth and conveys dynamic and dramatic nature of the image.

The painting by Veniamin Akudin “Bozhentsi II” can be seen by the visitors of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, from the 9th of November, until the 13th of December 2021.

Text by Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Mara Atanasova


“Art has to bring happiness, and joy to the person”

Mara Atanasova

During the month of October, the team of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, has the pleasure to introduce you, for a monthly accent, the painting “Composition – three Bulgarian women”, by Mara Atanasova.

Mara Atanasova was born in Pleven on the 15th of March 1921, to the family of teachers. She spends her childhood and adolescent years in Gabrovo. She graduates from the Aprilov high school. Mara completes her higher education in the National academy of arts in Sofia, in the class of Acad. Dechko Uzunov and Prof. Nikola Kozhuharov. During the Second World War, when the bombings of Sofia begin, she evacuates herself in Gabrovo. Her creative path, she spends as a member of the group of the Gabrovo artists. The first several years, she works at the Gabrovo Drama Theatre “Racho Stoyanov”. She starts participating in all of the exhibitions of the Gabrovo artists. Her first solo exhibition is during 1968 in Gabrovo. From a thorough perspective, Mara Atanasova, has over 50 solo exhibitions in Gabrovo, Sofia, Rouse, Varna, Smolyan and other cities in the country, as well as many participations in exhibitions in France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Romania. In 1988, she takes part in the International biennial in Halle, and during the next year in Bern. Mara Atanasova is the first artist, who arranges an exhibition in the National assembly in 1993. From the 1990s and on,  she and her family move to live permanently in Sofia. Today her paintings, can be found in many private and public galleries around the world, in countries such as Japan, USA, Russia, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland.

Still life, landscape, everyday life scenes, portraits, are the most often encountered genres in the creative work of Mara Atanasova. Characteristic of her are also small and medium sized artworks. Several moments are typical for her artistic style: chamber compositions, simplicity and constructiveness of the drawing, synthetics and a generalization of the plot, interest towards the folklore, the warm and colorful gamma. From the end of the 1980s Mara Atanasova starts to draw using her fingers. As she herself notes, in the interview of Lilly Vopinova (newspaper “Democracy” №68, 15.03.98, p.8), by painting with fingers, she reaches to the level of very clear and fresh tones, and the images acquire a physical volume and materialism, as well.

The female images, are especially noticeable, in the art of Mara Atanasova. In them, the artist strives to transmit the feeling for wisdom, joy, maternity, industriousness. Usually, in her portraits, the artist seeks not so much an individual psychological characteristic, as she does the unique Bulgarian trait as typological self, as national soul, a rich harmony, taking her as far as the iconographic traditions. In such stylistic her painting “Composition – three Bulgarian women” is finished. The artist directs the attention of the viewer toward the finely exemplified national traits. The individual nature of the images in the painting is completely nuanced. The simplicity, the nobility of the soul, the tender femininity of the images, are realized sparingly, in colorful, as well as compositional relation.

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery owns 12 artworks by Mara Atanasova, among which are landscapes, portraits, still life paintings, as well as a painting from her festival cycle, which gives us an idea about the artistic searches of the artist from the different periods.

Author of the text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


For the occasion of 15th of September, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery introduces for monthly accent the artwork “Portrait of Palauzov” by the Gabrovo artist Georgi Kashev.

The oil portrait measuring 85×68 cm. becomes a property of the gallery in 1976, when it is gifted by Library “Aprilov – Palauzov”. It was painted during 1921, as ahead of his signature, the author notes, that the artwork is a copy. Information is missing in the fund of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, about where the original work can be found, as well as the exact reason, which has lead to the painting of a copy in 1921. Due to similar stylistic characteristics with a portrait of Vasil Aprilov, painted in Odessa, by an unknown Russian author, by an order from the close friends circle of the Aprilov’s will, we suppose, that the original portrait of Palauzov is from the same period and the same author.

The painting “Portrait of Palauzov” is exhibited in the gallery and can be seen until the end of the month.

Its author Georgi Kashev was born on 21.09.1879, in Gabrovo. Graduating from the Aprilov high school, he fulfills his father’s wish and enrolls in the higher school of trade in Svishtov. There, it quickly becomes apparent, that Georgi is not going to become a merchant, and after one year the young man is admitted as an emergent student, at the State school of art / today National Academy of Arts/. He graduates in 1903, from one of the first classes of the school, specializing in painting. There is evidence, that due to his good grades, he is awarded with a scholarship and is sent on a specialization in Italy, probably in Florence.

The first landscape artwork, the artist paints, named “The Shivarov bridge in Gabrovo”, is purchased by the school of painting and was exhibited at what was then the National museum. Today it is a property of the National archaeological museum in Sofia.

On an exhibition for the occasion of 10 years, since the founding of the State school of art, Kashev participates with five paintings. By a decision of the then Ministry Council, an amount of money is set aside, for purchases, and a selected commission under the chairmanship of Konstantin Velichkov selects 20 paintings for the fund of the National museum. The painting “Around Mihalevo” by Georgi Kashev is among the chosen artworks and today it is a part of the fund of the National gallery of Arts.

Until the outbreak of the First World War, in which he takes an active part, and rises to the rank of captain, Georgi Kashev is a teacher in painting in the town of Vratsa. There his student is the prominent Bulgarian artist Raiko Aleksiev, who shares, that thanks to Kashev, he has developed a sense for painting. Raiko Aleksiev keeps respect and interest toward the creative work of his first teacher.

Georgi Kashev is among the founders of the “Association of the north Bulgarian artists”, founded on the 2nd of November 1919, in Ruse. He takes an active part in exhibitions in Ruse, Shumen and Sofia, organized by the association.

After the end of the war Georgi Kashev, together with his family, settles in Gabrovo, becoming a teacher in painting at the Aprilov high school, as well as a lecturer in painting and drawing at the technical school. In 1924, during a random accident he is shot in the chest by a student. The doctors do not manage to pull out the bullet and in 1930 he retires due to disability. After the end of his career as a teacher, Georgi Kashev leaves for Sofia, where he dies at the age of 64 years old /24.12.1943/.

During his lifetime the artist paints a dozen of portraits of famous families from Gabrovo and Sofia. His heirs recount, that he has painted live Alexander Stamboliisky, who liked the portrait so much, that he had it put in his office. Kashev paints, his first portrait as a student in 1902, and his model is his uncle Georgi. Today his portraits decorate the expositions, of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, The National museum of education, The National Aprilov high school, as well as the National gallery of Art, and dozens of State bureaus in Sofia.

In Gabrovo, the artist arranges two exhibitions, together with his colleagues Georgi Vasilev and Stefan Kovachev, with whom he maintains close friend’s relations, even after moving to Sofia. Among the circle of close friends, is also another Gabrovo artist and teacher at the high school – Ivan Zahariev, who similarly to Raiko Aleksiev owes his sense for painting to Georgi Kashev.

Besides the rich collection of portraits, Georgi Kashev has left us in heritage several icons at the “Holy Trinity” church, the icon “Saint Paraskeva” in the “St. Ivan” schurch, and a mural upon the dome of the church “St. Mother of God”.

Today the creative work of Georgi Kashev is an occasion to note the patriotic act by Nikolay Palauzov – a revivalist, public figure and education activist.

Nelly Nedeva

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The poetry in the art of Ivan Donkov

In the “Monthly accent” section, the team of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, acquaints its visitors, with a wonderful cityscape by the famous artist from Gabrovo, Ivan Donkov – “Tarnovo – the church St. Constantine and Elena”.

Ivan Lazarov Donkov was born in 1943, in Gabrovo. He graduates from the Aprilov’s high school, after which he studies at the Veliko Tarnovo University of “St.St. Ciryl and Methodius”, specializing in “Painting”. During the span of 30 years Ivan Donkov proves himself, not only as an famous artist, but also as a talented pedagogue. He starts teaching in the school of the Gabrovo neighborhood “Etara”. He was one of the most notable teachers in the secondary school of art in Tryavna, as well as a teacher at the Thological faculty of the Veliko Tarnovo University. His researcher spirit takes him to the deep studies in the area of the techniques and technologies in the visual arts, the technologies for restoration, as well as to work with pigments, grunts, colors, varnishes, connecting liquids and so on, in his atelier. His extensive experience in that area leads to the publishing of the book “Technologies in painting”. This book can be seen as a manual for teaching of the young artists, in it the author traces the different kinds of painting technologies, during the ages.

The artist takes his first steps in the field of art, as early as in his childhood. In an interview for”100 news”, given on the 9th of February 2008, he mentions how he has tried to copy the manner of Konstantin Shtarkelov – the famous Bulgarian artist, aquarelle master. His first big artworks, after the graduation of the Beliko Tarnovo University, are made by Ivan Donkov in Gabrovo, in his co-authorship with the artist Angel Angelov. These are mosaic panes in the factory of “Podem”, the Pioneer house, the EOM “Etara”. The last one turns in a real herald of the complex, symbolizing the hard work and hospitality of the Gabrovo people. As early as the 60s, Ivan Donkov starts to create drawings with charcoal and watercolor. Researching the artistic techniques from the past, the artist experiments with the wax-distemper painting – encaustics.

As a painter, Ivan Donkov possesses the skill to insinuate the contrast and entirety between the close and the distant, between the palpable and the not palpable. The artist has the gift to grade the sounding and the symbolism of the color in exact correlation with the composition and his plan. Such is the painting “Tarnovo – the church St. Constantine and Elena”. The composition in it is subordinated to the vertical rock – church. The feeling of the rock, contrasts with the lightness of the church. In the very colors an elevated spiritual sensation for the earthly and heavenly, is formed. The artist demonstrates, in the painting a rich facture, a colorful exceptionality and a poetic emanation.

During the year of 2000, Ivan Donkov together with his colleague Ivan Denchev, wins a scholarship and stays for one month in the creative base of the Academy of fine arts in Kleinsasen, close to the German town of Fulda. This becomes possible, with the active cooperation of Fany Parvova, who lives in Fulda, and works there as an art manager.

A large retrospective exhibition of Ivan Donkov, was organized in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, during the month of February 2009, after the death of the artist. A total of 90 artworks are introduced: drawings, graphics, watercolors, paintings. A documentary, about him  is filmed, created with the support of friends of the artist and Gabrovo cable.

The paintings of Ivan Donkov, are in possession of galleries and private collections in Germany, USA, Switzerland. The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery owns five paintings of the artist.

The artwork by Ivan Donkov “Tarnovo – the church of St. Constantine and Elena” can be seen by the visitors of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, from the 10th of August until the 13th of September 2021.

Author of the text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


In the monthly accent section, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery Gabrovo, aquaints its visitors, with the artwork “Portrait of Ivan Koev” /1941/, by the artist Boris Mitov (11th of January 1891 – 6th of July 1963), descendant of the famous revival family Mitov, from Stara Zagora. His father is the prominent Bulgarian painter prof. Anton Mitov, who is with an exceptional contribution toward the development of the Bulgarian visual arts. He is among the founders of the first association of Bulgarian artists – the Association for maintaining of art in Bulgaria, among the founders of the State school of painting /today National Academy of Arts/, a publisher and editor of the first Bulgarian printed edition about art – “Art”. A staunch defender of the academic principle in painting, Anton Mitov is a main ideologist of the “modernization” and “Europeanization” of the Bulgarian art, at the end of the 19th century. His son Boris Mitov shows talent as early as a child and proves it until the end of his life. His creative aesthetic is thoroughly influenced by the academism and his fathers’ influence is clearly exemplified in that. He graduates from his higher education in the class of prof. Ivan Markvichka – a close friend and like-minded person of Anton Mitov. During 1911 – 1914 he continues his education in the Academy of fine arts in Paris, being enrolled in the course of prof. Fernan Kormon, the one under whom, studied also Tolouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh m Emil Bernard, Luis Anketen. In the atelier of prof. Kormon, two other Bulgarian artists, also specialize – Dimitar Giudzhenov and Nikola Kozhuharov. During the First world war until 1918 he is a military artist. In 1924 he becomes a teacher in painting, at the Academy, and during 1929 he defends a professors’ degree. He remains to teach painting and drawing until 1959. Under his guidance, various generations of young artists are formed. His students are also the four graduates of the Aprilov high school, who have become famous, in the university circles, as “the Gabrovo colony” – Georgy Doinov, Dragan Nemtsov, Dora Boneva and Hristo Iavashev.

