75 years since the artist's birth

Dimitar Sotirov. The voice of silence

Chitalishte Prosveta 1908, Ovoshtnik

23.3.2023 — 30.6.2023

Plamen V. Petrov
Graphic designer
Georgi Sharov
Tsvetan Ignatovski
Katya Hristova
Traci Speed

The legacy of Dimitar Sotirov

Dimitar Sotirov’s artistic legacy is one of those presences in the history of Bulgarian art that remind us that our role in the global present we inhabit is not to blame or forgive, but just to understand. It is a collection of artifacts that seems to be marked by the sensibility of the artist (who left the world of the living too early, having barely reached his 60th birthday) to the atrophy of the individual that increasingly overwhelms our lives. Having overcome that fundamental need of the artist for originality, Dimitar Sotirov focused exclusively on the ordinary, whose embodiment in a drawing, a painting, or a sculpture becomes an approach to absolution – not through emotional reconciliations or justifications, but through the essential awareness of our fall. An understanding starting from an examination of form; passing through the identification of the state of real existence in which the object is born, is present, and dies; and reaching “the diagnosis of the spiritual afflictions of our time.” With the sobriety of a demiurge, with the sensibility of a poet, and with the knowledge of a philosopher, Dimitar Sotirov manifested in matter the voice of silence, elusive in the noise of our time.

In the exhibition The Voice of Silence , emphasis is placed on three small sculptural pieces, in which we might think that all of his creative legacy and personal style are reflected. Created during the period of his growth as an artist in the early 1980s, these are three works in which Dimitar Sotirov concentrates entirely on the sculptural problem of the face. Shaped from completely different materials, the works Masks, Don Quixote, and Head reveal to us the multifariousness of the artist’s small sculptures, which he will assert until his last breath – from the raw, somewhat primal expression of the form, through the meticulous work with detail, to the awe-inspiring totality of the flesh brought to pure symbolism. But these three sculptures also show us what is perhaps most important – the artist’s persistent curiosity about man and his aspiration to capture the soul that has always remained silent before the base levels of existence. A soul that the artist expresses most clearly in the shape of the face. As Georg Simmel said, “in the visible world, nothing allows for the fusion of such a great variety of forms and surfaces into an unconditional symbolic unity as the face.”

The exhibition The Voice of Silence is not only a tribute to the artist and his significant and quiet presence in the history of sculptural art in our country, but also an attempt to make sense of our own existence, in which our faces are part of the visual pandemonium of the social networks that were unimaginable just a century ago. Faces, disfigured by the hands of the “angels” of plastic surgery, which have become identified as exponents not of the individual, but of our collective fear of the meaninglessness of the daily-to-day. A fun fair of human vanity where silence is banished from our existence. The silence, the pause, the peace that used to give us the opportunity to compare, to distinguish, to hear, to understand, to know, to share, to speak. And when they do happen to appear, they seem to be the result of our own absence. Of our unconscious, alarmingly escalating inability to hear the voice of silence.

The TOGETHER program is the latest project in development of the team at the Art Gallery – Kazanlak, with which the institution aims to expand its activities and build a network of partnerships with other cultural and educational institutions operating in the Kazanlak Municipality. Within the program’s framework, guided by our desire to get closer to and collaborate with the public, our team supports the implementation of ideas from other cultural agents, ideas related to the promotion of the artistic heritage of the Valley of Roses and its contemporary presentation, understanding, and rediscovery.

This project has been carried out on the initiative of Mr. Georgi Danev, secretary of the Prosveta 1908 Cultural Centre in the village of Ovoshtnik. The team of the Art Gallery – Kazanlak expresses its gratitude to Prof. Neli Boyadzhieva and Mr. Ivan Granitski for their assistance and emotional support in the realization of the exhibition, which is part of the events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the birth of Dimitar Sotirov .

The works presented in the exhibition are part of the collection of the Art Gallery – Kazanlak.