Vernissage on Tuesday, 2 November, from 6 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., observing all anti-epidemic measures and with controlled access.
Performance from 7 p.m. in the atrium.
The exhibition will be open for visiting from November 4.
With his exhibition at Kvadrat 500—a selection of iconic works and new projects—Vassil Simittchiev returns with all the power of his artistic discoveries, with the results of his long journey in contemporary culture. Ivo Milev is the project’s curator.
As part of the restoration of Georgi Dimitrov’s Mausoleum in the mid-1970s, the young sculptor Vassil Simittchiev was commissioned to create the bronze wreaths around the sarcophagus. The reward for this prestigious order was an international passport, with which the artist managed to leave the country… to become a ‘non-returnee’ and settle in Sweden. Independent of the dictates of political and artistic conformism, one of ‘Sweden’s foremost conceptualists was born’, wrote the prominent Swedish art critic Dan Jönsson. ‘After Christo’s boundless scale, there is no other Bulgarian possessed of such determination, global artistic vision, and creative scope,’ says his fellow countryman, Prof. Stanislav Pamukchiev of the artist.
Large-scale projects carried out in Sweden are always at the centre of a conflict zone. This is one of the reasons some of his ideas remained only on the drawing board. For example, in the thick of the Cold War, Simittchiev proposed that part of the paving in Moscow’s Red Square be replaced with a grass carpet from the lawn in front of the White House. An idea that, facing an insuperable political will, of course remained unrealised. Or his project to ‘connect’ Denmark to Sweden through a piece of music whose score was based on the unevenness of the seabed in the Øresund Strait. Years later, the two countries became connected by the brute force of concrete and iron of Europe’s longest bridge. Or the ‘conservation’ of the Mausoleum in Sofia, clashing with intolerance towards the past… Or the assiduously prepared and well-calculated concept to transport the water from a Swedish lake to the courtyard of the Royal Palace in Stockholm…
Vassil Simittchiev is a conceptual artist in the fullest sense of the word. Ideas are the raw material of his art and, as he says, once realised, they lose half their power. Some of his earliest but most viable experiments point in this direction: projects for water pools implemented in various places in the late 1970s. The largest were designed for the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm and for a city park in Malmö.
His world-renowned work is undoubtedly ‘The Glass Quay’ in Malmö (1985). The six square kilometres of the old harbour quayside were covered with tons of glass plates, while the artist directed the rumble of crushing glass under the weight of trucks driven across them. Here, too, the collision of stone and glass, of the heavy, thick, hard, with the thin, transparent, brittle, fragile, was at the core of the project. This was a grandiose visual and aural spectacle, with formidable ideological and aesthetic suggestions, placing it among the most significant art of its kind in the world.
The recognition of Simittchiev as one of the most powerful contemporary conceptual artists in Sweden led to his being invited as a professor at the University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, where he headed the Monumental Sculpture Department. He founded and ran the Free Academy of Experimental Art, developed an innovative programme for the intervention of art in the social environment, conducting along with his students numerous sculptural installations, actions, performances, and conceptual projects in the public domain.
The exhibition is organised in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden and funded by the Ministry of Culture under the Movable Cultural Heritage, Museums and Visual Arts Programme.