The art of Boris Mitov is characterized with realism of the perception and a high artistism of the plastic execution. He paints still life paintings, landscapes, nude bodies, portraits. The artist belongs to the third generation of artists of free Bulgaria, who defend the academism in our art. During the 20s of the 20th century, Bulgaria and the world relieve themselves from the nightmare of the First world war. The mourning people, who has gone through the drama of the national division and its first national crisis needs beauty … It needs faith and strength, in order to rise again. Namely here, it seeks inspiration and Boris Mitov. Landscapes – reflecting our beautiful nature, wonderful still – life paintings, and delicacy being transparent from nude bodies, light and warm colors – this is the painting style of Boris Mitov. A beauty of the soul, dignity and formalism are the psychological characteristics of the portraits of intellectuals, who have won him the glory of the best Bulgarian portrait master. The assimilated, as a sense of the World, academism allows him to keep a distance and delicacy regarding his models. Besides the plastic achievements, this gives his work a clear social position.

The artistic method, which teaches him to be distanced and straightforward, allows him to preserve himself, as much as it is possible, in the changes, which have come after the ninth of September 1944. From this moment forward, the art of Mitov is in a state of stillness. He doesn’t succeed in adapting to the new aesthetic, which denies the academism and the European culture. The forced “socio-realism” suppresses the creative impulses of the artist. The upbringing and aristocratism help him live through the cultural differences with the new governing power, from which he has felt fear. In an interview for the newspaper “100 news” /№16, 8th of March 1991/ Georgy Doinov recounts: “I remember this episode. Back then, the impressionists were denied. Someone had brought a reproduction of Van Gogh. Professor Mitov, very pedantic and fearful, showted: “Take this degrading art away from here ! They will throw us all out of the Academy !”

His friends and old people from Sofia remember his sophisticated outward appearance, his upbringing and accuracy, which are difficult to fit into the politicized and ruined relations from the 50s of the past century. They remember his walks across the boulevard “Tzar Osvoboditel”, which he used to ironically call – “Tzaria”.

He remains in the history of the Bulgarian painting, as one of our best portrait masters. Boris Mitov is the only artist who has received the “privilege” to paint Georgy Dimitrov live himself. All of the other portrait of the “Chief” were painted from a picture.

The artwork” Portrait of Ivan Koev” /1941/ showing a honorable man in a thoughtful and lightly theatrical pose, indicating that the model realizes the posing not only in front of the artist, but also in front of time can be seen up until 10th of August at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

Nelly Nedeva

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Folklore and contemporary motifs

in the abstract art of Iliya Zhelev

  In June 2021, the “Hristo Tsokev” Art Gallery has the pleasure to present you the painting by Iliya Zhelev “Garden”, for a monthly accent of June.

Iliya Zhelev is one of the leading contemporary Bulgarian artists, who is well known not only within the country, but also for the audience in Western Europe – Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The artist was born on July 20, 1961 in Plovdiv. He graduated from the Arts High School in Smolyan and the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. St. Cyril and Methodius ”, in 1987, majoring in Painting. After university, Iliya Zhelev began teaching aesthetics at the National High School of Applied Arts “Tryavna School” and was accepted into the Group of Gabrovo Artists (UBA). With other Gabrovo artists, he began participating in exhibitions not only in Gabrovo but also around the country. Thus, for example, in April 1994 there was a joint exhibition of Iliya Zhelev, Nikolai Tsvetanov and Stanislav Ivanov in the gallery “Rayko Alexiev”, in Sofia. During this time, Iliya Zhelev began to combine in his work the ideas of minimalism and abstractionism in European art with the traditions of Bulgarian folklore and history. In the interview given to “100 Vesti” (№67) on June 14, 1993, the artist explained: “… For the generation with which I graduated from the University of Veliko Tarnovo in 1987, the most important thing was to oppose socialist realism … Combining minimalism with folk abstraction was the most direct way to get rid of traditional forms. This way of painting gave an outlook to the youngest artists.

As early as the early 1990s, Iliya Zhelev began to build his path in the contemporary Western European art space by participating in solo exhibitions and art festivals in Germany, and later – in Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Luxembourg. In 2008 he started participating in exhibitions and art fairs in Turkey. The presence of Iliya Zhelev in the early 1990s in the Western European art space allowed, to a certain extent, the opening of the way for Bulgarian contemporary art in the pan-European cultural context.

The abstract painting composition “Garden” was finished in 1993 and refers to the early creative period of the artist. In it we can see the classic plot for the author with the connection between the folklore motifs from the tradition of Bulgarian textiles, drawings resembling the ancient cave images and the general abstract manner of the performance. The artist painted a kind of garden of memories, where plots from the past are woven into a beautiful and colorful picturesque carpet. The colors layer on top of each other, creating an interesting and almost magical sense of depth.

In his later work, Iliya Zhelev began working with other plots. His paintings are particularly interesting, in the way he explores the living fabric of the big city of New York and the images of contemporary world pop culture. It is important for the artist to maintain his style. The colorful squares of the Bulgarian folklore tradition resemble pixels of the modern digital world, in which, as it was done centuries ago, important information about human culture is encoded.

Today, Iliya Zhelev’s works are in the funds of some of the largest galleries not only in Bulgaria but also in Western Europe, as well as in private collections around the world.

In June, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery provides the opportunity for the Gabrovo audience to get intouch with a sample of the early work of Iliya Zhelev. Everyone is welcome!

Text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


On the 17th of May, we mark the day of Gabrovo, and by tradition the team of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery – Gabrovo, introduces authors, who have connected their creative or life path with the town. The list is long, not only because we have the fortune to live in one of the most picturesque areas of Bulgaria, and because Hristo Tsokev, one of the first Bulgarian painters, who have received an academic education and fulfilled the transition between church and secular painting, was born in Gabrovo, but also because the first secular school in the country was founded here. Naturally the Gabrovo high school turns into an attractive centre for almost all artists from the end of the 19th century, who have graduated from the art academies in Torino, Munich, Vienna…

It is known for a fact, that Hristo Tsokev was appointed as the first teacher in sketching and drawing on the 15th of November 1879, in the Gabrovo men’s high school. There are numerous testimonies about the hard work and diligence, which the artist exemplifies as a teacher. Before his passing in 1883, he leaves an inheritance to the high school, not only his personal book collection, but also all of his albums with reproductions, textbooks and guidebooks, which he has brought with his return from Moscow. As an argument he indicates, that it is extremely important that the lessons be led at a high academic level. Probably, namely this heritage, received as a testament, predefines the fate of the cabinet of the school. Following are the teachers Ivan Dimitrov, who has studied in Bucharest and specialized in Paris, Hristo Kehaiov, who has graduated from an university in Vienna, Georgi Mitov, Ivan Marinov and Petar Dimchev – all of whom had graduated from the Royal Academy “Albertina” in Torino, Italy. Georgi Mitov, for example, lays the foundations of the collection of gypsum castings. He leaves as gifts those, which he has brought from his study in Torino. The traditions, in that respect, continue also during the 20th century, as the largest testament to that are the classes of the Aprilov’s high school, which have given to Bulgaria, one of the most – talented contemporary Bulgarian artists – Dora Boneva, Dragan Nemtsov, Iva Hadzhieva and their classmate, who has become world – famous Hristo Iavashev – Christo.

In the forum of “Monthly accent”, we have the pleasure to introduce you the artwork “Old house from Gabrovo” by the artist Boris Popov, who has led, together with Ivan Zahariev, the famous class “Atelier” in the office for painting of the Aprilov’s high school in the period of 1948 – 1953.

“The Aprilov’s high school – recounts Dragan Nemtsov during 2009 in an interview for “100 news” – back then there was a great office in painting – a huge one ! Inside it, there was a whole gallery with magnificent reproductions from paragons of world art. Copies – gypsum castings from the Renaissance, Michelangelo, Donatello, anatomy models, tripods, the likes of which can only be found in the Academy. All in all a wonderful conditions, and incredible teachers. This is the most decisive moment and Hristo Iavashev confirms it many times, not by chance. The teachers constantly fostered us to paint.

Boris Popov was born on the 13.05.1909 in the village of Konak, in the Targovishte area. During 1933, he graduates Painting in the Sofia Academy of Arts, under prof. Tseno Todorov. He remains in Sofia until 1948, when he arrives in Gabrovo.

“It was the year of 1948 – Iva Hadzhieva recounts – We were marking the 100 year anniversary from the birth of Hristo Botev. A whole month before that, before the 6th of January, our teacher /Boris Popov – n.a./ was preparing us for a public show – a solemn meeting of the Gabrovo community in the salon of the theatre. We were 5 children, of which four, I, Hristo /Hristo Iavashev – Christo – n.a./, Dragan Nemtsov, Dora Boneva,became artists, with Emilia Popova an architect, who had to paint in concert fashion Botev and his comrades under the sounds of renaiisance songs, sung by the choir and orchestra of the Aprilov high school. During the time of our preparation every day our teacher drew us lightly with a pencil on a transparent paper the portraits, and we had to demonstrate a brave painting by memory, with a brush and a black tempera paint, as the goal was to learn them by heart, by the time the celebration day comes. Naturally, the core of this painting required for the sequence to be followed, “from the general to the detail” – first the general contour of the head, and then , allocation of the space of the face and later – the details. We were preparing so diligently , that years later I could still draw Rakovski by heart. The solemn celebration day came, for our pleasant surprise. Popov, however, again had drawn, with pencil the portraits, so that we don’t make a mistake, and despite of that we were so scared, that our hands were shaking and the contours were becoming a zig-zag lines or dotted lines, and Hristo began the portrait of Benkovsky from the ear, which he drew in a complete detail, after which he drew the general oval.” /”The child Hristo”. 100 news, issue 125, 1,07,2020/

In the class of Boris Popov for application to the Academy of Arts, the famous “Gabrovo colony” is preparing, as Boris Popov himself calls his students – Georgi Doinov, Dora Boneva, Dragan Nemtsov, Iva Hadzhieva and their classmate, who has become world – famous Hristo Iavashev – Christo. After 1953, the artist starts living in Veliko Tarnovo, where his students are Ivan Uzunov, Krasimir Rusev, Milko Bozhkov and many others, who are now an established contemporary authors.

In his work Boris Popov sticks to the watercolor technique of Nikola Marinov, with its transparency and lightness. The artwork being introduced for a “monthly accent” is completed namely in that characteristic for the author style. Using an aquarelle technique, Boris Popov paints several houses, in one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods of Gabrovo, the so called “6th area”. The basic accent in the painting falls upon the large wooden house – symbol of a passing epoch, emitting a cultural heritage. Its natural essence, asymmetric structure, the roughness of the walls – all this contrasts with the building, located at the background, as well as with the arrangement and single nature of the architectural solutions. The way, in which the transparency and the lightness of the colorful transitions of the aquarelle technique, allow the artist to solve the problem of the merging of the natural colors with the colorful gamma of the old house, is interesting. The colors of one of its facades reflect the colorful crowns of the trees, which by itself underscores, the natural essence of the house.

