Vernissage on Thursday, 24 June, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Guided tour (in English) on 24 June at 5 p.m.
In compliance with all anti-epidemic measures and controlled access.
The river Lethe flows slowly and silently. As the poet has said, it is like a river of butter, with its flow quieter than a whisper. Elina Kechicheva is not into sentimental tales: Lethe, in Ancient Greek mythology, is a river of the underworld and known as the nymph of oblivion. Where spirits of the dead drink from the waters of Lethe to forget their earthly life.
The title and exhibition have an emotional and philosophical intensity akin to the associated mythology. Тhe show slowly crosses space within Kvadrat 500. Reminiscent of a descent into oneself, in which the viewer forgets and enters a state of psychic relaxation making one receptive to the innermost message.
To provoke these emotions, Kechicheva evidently creates the images with a great tenderness emanating from her hands. Each photograph is depicted in an artisanal manner. She shoots using photographic film and only natural light. This allows her to capture colours in the most accurate way. Her photographs represent separate fragments hung in simple wooden frames. “I do everything with considerable tenderness and love of beauty. I create images and touch upon topics that move me and want to achieve the same emotional impact they have on me.” No words, no titles – just images; her way of explaining the world through interrelated elements.
Elina Kechicheva created these works in a natural environment during the pandemic lockdown in the outskirts of Mermillon, France. Close to a nearby river, in a timeless place the artist intentionally set up shoots, photographing women in atypical poses, yet with a natural presence exuding freedom. The characters are like antique statues, almost sculptural beauties almost frozen in time like Amazons or ageless women with exceptional bodies.
The exhibition in its entirety enables the author to immerse us in philosophical tale, where nature and water symbolize spiritual purification and peace. This is the primary message of Elina Kechicheva, who grew up by the sea in the small coastal town of Chernomorets. And it is precisely this physical and mental space where we should look for the source of the river of forgetfulness, symbol of the ancient knowledge embodied in the female figures.
As Alphonse de Lamartine wrote in his “Poetical Meditations”: I have seen much, felt much, loved much in my life; And, still living, come to seek the calmness of Lethe.
Anissa Touati, Curator of the exhibition
The event is part of the Calendar of Cultural Events of Sofia Municipality for 2021 and is implemented by the MUSIZ Foundation in partnership with the National Gallery, with the assistance of VIP Division – Leica’s official representative, and with the financial support of UniCredit Bulbank
About the artist
Elina Kechicheva is a Bulgarian photographer. Living in Paris for 25 years, she was first noticed at the Hyeres festival by Patrick Remy and Michel Mallard and has since collaborated regularly with the best magazines of our time such as Vogue, Numero, W, etc. Continuously questioning the unifying link between nature and emotions, Elina has never envisioned her creations other than through uncompromising poetic engagement. Her work has been exhibited all over the world (Paris, New York, Berlin, London …). She has collaborated also with the biggest fashion houses and recently ran the DIOR Haute Couture campagne. She is currently working on her next exposition on post epidemic return to nature, elemental beauty and esthetics.
About the curator
Anissa Touati is a French exhibition maker and an independent curator trained as an archeologist. She also serves as the founding director of the cultural organization Octavia, which supports hybridity as the potential root of a harmonious community life. Since 2021, she is a member of the curatorial council of the art and history museum of Geneva. She is the former artistic director of Contemporary Istanbul, for which she has built a program reflecting on the question of mediterraneism and the former associate director of the Chalet Society. She has curated or co-curated exhibitions at institutions or galleries across the world including Turkey, Lebanon, Mexico, Argentina, the USA and France, comprising among others, the launch of the BeMa Museum in Lebanon in 2018, Cycles of collapsing progress.