Representative exhibition


Main building

17.5.2024 — ∞

Curators and text
Katya Hristova
Plamen V. Petrov
Georgi Sharov
Dr. Milen Alagenski
Dora Zarcheva
Tsvetelina Velkova
Joanna Bradshaw
Lora Sultanova
Tsvetan Ignatovski
Technical assistants
Kiril Georgiev
Lyuben Malchev
Maria Taneva

They say that life is essentially a state of need, which we could say has preordained the appearance of the institutions of art museums in our cultural history – vessels in which, through the epochs we accumulate and preserve works of art. Each of these creations has its own biography—public life, authorship, patronage, physical parameters—all data which form part of the ‘passport’ of an artistic work. For a significant fragment of these paintings, sculptures or other objects created by an artist which are introduced into the museum space, they are destined to fall beyond the visible parts of the museum – into the repository, to be defined as the subject of a common chronology on the development of art which awaits narration, or as a separate artistic manifestation of an artist, type or genre of art.

The collection and historicisation of the works are inextricably linked to the gesture of choice. A choice, which science describes as a communion of knowledge, instinct and feelings. And nowhere is this interconnection more visible than in the art world. Should we attempt to go beyond sensory perception in our reading of a work, it is inevitable that we come up against the artist’s knowledge of the construction of the chunk of reality reflected in it. We also encounter their instinct to hunt down that which eludes us, the public, in order to use, highlight, deny or denounce it. We come face to face with the sensitivity the piece’s creator has to the fabric of our own existence, from which they demarcate that mind-bending content and make it their own as a part of the work. And behind all that, together and separately, lie a string of choices which, in the end, constitute all works of art. We cannot deny that it is precisely knowledge, instinct and feeling which underpin the accumulation of every art collection.

The first piece to become part of the collection today held by Art Gallery Kazanlak was donated way back in 1901, the founding moment in history of an extraordinary institution which became the first of its kind in the country. For all its 123 years of existence, the fund today holds over 5000 works of art, a large part of which the history of Bulgarian art is unimaginable without. This collection of paintings, sculpture, graphical works, ex-libris, photography, applied and contemporary art, icons and documentary research archives, bears witness to not only the choices which mark the co-creation of each artefact, but also to its custodians. The choices of those who have devoted their lives to its initiation, study and sharing it with the Others – the public, making the museum a space of meaning, a memory vault for all of us. For our sensitivity and instincts, for the perpetual thirst to know how the reality we inhabit is constructed, or perhaps the reality we have long left behind us in a past we cannot do without. The past that always confronts us as proof that today’s horizons are a consequence of inherited choices.

The new representative exhibition Choices presenting dozens of works from the collection of Art Gallery Kazanlak is a kind of prelude passing though the classical narrative of the history of the development of art, unfolding in parallel with that of the institution which preserves the works displayed today. The second part of the exhibition arises as a natural continuation, in which members of the public have the opportunity, as a result of their choices—that is, of their knowledge, instincts and feelings—to write their own history of art. Unimpeded by the choices of others, to step into a tale of images, an endless tale in which only those who build the future have the right to judge the past.

Come and tell us yours.