The artwork can be seen at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, until 7th of June 2021.

Text compiled by Nelly Nedeva and Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The artistic world of Stefka Aroio

During the month of April 2021, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, has the pleasure to introduce you, for a monthly accent, the painting by Stefka Aroio “Iva and Eva”.

Stefka Aroio was born in 1951, in the town of Primorsko. In the period of 1972 – 1977, she studied “Painting” at the National Academy of Arts under prof. Dobry Dobrev. During the period of 1978 – 1982 she is a member of the Atelier of the young artist /AYA/. From 1982 she is a member of the UBA.

The creative path of the talented Bulgarian artist begins at the end of the 70s of the past century. This is a very interesting period in the Bulgarian visual arts, which is characterized by wider and more brash creative searching, as well as a striving for the creation of a new, plastic expressive language, with a strong interest toward the examination of the internal psychological thematic.

The painting “Iva and Eva” is finished during the year of 1980, and it participates in a collective exhibition in Sofia, in 1981, from which it was purchased.

The plot of this artwork introduces a speechless, and at the same time, tense dialogue between two women. They are looking at each other, carefully, as if they are watching their own reflection in the mirror. One of the two women, hands a painting, and the other stops her with a hand gesture. We can infer, that this “dialogue” sounds like a contemplation of the artist, about the creative art as a whole, as well as about the freedom of self – expression…

In the art of Stefka Aroio, one can notice a striving toward a synthesis between personal and “hyper-personal”, between the direct contact with nature and the associative generalization.

In the period from the end of the 70s up until the mid 80s, the artist manages to take part in more than thirty Collective Art Exhibitions.

From the mid 80s to the end of the 90s Stefka Aroio works as a custodian in the Art gallery for foreign art “St. St. Ciryl and Methodius” in Sofia.

Her guest visits in Germany (1987 – 89, Karlsruhe), France (1984 – Paris, 1992 – 93, Grenoble) and Spain (1995-96 Bilbao, 1999-2006, Getcho – Algorta), play a very important role in her artistic development. The creative atmosphere and artistic traditions of these three countries, make an impact on both her view of the world, as well as on her creative style. Her long stay in Northern Spain is of a particularly huge significance. The poeticized nature in its wholeness finds its place in the plots of the paintings of Stefka Aroio.

During the last years, several large solo exhibitions of the artist take place: year 2000 – gallery “La Brocha” – Bilbao, Spain, 2011 – gallery “Sirak Skitnik”, Sliven – retrospective exhibition, 2013 – gallery “Shipka 6”, UBA – Sofia, 2014 – gallery “Arte” on “Rakovsky” 183 A street – Sofia.

The National gallery of arts in Sofia, as well as most of the city galleries in the country, posses paintings and drawings by Stefka Aroio. Many of her paintings can be found in private collections in Germany, Spain, France, Japan, Great Britain and Bulgaria.

During the month of April, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery gives the opportunity to everyone in Gabrovo, to get in touch with this sample from the early work of Stefka Aroio. Everyone is welcome !

Text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The spring salon, which is organized every year by the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, has already become a good tradition and creative platform for maintaining the professional, creative development of women artists from the entire country.

As early as the 1930s, after a professional association of the women artists is organized in 1928, the format of the artistic exhibitions with entirely female participation manages to keep its relevance in the country. From this point of view, the salon is organized in order to underscore how important the acceptance in the artistic traditions is.

The first edition of National exhibition “Spring salon” takes place in the art gallery during 2019. A total of 62 authors, participate. The two artists who are declared winners after the jury’s decision are Denitsa Dakova from Sofia with the sculpture “Decade”/triptych/ and Dimka Stavreva from Blagoevgrad with the painting “Night”.

Denitsa Dakova is one of the most prominent contemporary authors, who are working with woodcarving and sculpture. At the same time, she also works as a researcher in that field at the National Academy of Arts.

Dimka Stavreva works in the area of painting. She is from the young generation of the Bulgarian artists who have their own recognizable style, and at the same time, provoking new directions in their creative searching. In 2008 she graduates from South-Western University “Neophite Rilsky” in Blagoevgrad, under prof. Ignat Ignatov. From 2016, she is a member of the UBA, section “Painting” and actively participates in the plein air and exhibition work in the country.

In the second edition of the Spring salon a total of 95 authors with 149 artworks. The awards are granted to two artists respectively: Natasha Noeva with the painting “Distant shore” and Violeta Apostolova with the graphics “Faith I” and “Faith II”. Apart from that, an additional award (participation in painting plein air “Bozhentsi”) is granted to Tsveta Petrova for the graphic work “Antique… Not so Antique III”. All three artists live and work in Sofia.

In 2015 Natasha Noeva receives a Masters degree specializing in “Art history” at NAA, and is currently a doctoral student in the Institute for art research, in the Bulgarian Academy of Science in Sofia. During the last several years she actively participates in exhibitions and competitions on a national level. Her main professional interests are in the area of contemporary Bulgarian art (painting, sculpture and graphics), theory and art critique.

Violeta Apostolova works in the field of photography and print graphics. She draws covers for books. She has a Ph. D. in the “Visual arts” department of the Sofia University working on a topic, which researches the connection between the text and image, as well as the borders between the search of oneself and faith. From 2016 she is a member of the Union of the Bulgarian Artists, section “Grephics and illustration”. She participates in graphic exhibitions in Spain, England, Serbia, Mexico, Hungary, Austria, Croatia and other.

Tsveta Petrova works mainly in the field of printed graphics (classical techniques and computer graphics). In 2017 she defends a doctoral thesis in the area of digital graphics, and from 2019 she is a teacher in “Printed graphics” at the department of “Visual arts” at the Sofia University. From 2014 Tsveta Petrova is a member of the Union of the Bulgarian Artists, section “Graphics and illustration”. She has a creative interest in the field of paper art, design, bookplate, the author book and typography. She participates in regional, national and international exhibitions and is distinguished with awards for her work.

The interest toward the exhibition remains, ever so larger, as this year already 139 artists will take place in the salon. The idea of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery is for a wide introduction of the creative searches of the contemporary Bulgarian artists, allowing the viewer to get to know both the already prominent authors, as well as more beginner artists. For the artists themselves, the exhibition is a platform for a more liberal self-expression and creative experimentation.

The opening and declaring of the winners will take place on the 12th of March 2021, on floor 3, at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During the 70s of the 20th century, the Bulgarian art is within the iron ideological and aesthetic grab of the totalitarian socio-cultural system, completely subordinated to the postulates of the socialist realism.

The Bulgarian society lives through a period of forced cultural isolation. Consequently, it is very interesting, how in 1977, the artwork “Sky and Earth” by David Peretz , which bears a sense of lyricism, is admitted to the fund of the gallery. The painting measuring 62X92 cm., is an abstract composition, finished with mixed technique, and it is in a complete dissonance with the imposed dogmas for realism and imagery in the socialist art.

This was the fact, which provoked us to introduce exactly this artwork – “Sky and earth”, for a monthly accent, with which to mark the 115 years anniversary of the birth of the popular Bulgarian artist David Peretz, who was born on the 19th of February 1906 in Plovdiv.

During 1926 he, together with Vasil Barakov and Zlatio Boiadzhiev, is a part of the course in painting, of the company atelier “Duga”, owned by Geo Mirchev. There exactly, the “Baratzite” is “born” – the only artistic group in Bulgaria, provoked entirely by the aesthetic searching of the authors. The name “Baratzite” is given by another prominent painter, from Plovdiv – Tsanko Lavrenov. They also share common ideas regarding the development of the contemporary Bulgarian art, and are also united in the Association of the southern Bulgarian artists, and later in the Association of the new artists as well.

The friendship of David Peretz with Vasil Barakov and Zlatio Boiadzhiev, continues further in the Academy of arts /1927 – 1933/, where the share a common home. Together they study, starve and struggle to earn some money, from writing of advertisements and painting of company signs.

“Zlatio Boiadzhiev’s son – Georgi Boiadzhiev, recounts, that sometimes, the three friends broke the signs of some stores. A week after, as if randomly, the most eloquent out of the them – David Peretz, walked by and made the owner pay attention, that the sign is missing, and offered his services. Hired for the job, he called Vasil and Zlatio to help him.” /Exerpt from “Encyclopedia of Plovdiv”, author: Bozhidar Totev/

From 1931, to his settling in Paris, he actively participates in all group art exhibitions in Bulgaria.

The first public representation of the artist, after the Academy, is in 1934, when he exhibits his paintings in the “Preslav” hall. For the first time he shows, only paintings of his, on an exhibition in “COOP” gallery, in Sofia. During 1936, he visits the Netherlands, France and Germany.

In 1938, he marries his wife Iza, who is his companion and muse, until the end of his life. The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, owns an exceptional portrait of her, from 1946, which is defined by the critics, as a peak of the portrait painting of Peretz.

The second World war changes completely the life and creative path of the artist.

In 1940, based on the ban, listed in the change of the law project for defense of the nation, David Peretz loses the right to be a member of the Union of the associations of the artists in Bulgaria. Between 1943 – 1944, he is sent to the concentration camp “Tashboaz”.

In 1947 Peretz wins a scholarship for a specialization in Paris, and works in the atelier of the great French artist and pedagogue Andre Lot. After a short stay in Israel, together with his family, he leaves Bulgaria in 1948 and settles in Paris.

From 1950, a new period in the art of David Peretz, starts. Two years later he is already a laureate of the award of Israel, and after 5 more years, he receives a gold medal of the Paris municipality for the landscape “Pales Royal”. Since then, until his passing, he has many more participations in exhibitions.

During 1977, he arranges a large Jubilee exhibition in Bulgaria. The exposition is presented in Sofia, his hometown of Plovdiv, and by the insisting of the chairman of the Union of the Artists – Svetlin Rusev in Gabrovo.

David Peretz is initially surprised by the choice of Gabrovo, but thanks to the firm position of Svetlin Rusev, the exhibition here is opened. After his visit in our town, the meeting with the audience and the acquaintance with Gabrovo artists and their work, Peretz shares that Gabrovo is the most logical choice after Sofia and Plovdiv. The exhibited artworks span from a period of 43 years. Included in the exposition, is also the oldest painting by the artist finished before this 43 year period. Represented are also, the newest, some of  which still unsigned works of his, but nevertheless the main accent, falls onto his so called “Paris period”, characterized by lyrical abstraction.

The painting “Sky and Earth”, which we are pleased to introduce you, for a monthly accent of February, dates from 1975, and is a wonderful example for the freedom of the creative development of this amazing artist. Thanks to the decision of Svetlin Rusev, 4 artworks are now kept in the fund of our gallery

Nely Nedeva

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The cityscape in the artworks by Nikifor Tsonev (1928-2003)

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce, for a monthly accent of January, the painting “White house” by Nikifor Tsonev – one of the most famous artists of the town of Ruse.

Nikifor Tsonev was born on the 9th of October 1928, in the village of Neikovtsi in the Tryavna area. He works as a theatre artist, in the period of 1954 – 1960, in Ruse. From 1961 he participates in all group exhibitions there. He becomes a member of the UBA during 1963. One of the founders of the Association of the Ruse artists, and its creative secretary for many years. In the years of 1972 and 1979, he is distinguished with the orders of “St. St. Kiril and Methodius” – II degree and I degree, respectively.

During 2018 the Ruse art gallery organizes an exhibition of the artist, dedicated to the 90 year anniversary of his birth. Included in the exposition were artworks from his different creative periods – self-portraits, portraits, landscapes and still life paintings.

