The Mission Gallery News

Exhibition of previously unseen works by the great Bulgarian artist Tsanko Lavrenov and presentations of a monograph on the English language artist


On December 12, 2023, an exhibition of previously unseen works by the great Bulgarian artist Tsanko Lavrenov will be opened in the "Mission" gallery at the State Cultural Institute to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the exposition, a central place will be occupied by a work that is part of the rich art fund of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and which the team from the State Cultural Institute organized to arrive from the Bulgarian Embassy in Bucharest to be included in the representative exhibition.

Along with the exhibition, a monograph on the artist will be presented in English, translated by Nigrita and Philip Davies. The book is a publication of the "Tsanko Lavrenov" Foundation and the "Trud" Publishing House, in partnership with museums and galleries from the country, as well as private collections. The voluminous and content-rich publication is the first to fully present the work and personality of one of the most prominent figures of Bulgarian art. In its 568 pages, it includes 1,321 images of works, photographs, letters and documents. The book has an exceptional contribution character - for the first time, studies of Lavrenov's graphic work, as well as his written legacy as a critic and art researcher, are being published. The first detailed biography has been compiled with rich documentary-illustrative material originating from the artist's personal archive. Most of the offered documents and letters are from the artist's archive and are being published for the first time.

      Tsanko Lavrenov was born in Plovdiv in 1896. Already during his student years at the French College in his hometown, he knew that he would devote his life to art. He failed to get the academic education he dreamed of, but with even greater conviction he dedicated himself to the artistic field. After returning from Vienna to Plovdiv, he developed an active creative and public activity related to the exhibitions of the Society of South Bulgarian Artists. One of the peaks in his work is the large painting cycle created after his trips to Mount Athos in 1935-1936.

      He himself says that he arrived at his artistic style after a lot of "sweat of the brow". Knowing that his life is bound up with art, he began to draw inspiration from the beautiful Bulgarian architecture, the Bulgarian icon and all the products of artistic crafts. Going through medieval elements and inspiration from the work of Zachary Zograf, studying wood engraving, he mastered the techniques of applying light spots and features on a black background, which he transferred to oil work. Tsanko Lavrenov says: "When manipulating these techniques, I discovered that depending on my compositional requirements in the painting, I can work in the sgraffito technique in places, and elsewhere I can use the washes inherent in watercolor. So, in many of my paintings the possibilities of three pictorial techniques are combined. In them I have used the power of pasty oil paint, the precision of graphics and the tenderness of watercolour.'

    The presence of Tsanko Lavrenov in general art exhibitions in Sofia in the 1930s makes him stand out as one of the interesting Bulgarian painters. The dominant theme in our art since then is also prominent in his paintings. Plots from Bulgarian history and images of our old architecture mainly determine his thematic preferences. But his revival houses and monasteries, surrounded by a romantic-idyllic atmosphere, have a different expression from the plastic expression known until then. They are remembered for the conscious search for iconographic stylistics through naive drawing and conditional space. In them, criticism at the time saw innovation and promising horizons. It is no coincidence that everyone is talking about his premiere painting "Old Plovdiv", 1930.

In addition to being an artist, Tsanko Lavrenov has a solid presence in cultural life with his active critical activity on fine art issues. He left behind a large array of publications, scientific reviews, monographic studies for artists," shared art critic Anelia Nikolaeva in 2016 on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of his birth.

The exhibition will be opened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maria Gabriel.




Keywords exhibition 2023