‘Worth’ is Houben Tcherkelov’s first solo exhibition in 18 years. The artist created ten art works especially for the occasion, interpretive paintings of prominent figures in Bulgarian art, such as Ivan Mrkvička, Anton Mitov, Jaroslav Věšín, Ivan Milev, depicting them on banknotes.
As a basis for his painting in recent years, the artist used visual images taken from financial documents such as banknotes, coins, checks, bonds, cogitating on the relationship between politics, finance, history, and art. Besides being a monetary token, for the artist the banknote is a visual code, a collection of symbols and signs, a means of knowing and evaluating art in terms of value. It is also a material unit for the easiest and most natural international exchange: created at different times, printed in different places, it provokes Houben in his reflections on the place of the artist and the role of art.
‘The past is never dead, it’s not even past.’ (‘Requiem for a Nun’, by William Faulkner). This quotation brings us closest to the idea of the artist: the reference points for time and space, for here and now, have disappeared, uncovering a repeatability of situations. The paintings of Ivan Mrkvička, Anton Mitov, Jaroslav Věšín, and Ivan Milev are present on banknotes printed in the 1920s at the American Banknote Co., appearing again on the art works created by Houben Tcherkelov in his New York studio, thereby being transformed into symbols of national power and identity.
Houben Tcherkelov (Houben R.T.) was born in 1970. He lives and works in New York.
In his early works—photographs, films, and installations—he depicts themes related to the period of transition in Bulgaria’s most recent history and to post-Socialist society. In his current works, he recreates images that come from financial documents, using foil and acrylic. In them, he discovers the means through which symbolic images legitimatise national identity.
His works have been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; the Brogan Museum, Florida; La Biennale di Venezia 54; and galleries in Boston, New York, and other cities.
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