Nikifor Tsonev leaves a significant creative heritage, in which the still life and poetic, tender landscapes, take an important place.

Researchers of the history of art note, that the 1970s of the 20th century, are distinguished as one of the most conducive periods for the development of the Bulgarian architectural landscapes.

The artists from the 70s, felt more at ease to make diverse experiments, in whose work, the creative goals come first, and the means of expression obey the desire for achievement of maximum inspiration for the viewer. The experiments with colors, shapes and compositions, become more brave and significantly more diverse.

The cityscapes by Nikifor Tsonev, along with their plastic variations, monumentality, chamber and colorful softness, take an important place in the common artistic development of the visual art in Bulgaria during this period.

The painting “White house” dates from the year of 1974 and thus can be ascribed exactly in the period of the flourishing of the architectural landscape in the Bulgarian visual arts.

In the artwork one can observe monumentality of the forms and houses, as well as compositional chamber nature. Only with several lines, the artist draws the basis of the landscape. The houses in the centre are stable and conditional. More likely the accent in the painting regards to the unification of the natural landscape and the architecture. The reserved type of coloring adds to the symbiosis, underscoring conditionality and chamber nature, in the composition.

Text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Dianko Kolev



   For the occasion, of the marking of the 160 years jubilee of Gabrovo as a town, the „Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you, for a monthly accent of December, the painting “Peackock”, by one of the most famous Gabrovo artists – Dianko Kolev.

Dianko Kolev was born in the town of Plachkovtsi, in 1946. He completes his secondary education in the Technical school for ceramics and glass in the capital. He receives a diploma from the National academy of arts “Nikolay Pavlovich” – Sofia, specializing in mural painting. From 1978, he is a teacher in painting at the middle art school for applied arts – Tryavna, and from 1990 to 2010, he is its headmaster.

From the end of the 90s, he is a chairman and a member of the management council of club “Open society” – Gabrovo, member of the management council of Association “Crazy-youngsters”, member of Club “Friends of Belgium” and of association “Humor of the nations”.

He is an author of mural panes in Gabrovo, and of ten solo exhibitions in Sofia, Gabrovo, Pleven, Troyan and Notville – Luzerne (Switzerland). He participates in more than 35 general exhibitions, here and abroad and in prestigious symposiums in painting. He was a member of the UBA, section “Painting”, as well as a carrier of honorable certificates of the Ministry of Culture, for contribution to the development and popularization of the Bulgarian culture (1997 and 2005), of annual awards of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, handed by the Gabrovo municipality (1997, 2000 and 2006, 2012), as well as a silver plaque for small plastic from the International biennial – Gabrovo.

For the occasion of the large retrospective exhibition of the artist, which took place in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in May 2014, the author’s son – Anton Kolev gave an interview for the Gabrovo newspaper “100 news”. He marked several important aspects, which are defining the creative self-reliance of his father. The first and foremost is the synthesis of the spirit and matter in the work of the artist. The spirit of Dianko Kolev appears in cleaned to stylized landscapes, portraits, abstract forms.

In the same time, the son defines the most important creative periods, of his father. The first one, is influenced by the academic drawing with monochrome portraits, in which the author captures the momentary sensation of the model, or the everyday situations. During the second period, the artist demolishes the two – dimensionality of the canvas, in his paintings, which are beginning to look more like sculptures or reliefs. His third period is a time for natural paintings with the colors of the dry pastel. This technique, which required a lot of hard work, becomes one of the artists’ favourite. At that time Dianko Kolev wanted to reach such a synthesis, so that he paints a landscape with one line. Through the synthesis of space and color, he achieves a new outlook, with a deep philosophical contemplation. The fourth and final stage of the work of the artist, is characterized, by his son, as a synthesis. In it, the ideas and details, of the first there stages are present, but the form is finally brought to a symbol.

The painting “Peacock” was created in 1988, and it refers most likely to the first stage of the work of Dianko Kolev, according to the proposed period  breakdown, by his son. In the painting, one can still see figurativeness and material balance, both in the image of the woman, as well as her clothes. And still, the realism of the image decreases. The multi-colored scarf, attracting the attention of the viewer, is solved with bright abstract stains, from which the grayish, greenish font stands out, giving an accent, in the same time on the face of the model. The profile, of the face of the woman is also solved with a large degree of conditionality, but thanks to the colors, the artist manages to reflect also a feeling of the cold weather: the face is in a cold gamma, only on the neck and the mouth remain pink accents, bringing a livelily hood. The image is thoroughly plastic, soft. This softness, makes a transition, from the figurativeness, to the abstract, in the composition of the painting.

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has 15 artworks by Dianko Kolev, from his different creative periods, which gives us a broad idea, about the artistic searches of the author.

Text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery team, is pleased to introduce you, for a monthly accent of November, the graphic work “Mother I” by the famous Gabrovo artist Ilia Pashov.

Ilia Rachev Pashov was born in Gabrovo in the year of 1938. He graduates from the National Academy of Arts in Sofia during 1968, specializing in illustration under the awarded “People’s artist” prof. Veselin Staikov, and prof. Petar Chuklev.

He returns to Gabrovo, and from 1970,  starts working for the Drama theatre as an executive artist. Later, from 1984, he starts working in Sofia, at the publishing house of “Bulgarian trade unions” magazine, where he remains until its closure in 1989. He then continues as a lithographer at the Graphics base of the Union of Bulgarian Artists.

He has illustrated the books “Young man with a golden shirt” by Asen Raztsvetnikov, “A white sheet of paper” by Ivan Radoev, “My Neanderthal” by Ianko Stanoev, “Everything is” by Michail Filipov, “The hearts’ gardens” by Ivanka Pavlova, “Letters” by Katerina Ilincheva and other.

From 1970, he participates in the national, international and specialized exhibitions, organized by the UBA, he also participates personally in International graphics biennials. He is a member of the UBA from 1976.

During 1975, he receives first place award from Group Art Exhibition – Gabrovo. In 1983, he is granted the order of “1300 years Bulgaria”.

He makes two solo exhibitions in Sweden. In 1991 – gallery Paepkegarden, STROMSTAD – where he also receives a distinction for a landscape, with an architectural motif. There again, in “Gallery 88”, he opens a second exhibition, simultaneously with the first one. His works receive a huge interest from the Swedish audience.

During 1993, he specializes in lithography in Sofia, under Dzheif Spiiml – a famous professional, guest from the institute in the town of Tamarind – USA.

In 1998, he organizes his own lithography exhibition in Warsaw.

Ilia Pashov often becomes inspired by poetry. The verses unlock his imagination, and usually the basic feeling finds its graphic expression, in a fine drawing or image detail, which had appeared in a particular moment, in front of the glance of the poet.

In his early works, the artist paints mainly common human categories – love, beauty, motherhood. His artworks, finished with a rich lyricism and tenderness, appear as a contemplation about our existence, about the connections between the past and the future. In his later artworks several big themes with philosophical meaning are being developed, which are united in cycles: the autobiographical topic, the man and the world, the man and death, the vision about the outer world, etc.

Most characteristic of him, is the cycle “Changes” (the man and the world), which consists of about ten lithography artworks on diverse topics. More precisely – with overflowing and intertwining motifs, among which are the age and the aging of people, the character and its reflection upon the face of the person. Images of famous people, can also be spotted – Churchill, Nixon and others, who have changed the world and something in every contemporary person, as well as in the artist himself. His artworks from the cycle “Changes” from the years of 2001, 2004, 2007 have participated in the biennials of graphics in Varna and the triennials of graphics in Sofia.

His artworks are a property of art galleries in Sofia, Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnovo, Pleven, Dobrich and other, and also private properties of collectors in Italy, France, England, USA, Sweden, Japan and other.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Georgi Minchev Doinov


The human spirit expressed with stone

  During the marking of the 160th jubilee of the town of Gabrovo, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, has the pleasure to introduce you, for monthly accent, the artwork “Head of Emanoil Manolov” by one of the most popular sculptors from Gabrovo – Georgi Doinov.

The life of Georgi Minchev Doinov, as well as the larger part of his artistic expressions are connected to the town of Gabrovo and the Gabrovo area. The future sculptor, graduates from the Aprilov high school. After his graduation he enrolls in the ceramics technical school, at Iskar station, Sofia. After one semester, Georgi Doinov is admitted, without exam at the Academy of Arts, in the class of the famous sculptor Prof. Marko Markov.

Immediately after graduating from the Academy (1959), Doinov enters the artistic life, actively, with his own creative searches in different areas: monumental sculpture, portrait, small satirical plastic, mono-figure and multi-figure compositions. Characteristic moments in the artworks by Doinov, are the seeking of moonlit shapes, dynamic, movement, constructive emphasis and factorial abundance. This dynamic and movement of the figures, develop even further in his late works, imposing even larger influence upon the viewer.

After graduating from the Academy, Georgi Doinov returns to his hometown, starts working as a freelancer, and after several years he occupies the profession of a teacher in sculpture, at the Children’s school of arts “Emanoil Manolov”. As a teacher at this school, Georgi Doinov unravels the secrets of composition, perspective, light and shadow, the work with volumes, day after day, in front of the future sculptors.

Georgi Doinov is a constant participant in the exhibitions of the group of UBA – Gabrovo, as well as in national exhibitions. In 1977, he wins first prize for satirical plastic at the international biennial in Gabrovo. Two years later, he wins third prize for sculpture (“Head of Vasil Aprilov”) at the national teachers’ exhibition – Sofia.

Among his sculptures and open-air compositions are four figures of the bridge in the town of Tryavna (next to the St. George church), symbolizing “The Slavery”, “The Awakening”, “The Struggle” and “Freedom”, with the characteristic for the author plastic expression. The frescos on the clock tower, the municipal council building, the sculptural composition in the yard of the high school “Dr. N.  Vasiliady”, the monument of Apriltsy (dedicated to the April rebellion) in the village of Batoshevo, are also preserved in good condition.

The portrait takes an important place in the creative work of Georgi Doinov.  In it, he manages to recreate the individual character of the model and its state, in a very convincing way. The exact outside resemblance is not enough for the sculptor. He sets himself free from everything, that’s secondary, in order to underscore the most – important thing – the spiritual life of the person he makes portrait of, their emotion and thought. Such is the portrait of the famous composer, creator of the first Bulgarian opera (“Poor woman”) – Emanoil Manolov. The head of the composer is finished with stone – the most-preferred material by Doinov. The sculptor, puts an accent on the look of Manolov, not towards the viewer or the outside world, but on the contrary, towards his internal experiences, the process of intellectual and creative reasoning. Spirituality, liveliness, anxiety, nobility are all the type of qualities we can find in the portrait work of Georgi Doinov. The sculptor strives, to uncover the psychological depth and the intellectual power of the model.

In the fund of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, there are a total of 18 sculptures by Georgi Doinov.

We are inviting everyone, who is interested in the art and history of Gabrovo, to get to know closely, the work of this wonderful author.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


For a monthly accent of September, the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery chose the painting “Portrait of an elderly woman”, created in 1911, by the Gabrovo artist Stefan Kovachev. The painting measuring 80×56 cm. is finished with oil paint.

Stefan Kovachev was born on the 23rd of October 1871, in the village of Batoshevo /Sevlievo region/, in the family of a blacksmith, from which, his surname is derived. He has two brothers – Ivan, who remains to live in the village and Denio, who emigrates in Russia around the year 1910. There he graduates, from a university, specializing in natural sciences. In Moscow, where he remains until the end of his life, he becomes a teacher and creates a family.

