The unique presence of Lika Yanko (1928–2001) on the Bulgarian art scene was marked by one of her few public exhibitions, censored and closed in 1967. The reason was a number of artworks ‘not meeting the requirements’. However, this trauma did not prevent the artist, in the years to come, from tenaciously building her own childishly spontaneous and biblically wise world of images and forms. Lika Yanko is best known as a painter who went beyond the conventional concepts of expressive means through collaging various ‘accidentally’ found materials, through interweaving the abstract and figurative, through constructing forms of almost only one colour—white.
Lika Yanko’s drawings are less well known, and an acquaintance with them best reveals the intense, practically constant process of ‘rationalising’ the world through stroke and line. In order to present this aspect of the artist’s oeuvre, the National Gallery is again collaborating with the curator Ivo Milev, who has directed an innovative exposition of the artist’s previously unexhibited drawings from the collection of Vladimir Iliev and Alexander Toshev by means of multimedia technologies and specialised lighting. Created between the early 1970s and the mid-1990s, these sketches represent an essential element of Lika Yanko’s creative process and biography. Through them, clearly recognisable and unique, the linear style that she later developed in her canvases of that time can be traced. Highlights of the exhibition include several canvases from the artist’s bequest to the National Gallery, made shortly before her death in 2001.