Georgi Mashev (1887-1946)
130 Years Since the Artist’s Birth

12/05/2017 - 18/07/2017

The Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery in Pazardjik and the Plovdiv City Art Gallery are visiting the National Gallery with the Georgi Mashev jubilee exhibition organised by them.
The artworks on display—paintings, caricatures, and drawings—have been selected from the state collections. The majority are kept in the gallery in Pazardzhik, the hometown of the artist. The partners in this project are the Sofia City Art Gallery, the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies at the Ethnographic Museum of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Kazanlak Art Gallery and the Ruse Art Gallery.

Georgi Mashev is one of the most prominent artists of the modern Bulgarian art of the first decades of the 20th century. Today, his name evokes associations primarily related to his paintings on folkloric and symbolic thematics. Particularly popular in his oeuvre are the canvases on themes from old Bulgarian history, the series on Krali Marko, Momchil Voivoda and, last but not least, the cycle of canvases and drawings, ‘Adam and Eve’, where, by means of humour, the artist offers his own reading of the biblical theme. His art was appreciated during his lifetime; the critics expressed most flattering opinions of his participations in the general art exhibitions. His presentation at the Paris Salon of Arts in 1931 was widely noted. He was awarded for his ‘Adam and Eve’ cycle in the ‘Salon of the 100’, an authoritative association of French artist-humourists who accepted him as its member. He had friendly ties with poets, writers, and cultural figures—Konstantin Konstantinov, Dimcho Debelyanov, Hristo Yasenov, Dimitar Podvarzachov, Nikolay Liliev—who highly valued his versatile personality, intellectual potential and artistic presence. In his book of memoirs, ‘Pathway Through the Years’, the author Konstantin Konstantinov wrote: ‘In the young history of Bulgarian fine arts, Georgi Mashev is sharply distinguished from the others, unexpected and original… Today, very few know of him. However, later, to this secluded shelter where the path of Bulgarian art passes, I am confident that not merely one of the youths will return, to the starting point established by the first Bulgarian visionary in painting.’

A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Georgi Mashev was born on 1 January 1887 in Pazardzhik, the son of the National Revival teacher, Petko Mashev. He studied painting in 1906–1907 at the State School of Drawing in Sofia, under Prof. Petko Klisurov. A year later (1907–1908), he attended the Art Academy in St. Petersburg. Mashev returned to Bulgaria and studied law in Sofia for one year, before leaving for Brussels, where, between 1910 and 1911, he studied painting at the Art Academy under Prof. Edmond Richard. Following his return to his home country, he graduated in 1912 from the Industrial School of Arts (the Academy of Fine Arts) in Sofia under Prof. Ivan Mrkvička.

During the First World War, he was a war artist (1915–1918) with the Cavalry Division of the Bulgarian Army. Between 1929 and 1939, he worked as an artist at the Ministry of National Enlightenment. Under the pseudonyms Mashoka and Charni, he contributed to the newspapers ‘Osa’ [wasp], ‘Bulgar’, ‘Den’ [day], ‘Baraban’ [drum], ‘Kambana’ [chime], ‘Smyah’ [laughter], and ‘Balkan Tribune’, with caricatures and satirical drawings; his caricatures targeting Ferdinand’s regime became popular. He held his first solo exhibition in Sofia in 1915. In 1930, he worked in Paris and, in 1931, exhibited his painting, ‘Female Portrait’, at the Autumn Salon; he also participated in the ‘Exhibition of the 100’ (an exhibition of French artist-humourists) with his ‘Adam and Eve’ cycle. He was involved in the sphere of portraiture, composition, and landscape. His pictorial works are symbolically tinted, with many depicting folklorically mythological themes. He also actively painted historical compositions. In 1941, he won first prize in the competition of the Ministry of National Enlightenment for his canvas ‘Tsar Simeon Returns to Preslav after Victory’.

He died of tuberculosis in 1946 in Sofia.

Georgi Mashev is an artist who exerted a strong presence in the cultural life of Bulgaria in the period between the 1920s and the 1940s.