Stefan Kovachev, receives his primary education at his home village, and in 1893 he graduates from the Aprilov high school. At that time, Hristo Kehaiov, from gabrovo who has graduated specializing in arts in Vienna, as well as the author of our national anthem – Tsvetan Radoslavov, were teachers in painting there. The solid preparation he received in school, allowed the young painter to work as a teacher. During 1903, he finishes higher education at the State school of arts in Sofia, in the class of Yaroslav Veshin. In 1910, he goes on a specialization in the town of Liege, Belgium.

During the First World War, Stefan Kovachev serves in eight  infantry Tundzhian division, as a military artist. Three watercolor landscapes of Ohrid, from this period, are being kept in the fund of the gallery.

After a long time of service, as an art teacher, in the Aprilov hogh school, Stefan Kovachev retires in 1930.

He arranges several solo exhibitions, in Gabrovo and Sofia, at the end of the 20s of the 20th century. Along with Nedialko Karaneshev, he makes three exhibitions – in 1910, 1914 and 1915. Together with his colleagues Georgi Vasilev, Georgi Kashev and P. Kanchev, he arranges exhibitions in 1920 and 1921, at the salon of the Aprilov high school.

A curious fact is, that his exhibition during 1929, consists of 104 watercolor portraits of living liberation war soldiers /71 in total/ and 33 rebel squad soldiars, from the squads of Filip Totio, Panaiot Hitov, Hristo Botev,  priest Hariton and Tsanko Diustabanov. For months, the artist goes around all of Bulgaria, tracing and painting live, these “forgotten elderly men”. For this occasion, he issues an illustrated catalogue.

The next year Stefan Kovachev, shows his exsposition, also in Sofia. His expectations, that the exhibition will be purchased, are not fulfilled. His disappointment, breaks his psyche and health and on the 26th of June 1935 he dies in Sofia.

His only daughter Mara Kovacheva, graduates, the next year in 1936, from the National Academy of Arts, in the class of prof. Nikola Marinov. Following her fathers’ footsteps, she becomes a teacher in painting.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


I’m now standing in front of the self – portrait of Ilia Savchev in the Gabrovo art gallery. Impressive artwork! Every time I look at the painting, I give in to the temptation to stare right into the eyes, which look alive. His figure inspiring respect and his mysterious smile, the fine painting style, and renaissance manner, the decision of the author to eternalize himself in countercurrent, forecasting his characteristic, aristocratic mysticism, force me to ask myself, who is Ilia Savchev in actuality ?

“The fact, that we’re looking at the prominent people around us, with the eyes of the everyday people and that we estimate them with the measure of the human weaknesses, doesn’t allow us to appreciate their real value, so that we give them a well–deserved honor and respect. Perhaps, that’s why we, the Bulgarian people don’t have many saints and instead of bowing before ours, we’re bowing before the foreign ones.” – Ilia Savchev, “100 news” №155, 17th of October 2000.

It’s as if by these words, that he had predicted his own oblivion ….

The personnel of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, Gabrovo chose for a monthly accent, the artwork “Self-portrait” by Ilia Savchev, in order to remind about this prominent person, in a moment, in which as if more than ever we need spiritual values.

He was born on 11.04.1941, in Sofia, where he spends the first years of his childhood. After that, his parents return to Gabrovo. He graduates from the Aprilov high school. He is admitted to the Moscow Textile institute, after a contended fight for one last position, where he graduates in 1967, specializing in “Artistic design of the fabrics, and the products from them”. After his graduation, he works for a short time at the Center for fashion in Sofia, but eventually returns to Gabrovo.

Together with Iordan Lazarov, Emil Popgenchev and Nikola Nikolov, he is one of the creators of the group of artists, in Gabrovo. A constant visitor of the emblematic Club of the cultural workers, he is one of the faces of the Gabrovo bohemians. An atheist, philosopher, a constant opponent of the mediocrity and stupidity. He declines, to vote at the elections, on multiple occasions, during the time of socialism. He declines to become a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

From the beginning of the 70s, up until the dawn of democracy, he works at the state textile factory “Vasil Kolarov”, as a chief artist. He studies philosophy, in a distant form, at the Sofia University. He teaches visual arts, at the Textile technical high school. He paints actively in his atelier on the “Macedonia” street.

After the fall of communism, he becomes one of the founders of the “United democratic power” party in Gabrovo. He works. As a head of the “Education and culture” department in the Gabrovo Municipality. He fights actively, for the preservation of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, and the folklore ensemble in Gabrovo. He becomes a managing director of the gallery, and later an art scholar and caretaker in it.

He is a member of the founders, as well as a chairman of “The foundation for visual art” in Gabrovo, a deputy – chairman of the UBA in Gabrovo, a member of the International association of the plastic arts at UNESCO. His paintings have been purchased in Italy, Belgium, Germany, USA.

He dies, with a book in hand on 11.08.2002, due to a severe, cardiac illness.

It’s hard to imagine, from the distance of time, a person like Ilia Savchev, without having known him. Fortunately he has left a bright track after himself.

A total of 14 of his works, are being kept in the fund of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo, all of them diverse in styles and genres.

The local press preserves, for the generations to come, the art critique texts, introducing exhibitions by one of the most successful contemporary Gabrovo artists.

“In the works by Amalia we see the joy of the creator, by the act of creation, the trepidation by the mystery to split with the best of yourself, and turn it into paintings. In essence, it seems to me, that this is the closest to the content of the definition talent – the intrinsic need of the satisfaction to work without measure, in order to say something notable to yourself or to someone else – I don’t know !” – Ilia Savchev, “Multi-sided and diverse, Amalia is real”, “100 news”, №155, 17 October 2000.

“Probably because painting is the most delicate and sophisticated form of silence, they choose it, to the opportunity to shout, whenever you want to say something important. And the fact that the artist Ivan Hristov – Groga is one of the most delicate silent people, and that he has something to tell us with his paintings, we know by his whole life of an artist and a person.” – Ilia Savchev, “With honor and humility towards the simple things”, “Gabrovo today” №80, 26 April 2002.

“Ema Verterova with her delicate painting sensitivity, and aesthetic intuition, creates her own autonomous aesthetic, which distinguishes her from all of the other artists. This aesthetic serves her own artistic world, free from every rationality, whose essence, seems to me, is an artistic conditionality. I believe, that the specific aesthetic of Ema is not created by the vanity to become famous, but by the denial of everything, which strives to freeze the artist in some commonly accepted frames, by the pure respect toward the secrecy of the beauty, of a woman author, for whom art is love, devotion, alertness.” – Ilia Savchev, “Two completing each other, opposite sides”, “Zornitsa”, Gabrovo, 2001, №39.

I allowed myself these quotes, because I think that now, we’re lacking in such erudite people. We miss this elaborate analytical thinking, spirituality and of course impressive speech culture. Those like me, who don’t know Ilia Savchev, should get to him directly – without a mediator, and those who remember him hardly need an interpretation.

The society of Gabrovo, probably remembers the clear and categorical citizen position of Ilia Savchev, on subjects such as, the war in Yugoslavia, the fate of Miloshevich, the economic and social state of Gabrovo and the region, the herald of the town and the question “Should Aprilov and Palauzov be honorary citizens … the list of topics is long.

As an active citizen and an artist, he was one of the first initiators, consistently devoted to the cause to create a permanent exposition of Hristo Iavashev – Christo, and even for him to be invited, to realize a creative work here. He is an organizer of the first exhibition dedicated to Christo in Bulgaria.

I will allow myself to conclude, again with a quote by Ilia Savchev, because despite being said 18 years ago, these thoughts seem to me especially actual even today. “In every person, there is a particular unrelenting secrecy, which always and constantly seeks adventure. It awakes within us the fantasy of the creative adventure, and makes us fill every free space, home, a room with completely useless objects, paintings, sculptures, panes and this kind of unnecessary spiritual joys. This is the way the world is interpreted, not only by the crowd, which is bewitched by the fear for its survival, skewed by envy, laziness and intrigue, not expecting anything good, or bad , infected by the alienation as a way of life, exposing its own uselessness. This is also the way of thinking of the larger part of the first people of the nation, intoxicated by the competition for personal welfare, because they don’t love that which they don’t understand. With the flow of time, however, this “useless” object spirituality, turns into the only trustworthy, quality definition of the nation, which has created it, and only defines its real place, in the history of civilization.” – Ilia Savchev, “The dignities are measured by the frankness of the passions”, “Gabrovo today” №57, 26 March 2002.

The painting “Self-portrait” by Ilia Savchev can be seen at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, from 11th of August until the 8th of September 2020.

We are posting the text, which was kindly given to us by Savina Savcheva /daughter of Ilia Savchev/, introducing the resume of the artist, without any editing.

Nelly Nedeva

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The cultural calendar of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, this year, is entirely suited to go along with the marking of the 160th anniversary of the declaration of Gabrovo as a town. We’re introducing to the audience, artists, who have connected their life or creative path with the town.

In the column “Monthly accent”, we have the pleasure to introduce you the painting “Portrait of an elderly man”, by the artist Ivan Zahariev.

He was born in Gabrovo on the 9th of February 1897, as the first out of 9 children in total, in the family of the clock smith Zahary Ivanov Gichev.

Ivan Zahariev shows his talent as early as a young child. He is elected by his teachers, to give his drawing, as a present to Tzar Ferdinand I, during his visit, in Gabrovo. The Tzar, liked the child’s artwork so much, that he gave him a small golden coin, in return. The artist completed his high school education, in the Aprilov high school.

Ivan Zahariev participates in the war during the period of 1917 – 1918, as a reserve officer. His grandson Ivan Vasilev, who lives in the Czech Republic today, shared memories, which he remembers from his grandmother: “They had Greek captives, working a hard work. Many of the Bulgarian soldiers and officers treated them, to put it mildly not so well. Grandpa defended them, in many cases and he vouched for them. After the war, he received packages, several times, from the former captives, as symbols of gratitude, for him treating them with respect and care.”

After the war, the young artist is already engaged, works for one year, as a primary teacher, at the village of Belomazhite, in the Gabrovo region, and three years at the village of Varpishta, in the Drianovo region.

He enrolls in the Academy of arts in 1923, and graduates in 1927, specializing in painting. After that comes, a one-year internship in Model high school in Sofia. In 1929, he takes a government exam. For his excellent diploma work defense, he receives an award – a one year specialization in Italy. His big love for his fiancé Marina and his fathers’ duty to their newly born daughter take a main stance for his decision – instead of going to Italy, he returns together with his family to his native Gabrovo.

About the student years of Ivan Zahariev, his grandson Ivan Vasilev told us valuable memories: “I know one story, which I have heard several times by grandpa. On the 16th of April 1925, he wanted to see the funeral of General Constantine Georgiev, at the church “St. Nedelia”. He was already close to the church, when he was stopped by some acquaintance from Gabrovo, who had for him, also some news from his parents. A huge explosion interrupts their conversation. They felt the shock wave. Helped with the wounded. He used to say, that if he hadn’t been stopped by this acquaintance of his, we wouldn’t be on this world. 10 minutes and everything could have been otherwise.

He studied, repaired watches and sang and played the mandolin. His fiancé found a job and they helped each other financially. They had an agreement, that after he graduates from the Academy of arts, she will do the same. My grandfather completed his education, with excellence. One quote from the book of Racho Burov /a grandson of Ivan Zahariev – bel. Author/ : “Both of my uncles, thanks to the clock smith work, had graduated and became great Artists.”

In the list of teachers, at the Gabrovo high school, we see the name of Ivan Zahariev, for the first time, during the student year of 1928 – 1929, he is recorded as a teacher in painting. In the school year 1931 – 1932, he is already a teacher in painting and hand work, a head of a class, director of the office of painting and hand work, a manager of the student association “Homeland art”. He is a leader of several student trips. His colleagues, in the painting office were Georgi Kashev and Kina Bakardzhieva. His students were several, famous to this day artists – Iva Hadzhieva, Dragan Nemtzov, Dora Boneva, Georgi Doinov and the world famous Hristo Iavashev – Christo.

