on the 130th anniversary of the artist’s birth

5/01/2021 - 28/03/2021

Vernissage on Thursday, 7 January, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., observing all anti-epidemic measures and with controlled access.

It is 130 years since the birth of Nikola Tanev—both literally and figuratively one of the most colourful of Bulgarian artists. Through archival documents, sketches and paintings from the National Gallery’s stock and the collection of Nedelin Petrov, the exhibition at the National Gallery pinpoints the geography of Tanev’s travels. Always carried out within range of Europe, they were also homecomings—to the native, the domestic: the well-known and the invariably different.

No other Bulgarian artist travelled as extensively as Nikola Tanev. This was his way of life: to collect impressions in order to work, to display and sell his paintings. His journeys were a major source of inspiration and income. He also travelled for enjoyment, occasionally as an attempt to make a clean start, as a joyful escape, but sometimes as a sad return to the bygone.
Over almost forty years, Tanev toured a significant part of Europe: Paris, Venice, Rome, Milan, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Bonn, Cologne, Hamburg, London, Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Zagreb, Belgrade, Budapest, Bucharest, and so on, and so on, reaching the periphery of the Orient. He roamed over all of Bulgaria: the Sub-Balkans, Thrace and the Rhodopes, the Black Sea coast and Dobrudzha, and the ancient towns and villages. There was hardly any means of transport that the artist did not use. While travelling, he observed, sketched, painted, sent hundreds of letters—many of them beautifully illustrated—kept detailed visual diaries, and took photographs, before carefully arranging and labelling the pictures in albums.

Some of the oils and drawings are presented in the curator’s authorial design; the display of others hints at postcards, so popular in the days of the artist. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, where the illustrative material is supplemented with quotations from Nikola Tanev’s recollections and photos from the National Gallery’s archives.

The exhibition was prepared and arranged in December 2020; however, owing to the epidemic situation, we present it to the public only now, at the beginning of 2021.