100 years since the birth of Hristo Pesev

Overlapping images

Dechko Uzunov House Museum

29.8.2023 — 8.10.2023

Katya Hristova
Graphic designer
Georgi Sharov
Lora Sultanova
Traci Speed

Hristo Pesev graduated from the Academy of Art in Sofia in 1955, where he studied in the sculpting studio of Ivan Funev. The teacher who would exert the greatest influence on his growth as an artist, however—as well as on the art of sculpture in Bulgaria from the latter half of the 20th century in general—was Lyubomir Dalchev. Exactly twenty years later, on the occasion of Hristo Pesev’s first solo exhibition, Lyubomir Dalchev would write: “He is not only gifted, but also possesses a quality that few have. This is his immense creative will – the motor that drives the talent, the motor that creates the artist. And truly, his realization as a sculptor is in full swing. He achieves successes, and they are there to be seen. And these successes are neither small nor insignificant. He builds his worldview and thus arrives at his personal vision. He continues to learn – so he develops, he tolerates influence – this is inevitable; the most important thing is that he achieves results. The bud that has blossomed bears abundant fruit. His creative sensitivity, his instinct for structure, simplicity, and form facilitate it. His insight guides him.”

The influences, the changes of the day, the images constantly overlapping in the mind that we look at minute by minute, rearrange, and rethink in an attempt to create our personal and creative individuality – these are all things that shape the artist. To what extent is influence a mechanical process, and to what extents is it the spiritual climate that the artist transforms into a new creative reality through his own experiences, because “the artist can always realize only the possibilities inherent in him, regardless of what he imitates, which leader he follows, what school he has passed through, or what stalk he rises up on.”

The exhibition Overlapping Images is precisely an attempt to find the points of intersection between the two sculptors in search of an answer to the question of to what extent influence is a one-sided process or is a logical symbiosis born of the creative process. Studying the endeavours of Hristo Pesev in his works, a large part of which are kept in the Art Gallery – Kazanlak, we can see how diverse they are not only in terms of subject, but also in terms of means of expression and plastic style. The sculptures shown in the exhibition were also included in the last major exhibition that Hristo Pesev arranged in Kazanlak in 1984, all works from which he then donated to the Art Gallery – Kazanlak. The focal points of the exhibition are oriented in two directions—the thematic influences from Lyubomir Dalchev, which we can see in Motherhood, For Freedom, Militiaman, and the plastic ones—the approach to working with the material and the construction of the figures through large, generalized masses with an opposition of forms that is clearly visible in the sculptures presented in the exposition. In one case or other, however, we witness Hristo Pesev’s ability to make use of external influences and assimilate them through his own sensibility in more than one attempt to answer for himself the eternal question of where the Others end and I begin.

The team of the Art Gallery – Kazanlak thanks the art historian Krassimir Iliev for the assistance provided in the preparation of the exhibition. All the works included in the exhibition, which marks the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, are part of the collection of the Art Gallery – Kazanlak. The exhibition is part of the Holidays in the Valley of the Thracian Kings 2023 program.