His students, today remember him as Sir Zari, who in his effort to teach the children to paint well, bought fresh fruits and vegetables from the market, in order to arrange a good still life. The hunger turned out to be stronger than the student discipline, and thus every morning, the painting office had an eaten still life. Sir Zari was stubborn. He started to spit on the fruits, before arranging them, for a model of the children’s drawings. That too, didn’t help, but Sir Zari didn’t go into despair. In the next classes, the students were painting a still life, with a pumpkin, turnips, parsnips, celery, beets, leeks, garlic, and other not so delicious for the hungry children vegetables.

After serving for thirty two years he retires.

He was awarded with a bronze medal “Cyril and Methodius” by the management of the high school and praised with a referral by the Town’s Peoples’ council, for the thirty year, teacher practice and his long societal and artistic activity.

The Museum of education, owns several of his portraits of renaissance activists, and old distinguished teachers.

Nine portraits, as well as one Gabrovo landscape, by the talented local artist Ivan Zahariev, are being kept in the fund of the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The French spirit in the works of Doncho Valchev


     “Provance” (oil on canvas; 90×75 cm.)

 For a monthly accent of June, the staff of  the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, has the pleasure to introduce you a wonderful French, townscape by Doncho Valchev – “Provance”.

The artist has portrayed, on the painting, one of those kind, coquette French squares, which we can see in many southern French towns. The people there, are walking around freely, during the holidays, they are looking at the stores windows, buying baguettes from the traditional little shops, as well as fresh food from the traditional Sunday markets. Three – floored citizen buildings, painted in warm ochre and yellow paints, are surrounding the square, in the composition, which creates the feeling of serenity, stability and personal space. Only the large plane trees are emitting their internal dynamic towards the sky. A feeling that the artist is sedated by this town idyllic , and way of life, is born.

Doncho Valchev is one of those Bulgarian artists, who were inspired by the French impressionism. He lays out his passion for the impressionism during his whole creative life. The artist had graduated, with distinction of excellence, the National academy of arts specializing in painting, in the class of professor Nenko Balkansky, in the end of the 50s of the 20th century. From the very beginning of his creative path – for three months during 1959, he visits France – an event, which marks a decisive meaning for his development as an artist. After that, Doncho Valchev travels to France several times. Namely because of that, in his artwork heritage, we can find many plots from Paris and other wonderful places, in this country. In 1989, Doncho Valchev becomes a professor in painting at the National institute of arts – “Nikolay Pavlovich” – Sofia.

The artist, has participated in collective exhibitions around the country, and in international exhibitions in Moscow, Budapest, Bucharest, Warsaw, Japan, USA, Algeria. He has received II and III award of the UBA, the award of SNGC, the award of Sofia, the award “Sozopol and the sea” and many other.

Author of the text: Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Art is like a reserve for the human soul

Mincho Minchev

(1950 – 2001)

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery continues its initiative, relating to the commemoration of 160 years since the pronouncing of Gabrovo as a town, introducing in the rubric “Monthly accent” artists, who have shared their creative as well as life path with our town. We present to your attention the artwork “Night” (1995; oil on canvas; 114×103 cm.) by the renowned Bulgarian artist Mincho Minchev.

He was born in Stara Zagora. Graduated from an art school in Sofia, and in 1997 from the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. St. Kiril and Methodius” specializing in “Painting”. His professional life is connected to Gabrovo. From 1978 he establishes himself in the town, and starts participating in Group art exhibitions, as well as in the collective shows of the guilds in Gabrovo and Stara Zagora. During 1979, his first solo exhibition in Gabrovo was opened. Following are seven more solo exhibitions in the country. In 1995, Mincho Minchev agreed to take part in the World art festival in Cannes Seur-Mare, France. Along with all these things,  the artist was also a managing director at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

We have invited his wife – the famous artist Amalia Mincheva, to share with us her memories about Mincho Minchev:

“… They’ve asked me to write memories about my husband – the artist Mincho Minchev. I’m not an essay writer and the wording is not the strongest skill I can work with. I’ve thought about, the fact that on the 18th of May, he would have turned 70 years old, if he was still alive. I’ve remembered our youth and our life. The good and the strange things, we’ve been through, together. I was with him for 32 years and I don’t know whether I’ve known him well. Now I’m thinking. We’ve studied together at the art school and the University. We painted and we developed ourselves with common teachers, classmates and friends.  Mincho was a bohemian – he loved the celebrations and people’s company. He was born to be an artist and that was his life. He wasn’t interested in the material world, and he lived in his own world. After the reforms, he wasn’t prepared mentally and he fell ill, badly. His illness came as a shock, he isolated himself in his atelier and perhaps then was the time he made his best works. He had a sense of justice, and he always said what he thought. From the 20 year distance, since he’s gone, I’m always thinking, that he was right for many things. In the atelier, we conversed on another level, the everyday life problems, were disappearing, only the creative ones remained. There was a competition between us, and a striving on his behalf, to preserve his authenticity, his own “I”. The artist is eccentric and selfish in a particular way. Every day I’m watching the paintings, on the walls, and I’m feeling his world view and his philosophy about the world. Mincho lived and burned like an artist !”

The mature period of Mincho Minchev’s art is based on a deep and nuanced philosophical program. The interconnections between the human and natural, the sensitive and beyond the visible, are in the basis of his artistic searching. The plastic solutions, in his paintings are subjects of a huge interest and visual enjoyment. The transitions from almost sculptural relief toward the smoothness of the theme, the wealth of the layered reflections from a single color, the brave unification of contrasting and additional colors, makes him a sophisticated colorist.  The human silhouette is often present, in the compositions of his works. And still, the man never overpowers the common, the personal is subjected to the universal.

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery owns 47 artworks by Mincho Minchev. Among them are 23 paintings donated by Amalia Mincheva during 2012.

The abstract composition, of the painting “Night” sends us thinking about the place of man in the Universe, our loneliness, in front of it and in front of the paths, which we choose in our life.

We’re inviting you to enjoy the artistic heritage of the artist, too.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During the month of February the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you a spectacular landscape by Tsanko Vasilev – “Gabrovo in the winter”

Tsanko Vasilev (1891 – 1971) – is a famous artist from Gabrovo, who has studied painting in the State school of art. Not having a third – grade education, the future artist was admitted as an extraordinary student, studied three years in the common class, and two more in the specialized department under the great Bulgarian artist prof. Ivan Murkvichka.

Tsanko Vasilev was not the only one born in Gabrovo, who has specialized under the famous artist, but he had definitely become one of his loyal followers in the development of the everyday life painting, as a genre in the Bulgarian art.

In the year of 1920 Tsanko Vasilev opens his own atelier, as a free artist in Sofia. Preferring to paint with oil and watercolor, years later he devotes himself to church painting. This way, during 1942, Tsanko Vasilev together with Nikola Kozhuharov and Petar Mihailov accepts to participate in the decorating of the “St. Petka” church in Ruse.

After the passing of Tsanko Vasilev, a large personal exhibition of his was introduced, in April 1974, in the gallery of the Union of the Bulgarian artists on “Shipka 6” street in Sofia. There were landscapes and still life, portraits and compositions exhibited there, figuring up to 94 paintings, 68 of which were painted with watercolor and oil. The extensive creative heritage of the artist is now concentrated in the state as well as the private collections.

The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery owns 4 artworks by Tsanko Vasilev. One of them – “Gabrovo in the winter” – being introduced for a monthly accent of February 2020. The painting dates back to 1922, and shows a view towards the center of Gabrovo, from the Yantra river and the rocks, where nowadays stands the monument of Racho Kovacha (the blacksmith).

In this artwork Tsanko Vasilev demonstrates slight coloristic transitions. The water and snow flow into one – another from white to gray-blue, and the buildings are in ochre shades. These colorful accents balance between each – other, and give a feeling of serenity. The movement in the composition comes from the flowing water and the smoke, winding from the chimneys. All of this triggers the sensation of the balanced life of the snowy town and harmony with the nature.

“Gabrovo in the winter” is one of the first artworks by Tsanko Vasilev after his graduation from the State school of art, and it reflects his affection toward the traditions of the Realism, as well as the masterful work regarding taking the compositional and coloristic decisions.

During the whole month of February you will have the opportunity to get to know the painting by Tsanko Vasilev – one of the old masters, whose creative work is an example for the art of Realism in Bulgaria. Everyone is welcome !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


In the beginning of the year 2020, for the month of January, we have chosen to introduce you the painting “Ritual II” by Rafi Shehirian, for a monthly accent. This year we mark 160 years anniversary, of Gabrovo as a town, and because of that the team of “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, decided to introduce authors, who have connected their creative and life path with our town.

Rafi Shehirian (1952 – 2011) is a Bulgarian conceptual artist, born in Sofia and also a descendant of Armenian refugees, who have arrived in Bulgaria, after the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman empire during 1915. He applies in the period of three years, in the Acedemy of fine arts, and as his brother remembers in the book “Rafi Shehirian” – “He wanted his artworks to be completely original, distinguishing themselves from all others, so that they can’t be ignored.” The book is initiated by his wife Galina Shehirian and his son Julian Shehirian. It is a result of the thoughts and memories of prof. Aksinia Djurova, Filip Zidarov, Rumen Serafimov and Tsvetan Kolev.

Rafi Shehirian graduates in textile art, then oriented toward painting. His work doesn’t meet the approval of the commissions and hardly during 1987, he and his wife, the sculptor Galina Delieva – Shehirian, manage to organize a public exhibition at “Rakovsky” 108 street. One of his close friends Tsvetan Kolev, recounts the event as “an exhibition, which left permanent memories, and I’m sure, that many things have changed in our art, especially in the groups of the younger, more unburdened colleagues.”

In 1977 Shehirian becomes a part of the group “Kukv day”. The main activity of this circle, consists of an exchange of information about contemporary art, often taking discussion forms. Personal creative experiments, influenced by modernist movements, such as Dadaism, Surrealism, abstractionism, are also being shared. At that time such attempts were firmly rejected by the propaganda of the active political regime. The path for entrance, by all young authors, in the organized artistic life in the country is strictly regulated and engineered.

The participants in the “Kukuv day” group, to a larger or smaller degree take it as impossible to defy the system directly, and to express themselves freely in the public space. That’s why they accept the idea for an “internal spiritual immigration” and begin to use different alternative forms for artistic expression, with a contradictory and parody type character.

Rafi Shehirian is not included, in not even one, artistic exhibition at home, until 1988 – the year, in which he, together with his wife leaves the country. They manage to reach Austria, where they are accepted in a refugee camp. One year and a half later they receive a permission for refuge in the USA. They settle in New York. During the years after that, Rafi Shehirian works in the area of textile design and a style of painting, completely different for him.

During the 80s Rafi lives in the Gabrovo area, village of Yantra, and his home reminds of “Club of friends” and “Workshop for ideas”. The walks around the Tryevna Balkan, with Tsvetan Kolev and Dimitar Kazakov – Neron, with whom Rafi had a strong connection, the friendly meetings and the long conversations between them are an occasion for us to seek Tsvetan Kolev, to introduce in front of the Gabrovo audience, the little forgotten Rafi Shehirian.

Finally, before “I give the word” to Tsvetan Kolev, it is right to remind you, that Rafi is also one of those, who have contributed, so that today in Tryavna, there is the vastest collection, donation from Dimitar Kazakov – Neron.

