Alexander Petrov (1916-1983)

21/02/2019 - 27/04/2019

The National Gallery presents 190 paintings, drawings, lithographs and sketches by Alexander Petrov. He was one of the artists fashioning the image of Bulgarian art during the second half of the 20th century. His art of painting combines the synthesised plasticity of the image with the national in terms of spirit and subject matter, a particular characteristic of Bulgarian art of the 1960s.

The artist was born in the Varna village of Nevsha in 1916, into the family of a railwayman. In 1934, he graduated from the Secondary School in Stara Zagora. A year later, he was admitted to the Art Academy and specialised in painting, under Prof. Boris Mitov. After graduating in 1940, he began to exhibit as a guest in the salons of the Society of New Artists and, from 1943, as a full member.

Following the events of September 1944, he served at the front as a volunteer war artist. He produced a large number of drawings for front-line and central newspapers. In 1948, his painting, ‘Landing in Drava’, was included in the Bulgarian exposition of the Venice Biennale. Throughout his oeuvre, Alexander Petrov worked on the comprehension and synthesis of Bulgarian plastic culture and Western European art. In 1960, he travelled to Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva—where he created his Central Asia Cycle. In the late 1960s, the artist visited the Karlovo village of Bogdan. Inspired by the Rose Valley, he composed his significant Rose Picking Cycle. Labour, love, motherhood, and the sea, represent major themes in his artworks. The motif of lavender picking became his emblem, and his colleagues called him Alexander Petrov – Lavandulata. The artist brought back many drawings, sketches and aquarelles from his multiple trips to Paris.

The exhibition includes artworks from the major cycles in the oeuvre of Alexander Petrov. They are owned by the family of the artist, and the collections of the National Gallery and the Sofia City Art Gallery.

Suzana Karanfilova