Nelly Nedeva

The Rafi phenomenon

We are used to arranging the development of the human achievements in the area of culture, not only in a chronological order, but also qualitatively in an upward line. We see resemblance and we probably compare, the cultural development with that of the civilization, which is not always true. Tracing the historical development, we find cultural achievements, which far surpass the contemporary ones, and are unattainable by their philosophical depth. This probably wrong judgment and reading of the cultural development, makes us follow some sort of collectivism (empathy toward the common path of the culture). To allot ourselves to advanced or lagging people, in the common stream of the creative development.

But from time to time, someone, who brazenly leaves the common path, be it a philosopher, an artist etc. appears, and breaches the “so solid” established postulates. He violates the type of arrangement, the sequence and the logic in the phenomena. .A new energy is born, as if, from nowhere, which can instigate (divert the stream of culture), and can also be extinguished, outside the limited earthly spaces. Such artists, who in a contradiction to all kinds of sequence, outside all influences, schools, “isms…”, come to express their statement.

It’s not the conditions, which create the artist, but it’s the artist who creates the conditions, in which culture develops.

Rafi was one of the most rare ones, not only for the Bulgarian, but also the foreign artistic culture. Artist and philosopher outside any frames of his time. And this time, was dubious and not always transparent from the viewpoint of the free expression. Such a new and fresh “flower”, could hardly survive in the well arranged garden of the socialist culture.

A phenomenon of creative work, outside the common stream of life without being a follower of any kinds of past and present influences, listening only to the internal voices of his own world. His art was more like visualized philosophical reflections, tracks from an abstract philosophical thought, a trip outside the visible reality. More like a musical forms, created by the rhythm of thought. Symphonies in the white spaces of the paper and the canvas. An internal rhythm, which has poured itself in a coded plastic forms. That was his strong side. I haven’t seen to this day, someone to so gently pull out so much mysticism, so incomprehensible, as if from the depths of the eastern philosophy, whispers, from the white space of the canvas. Never again have I met an artist, who works so divinely with the materials, even using the simplest black pencil.

He wasn’t a rebel, and he didn’t impose his way of thinking, he only shared it.

His very aura of a man from another unknown world, embittered and bothered our routine existence. He never compared himself to nothing and no one. His internal struggle, was with his own doubts, trying to find the best form to express his understanding about people. He destroyed the outside forms, in order to get a look at the internal logic of the human expressions. Although hidden, in his works, there was some kind of his own inexact religiousness, dictated by his intrinsic sensitivity, inherited from his ancient homeland.

Rafi had a natural goodness and benevolence, and his paintings are reflecting benign character, praise and love. Not everyone understood him, but that didn’t stop them from “consuming” the charm of his art. Everybody wanted to communicate with him and to feel pleasure from his reflection of a person and an artist. His students adored him, and he loved them and protected them.

This seemingly soft man, hardly made any compromise in his art. He kept some king of a clean nature, in his attitude, to his own work. He was afraid, that the bad thought, the evil word comes into our art, so he kept this territory as holy.

An aristocrat in his work and his philosophies, and an ascetic in life, but also in the little, which he enjoyed in life plan, he tried to impart to it aristocratism.

The world to him was the most interesting place, his gift, was to analyze it, dismantle it and build it again, as a game, as a little God. He didn’t get into any agreements, which could smother these ideas, he had, about the world movements. He was a small universe, in which there was everything, from the big one, and that made him happy, because he was creating it. He received a lot, he knew it, and where did he take it ?

Tsvetan Kolev

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


The creative dimensions from the artistic world of Minio Bonev

The name of the artist Minio Bonev is well known, not only by the Gabrovo audience, and the most important artistic centers in the country (Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas, Varna, Lovech, Veliko Tarnovo), but also outside of Bulgaria. For more than 40, creatively rich, years his talent has developed additionally in the area of applied graphics and painting, as well as in social – charity initiatives. In all directions, the artist has reached a high level of recognition by the people.

During the now distant year of 1977, with the support from Nikola Nikolov – chairman of UBA – Gabrovo, Minio Bonev starts his artistic career, as an applied graphics artist, and an artistic editor, in the state economic enterprise “Advertisement”, Gabrovo. In this year he successfully graduates from the University of Veliko Tarnovo, specializing in Painting, in the class of prof. Ianaki Manasiev.

For the 17 years, in which the artist has worked, in the area of applied graphics and graphic design, he creates more than 50 trade and company brands and logos, in the whole region (Gabrovo, Lovech and Veliko Tarnovo). In that respect, we can safely say, that Minio Bonev is one of the most – important, and most – famous, graphic designers, in Bulgaria. Apart from personal creative projects, that he has realized, Minio Bonev has interacted with, and coordinated, the operation of a large number of professional graphics artists, in the whole country. In the interview, which he gives for “100 news” newspaper, from the 29th of March 2017, the artist mentions, his first meeting and work with the engineer Stefan Karadzhov (creator of the traditional “Gabrovo clock”), and with the world famous Bulgarian designer – Stefan Kanchev. In the conversation, Minio Bonev notes, that the projective nature of the activity, which he was doing, have cultivated, in his character, precision, and in his style laconism and generalization of the images. In order for us to better understand, where his interest in the creative and projective activity, arise from, we must say, that Minio’s father is the famous architect from Gabrovo Pencho Bonev. He is the first leader of Projective organization – Gabrovo, the head rector building of the Technical University – Gabrovo’s project was created by him. Also, his grandfather – Minio Bonev – was a construction engineer. He has lead, the compilation of the cadastral plan for the Bazhdar neighborhood, during the 1920’s.

For the people Minio Bonev is well known as a painter. And for the artist himself, painting was like a place of creative freedom and passion, outside the limitations of the productive, harmonizing and normative activities.

Minio Bonev has found, and developed his coloring, mainly in the seascapes, as well as mountain and architectural landscapes. As much as the artist was laconic, in his work, as an applied graphics artist, so to the same degree, in the opposite direction, he has developed the lively, plein – air, feeling of the coloring. The color plays a very important role and it forms the particular light, coming from his paintings’ canvases. In this same way the lightness and the air, are present in the artworks of Minio Bonev. The artist from the Balkan was charmed by the poeticism of the coast of the sea, which is why he has very often participated in the seaside plein – airs. The water plays with the patterns of the exquisite architecture in the paintings, forming a colorful symphony. His cycle of Venetian cityscapes is done in the same manner.

As an artist, Minio Bonev has always sought new expressive means and approaches, experimented with more realistic and more abstract stylistics, with brighter and more delicate colors, as well as with the very formats of the canvases. For him, the search was turning into an interesting creative process.

For his whole creative life, Minio Bonev participated in more than 30 international and local painting plein – airs. He participated in the international biennial of the humor and satire in the arts – Gabrovo, the biennial for contemporary Bulgarian visual art “Friends of the sea” – Burgas, biennial of the small forms – Pleven. He is a laureate of the award for painting of Gabrovo municipality for the year of 2004. On the 4th of April 2014 in the “Hristo Tsokev” ar gallery, the ninth solo exhibition of the artist was opened.

The participation of Minio Bonev in several artistic unions is also interesting. The first one is art – club Apostrophe, which was founded in 2006, by some of the most prominent Gabrovo artists. The second is “Blue zone”. It arises as an union of artists with disadvantages in the year of 2000, and in it there are participants from the whole country. Among the goals of this union were: help with the social integration, education, spiritual growth, and development of people with permanently decreased ability to work. From 2001 up to now, the union has realized a total of 48 events (exhibitions and plein – airs) in Lovech, Kozloduy, Svishtov, Sofia, Plovdiv, Pomorie, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo and other towns in the country. Together with his friend – artist and scene director Tihomir Vitkov from Lovech – the artist has attracted, the creators with disabilities from all of Bulgaria and other European countries, in order to help them develop more, as artists, and to get an opportunity for financial support, and he has accepted to participate in the organization of their exhibitions in Lovech, Burgas and in other cities.

The Gabrovo painter and graphic artist Mino Bonev was very generous, both in his work and in his societal activities. He has developed a deep feeling for colors, and generalization of the images. His art wants to capture and convey the nuances of this multi-colored world.

Compiled by Stanislav Goncharov

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During November the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you, for a monthly accent, the painting “Portrait of a girl” by the famous Bulgarian artist and painter Ivan Stoilov – Bunkera. The choice of painting by this author is not random, as this year we mark an eighty-five year anniversary of his birth, and the painting itself dates back to the distant year of 1970.

Ivan Stoilov – Bunkera (1.10.1934-2007) was born in the village of Kondofrey, in the Pernik area. He graduated painting, in the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, under prof. Nenko Balkansky and prof. Ilia Petrov. Ivan specializes in Italy and France. He participates in solo and group art exhibitions. Ivan Stoilov has awards for painting from the Union of Bulgarian Artists. Works in the area of painting and sculpture. He gets inspired by the archaeological findings of ancient ceramics and plastics. Ivan cooperates with the Thessaloniki University of archaeology and history of art and the Archaeological museum of Sofia. His paintings can be found in the National Art Gallery, the Sofia city art gallery, the “Pushkin” museum in Moscow, in private collections in Sofia, Thessaloniki, Cassel, Rome, New York, Paris, Brussels and London.

The portrait is one of the most popular genres in the Bulgarian art. During the second half of the 20th century, the representativeness in the genre is replaced with the psychological outlook. The artists start to seek new approaches and ways to convey the inner world of the person and his life events.

On the portrait, there is an image of a young girl, who is gazing at the spectator. The composition, as well as the color grade are maximally laconic. The monochromatic look suggests for the melancholy and to a certain degree, the psychological constraint of the main character. The background of the painting is almost graphical, while the body, clothes and hair are conveyed in a more colorful painting manner. In that way, the artist directs our attention, to the main point – the spiritual state of the character.

With the painting “Portrait of a girl” the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the work by an exceptionally talented Bulgarian artist Ivan Stoilov. Everybody is welcome to the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo. We remind you, that every Tuesday there is no entrance fee.

Sources: Website

Compiled by: Stanislav Goncharov and Nikolay Georgiev

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


Nikolay Karadzhov – artist from Ruse – began his career in the 1970s, after graduating from Art Academy in Sofia with Professor Nenko Balkanski.

His style, called hyperrealism, developed in both European and American art, in response to the ideas of postmodern philosophy (Umberto Eco, Jean Baudrillard, etc.). Hyperreality describes the hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced postmodern cultures.

In the painting “An incident” by Karadzhov, we look like at the camera obscura on the composition of objects placed in an almost airtight space: the cone, the sphere, the yellow silk shirt and one hand, as a hint of a human body placed in a paper bag. We also notice a hole in one of the boards. After that, our consciousness constructs us as a puzzle a composition of events, it is possible one of the tragic events that happened in Asia in the second half of the 20th century (the military conflicts in Vietnam and Cambodia), or it may be a complete genre scene with the fallen doll…

The artist has created a masterful laconic composition made up of different objects that must be deciphered. Colorful sophistication and detailisation are the characteristic features of Nikolay Karadzhov’s works, probably taken from the lessons of his teacher – Nenko Balkanski and from his interest in Dutch painting.

Art works by Nikolay Karadzhov are the property of National Art Gallery in Sofia, of many art galleries in the country, as well as private collections in Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, United Kingdom, USA, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


What connects Bozhentsi with the so distant Nicaragua ? Sometime, during 1984, an incredible Indian man visited our country, in order to participate in an International painting plein – air. He came here, because in Gabrovo we like people with a developed sense of humor. He put down his wide hat, sincerely smiled and said: “Hola, Bozhentsi !” In the painting “Portrait of Leonsio Saens”, our hero is representent as in cartoon genre. Similarly to an experienced traveler, he walked on the hills of Bozhentsi, in between the traditional Bulgarian houses, collecting ideas for the plen – air. And on the benches in front of the houses, as usual, life flows slowly and the grandmothers share stories between each other. The Romanian artist Stefania Grimalsky shares with us a merry feeling for the natural abundance, light, green vegetation and a lot of air. The painting looks unfinished, more like a cartoon, but even in the good joke there is always a place for contemplation, isn’t it ?

Bozhentsi as a lively spring, during the long years attracts travelers, artists, curious people and generously shares its gifts with them, no matter, whether it’s about beautiful landscapes, handfuls of ripe, juicy plums, pleasant conversations with the local citizens, seclusion or a sincere laughter.

This artwork provokes memories and a smile in the Gabrovo artists, who joyfully tell stories about the merry Leonsio, who has become the soul of the plein – air from 1984.

This gave us the occasion to present for a monthly accent of September the painting “Portrait of Leonsio Saens” by Stefania Grimalsky, both of whom were participants in the International painting plein – air “Bozhentsi”.

The painting plein air “Bozhentsi” has its beginning in 1975 as an international event. With short interruptions it carries on until today. It is organized in the unique architectural historical reserve in the village of Bozhentsi in the central Balkan mountains, near Gabrovo.

During the years the organization was mostly carried on by the group of Gabrovo artists. The names of Nikola Nikolov, Ivan Kanchev, Ivan Hristov – Groga, Mincho Minchev and many other famous people from Gabrovo  It takes place during the autumn, and since the year of 1977, a parallel spring edition starts, in which young authors participate.

The painting plein air “Bozhentsi” is of a great importance to the Gabrovo gallery, because through it, a rich collection of contemporary international art is formed in its fund. The authors, are mainly European, representative of different movements, expressing the most characteristic, artistic visions from the respective national schools. In Bozhentsi, there were artists with a bright invention, some of which, with an avant-garde approach.

The purpose of the plein air is to conduct an exchange between artists from different countries, art schools and tendencies.

Every edition ends with an exhibition of the artworks in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery.

With the painting “Portrait of Leonsio Saens” the audience has the opportunity to get a sneak peek behind the curtains of the plein – air and see the village of Bozhentsi, through the eyes of a foreign woman. Everyone is welcome in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery Gabrovo. We remind you that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During August the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you, for a monthly accent, the painting “Sonia” by the famous Bulgarian artist – wife of academic Svetlin Rusev – Liliana Ruseva.

The painting selected by us, is a portrait of a woman, probably a friend of the artist, which emanates a particular pearl light, reflecting it from the inside, uncovering a new intrinsic content, of the painting. About the work of Liliana Ruseva, Ivailo Mirchev writes the following: “If it can be said about a painting style, that it is honest and unpretentious, then that would be the style of Liliana. The artist paints the things, which she loves and knows, with that internal need, with which, the ordinary things are done, and in addition to that with a consistency, which can be envied. The nude women figures and the landscapes, the still life with flowers works are all painted with a sincere realism. Despite of that, this style of painting remains intuitive and emotional. It touches the senses in a direct way. It is beautiful and attractive, without being too sweet. At the same time, thanks to the colorful restraint and the complicated grading of the basic tonality, it sounds conditional and abstract – like music.

And more than that – this way of painting is good not in the physical, but in the moral sense of this definition, because it is a style of painting of the peaceful contemplation. I’m thinking that today, when every day we meet artworks, struggling to suggest great messages, when the aesthetic categories /until they exist/ are with an unclear and blurred boundaries, when the prohibited is allowed, the world in the paintings by Liliana Ruseva is an island of peace and the ordinary humane things, which we so desperately need. A serenity however, born out of the understanding, that beauty is a function of the personal sensitivity of the artist…”

Liliana Ruseva was born on the 6th of April 1932 in Sofia. During 1959 she graduated from the National academy of arts, specializing in “illustration” under prof. Ilia Beshkov. From 1963 she becomes a member of the Union of Bulgarian artists, during 1972 she opens her first solo exhibition, and in 1979 the second. Since then, up until today she has tens of solo exhibitions and participations in collective international and national expositions. The National art gallery, the Sofia city art gallery and local city galleries around the country, all own some of her works. During 1979 she was awarded the title of “Honored artist”, and during 1982 she received the order “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” I degree.

This year we mark ten years since the passing of the artist, who has left behind a remarkable and rich artistic heritage.

With the painting “Sonia”, the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the work of one of the most interesting and innovative Bulgarian artists. Everyone is welcome to the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo. We remind you, that every Tuesday is a day without entrance fee.

Sources: Mariana Avramova, UBA

Ivailo Mirchev –text about the exhibition “Selected” – paintings by Liliana Ruseva at the exhibition centre on “Shipka” 6 street, in Sofia.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During July the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery has the pleasure to introduce you the painting “White nets”, for monthly accent, by the famous Bulgarian artist, painter and graphics creator Edmond Demirdzhian. The choice of painting by this author is not random, as exactly on the 23rd of July we mark ten years since the artist passed away from this world.

He was born in 1951 in Sofia. During 1971 he graduated from the Art school, and during 1978 from the National Academy of Arts, specializing in mural painting, under prof. Dimo Zaimov. Since then he participates actively in the artistic life at home and abroad. He works in the areas of drawing, collage, painting and graphics. He had organized solo exhibitions in Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv, Rome, Brussels, Vienna, Linz, Stockholm, New York, Kansas City and other. He’s also a laureate of an award from the American foundation “Pollock – Krasner”, for artists with special merits in art. During 2006 he is honored to receive the award of Sofia for exceptional merits in the area of art and culture for the exhibition “Unexhibited by Edmond”, on the Shipka 6 street in Sofia. His paintings can be seen in all state galleries in Bulgaria, as well as in many private collections. His work can be divided into several periods: 1971 – 1983 – he creates figural compositions, interiors and still life paintings in a constructivist manner, 1983 – 1987 – he paints mainly grotesque figural compositions with distemper in an expressionist style, and after 1987 he develops his work in the direction of fantastical expressionism. During 2008 he opens his own exhibition space, called “Salon – atelier Edmond” on 13th of March 21 street in Sofia.

While representing the man and the artist Edmond Demirdzhian, the art critic Maria Vasileva says:

“Edmond has grown up in a completely ordinary family. His father was a turner, and his mother a seamstress. Ordinary, yet at the same time extraordinary, as these are people with a very precise attitude to the craft. I have heard legends about the skills of his mother. Therefore, he has probably inherited talent from his parents, but nobody has pushed him to do painting”.

She points out that through time, the artist passes through several stages. There is one very clearly defined period, which is of a very high interest to the art critics. It’s about figural compositions, at first glance realistic, but not so much, because these are strange combinations of people, wheels, hangers, overcoats, which we cannot see in the same way in real life. And his characters are stylized in a special way by the spirit of the grotesque.

In the last years of his life he had shrinked the plots of his artworks to the maximum He had several favorite motifs – his turbots, his trademark of hanging fish. And he was not so interested in what the painting will tell, but more of how it will influence the viewer through the complementing of colors, forms and lines”.

Edmond Demirdzhian passes away on the 23rd of July 2009, from a heart attack, as his untimely death shocked our artistic world.

With the painting “White nets” the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the work of one of the most interesting Bulgarian artists Edmond Demirdzhian. Everyone is welcome in the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo. We remind you that every Tuesday there is no entrance fee.

Sources: Veneta Pavlova, for Bulgarian National Radio

Art gallery “Nuance” website

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


During June the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, has the pleasure to introduce you, for monthly accent, the painting “Balchik” by one of the most notable figures and functionaries, of Bulgarian visual arts, the prominent artist – academic Svetlin Rusev.

The choice of author is not random, as exactly on the 14th of June he would have celebrated his 86th birthday. One year after his passing, we are showing his landscape from Balchik. The painting itself, is from an earlier period of the artist, and an interesting fact is that during his last visit at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery, Svetlin Rusev saw his work, and said that it gives him a pleasant feeling, and that he’s very glad he saw it, even though he doesn’t remember exactly when he had finished it.

Svetlin Rusev appears on the stage along with the generation of Velichko Minekov, Valentin Starchev, Ivan Kirkov, Georgi Baev, Vladimir Goev, Maria Stolarova, the Plovdiv group with Dimitar Kirov, Georgi Bozhilov – Slona, Ioan Leviev, Encho Pironkov and others. These young authors have, to a large degree the official permission to be different, as namely this is what is expected of them. But what does it mean to be different then ? It’s not only about the “expressive monumentalism”, but also for the development of relationships between the those in power and the create ve potential. The people in power now allows the artists to realise themselves, within the conditions it created, and to give a more diverse interpretation of the concept of socialist realism. With the award from the first youth exhibition for the composition “Tractor drivers” Svetlin Rusev is recognised for the perfect example of that difference.

He was born on the 14th of June 1993 in the village of Varbitsa, Pleven municipality. During 1959 he graduated from the National Academy of arts in Sofia, specialising in painting under prof. Dechko Uzunov. From as early as his first compositions, drawn during 1959, “Expulsion of the partisan families” (diploma thesis) and “Digger women”, Svetlin Rusev sets himself as an artist of the multi-figural composition. From 1975 Svetlin Rusev is a teacher at the National Academy of arts in Sofia and for more than 60 years he creates hundreds of paintings in the area of the monumental painting, murals and thousands of drawings. Svetlin Rusev also creates many paintings in the area of the portrait genre – portraits of Bogomil Rainov, Kiril Petrov, Nikolay Rainov, Vanga, as well as the artworks “My mother” (1970, 1992, 1994), “My father” (1982, 1992) and other., and also many iconographic portraits of women from the “Bulgarian women” cycle. He was a national representative from the 6th until the 9th National Assembly (1971 – 1990) and in the VII Great national assembly (1990 – 1991). Member of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party (April 1976 – July 1988; November 1989 – February 1990). Disappointed by the political life and by the means, with which it fulfils itself, by the impossibility of him to be useful with that, which he is, the artist resigns from the politics. Svetlin Rusev is among the most prominent collectors in Bulgaria. In his collection, there are canvases of Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master, Vasil Stoilov, Andrey Nikolov, Zlatio Boiadzhiev, Ilia Petrov, Eliezer Alshech, Bencho Obreshkov, Dimitar Kazakov, Nikola Marinov, Ekaterina Savova – Nenova, Vladimir Rilsky, Alexander Poplilov, Naiden Petkov, Magda Abazova and other. His collection is of a National importance. Many friends, researchers and critics write about Svetlin Rusev with notions, such as “Plastic expressiveness”, “Spirituality”, “Timelessness”, “Secrecy”, “Cataclysm”, “Reflection”, “Esoteric loftiness”. Svetlin Rusev carries himself with the appearance of a man, who simply does his job, in the usual rhythm – during the day everywhere he goes, and at night in front of the next white canvas. Between the collectorship and the connoisseurship, he still believes in couses and continues to be an active societal corrective. Especially indicative, is the fact that to him, everybody no matter their biases, turn usually, when something has to be built or saved. Nobody seeks his advice on crumbling and destruction, because his experience in these cases would be useless. With the painting “Balchik” the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the creative visions of Svetlin Rusev, which are at the base of the development of the Bulgarian contemporary art. You are welcome at the “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery in Gabrovo. We remind you, that every Tuesday, is a day without entrance fee.


Catalogue of Svetlin Rusev – Svetlana Kuiumdzhieva 2012.

Various articles on the Internet

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.


Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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!

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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”

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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 !

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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!

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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!

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


“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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.”

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


“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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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”.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev


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.

Translation by Nikolay Georgiev