MAGDA ABAZOVA (1923–2011)
Centenary of the Artist’s Birth

23/11/2023 - 10/03/2024

Curator: Nadezhda Dzhakova, PhD
Design: Svetlana Mircheva

Powerful, uncompromising, provocative and diverse in her oeuvre, Magda Abazova fills her art space with colours, ideas and light, without unnecessary ostentation, lofty slogans or strident messages. The artist did not follow any particular styles, dogmas or prescriptions; she distanced herself from the trends of her time, while simultaneously anticipating them. Innovative, experimenting, searching, she was not afraid to try novel stylistic fashions and motifs, nor to return to already familiar themes and techniques. She effortlessly combined, in a single exposition, a series of interiors, portraits, still lifes and landscapes, developed figural scenes alternating with abstract compositions. Her painterly style is forceful, definitive and distinct, but also poetic, romantic and delicate.

Despite her prolific output, Magda Abazova held only a few solo exhibitions. By the 1980s, there had been only two, which explains why she was little known to the public apart from specialists and colleagues. Ivan Kirkov, Nayden Petkov, Todor Panayotov, Lyuben Zidarov—these artists were Magda Abazova’s friends and adherents. They observed that Magda was different in each successive series of paintings: unobtrusive and non-aggressive, but definitely standing out among the hundreds of other participants in the General Art Exhibitions of the 1970s and 1980s.

In the 1990s, she took part in the Process Space Art Festival. Dimitar Grozdanov, the founder of the festival, an art historian and curator, defined her as the youngsters’ favourite, one of the first Bulgarian avant-garde artists.

This exhibition recreates Magda Abazova’s poeticized reality, where the artist is a lyrical character and creator; follows Magda’s play of colour and style in all its manifoldness, but also describes distinct domains of genre and theme. The exhibition, and its bilingual catalogue (translated by Nigrita Davies), comprises over 100 works by the artist, including one of her earliest, ‘Landscape with Figure’(1948); ‘Self-portrait’ (1962), awarded the grand prize for painting by the Union of Bulgarian Artists; paintings from the cycles ‘Interiors in Koprivshtitsa’ (1969–71) and ‘Rhodope Landscapes’ (1968–72); the social compositions ‘Famine in the Volga River Region’ (1979) and ‘10 January 1944’ (1985); the large-format abstractions, including ‘Wave’ (1982) and ‘Wilderness and Nothing in It (after Buddha)’; and assemblages characteristic of her later oeuvre, such as ‘Four Boats’ (2001).

In harmony with her art, poems dedicated to Magda by Tania Kolovska, Hristo Radevski and Palmi Ranchev, contribute to the poeticisation of the space. The viewer is challenged to arrange these scattered stanzas in a complete poetic perception of her painting—lyrically monumental, metaphorical, and allegorical.

The exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of:
The Union of Bulgarian Artists; Sofia City Art Gallery; Plovdiv City Art Gallery; Boris Georgiev City Art Gallery, Varna; Ruse Art Gallery; Stanislav Dospevski Art Gallery, Pazardzhik; Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery, Gabrovo; Kazanlak Art Gallery; Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora Art Gallery, Kyustendil; Elena Karamihaylova Art Gallery, Shumen; Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery, Sliven; Smolyan Art Gallery; Dobrich Art Gallery; Stara Zagora Art Gallery; Seasons Gallery, Sofia; the Darik Collection; the Process Space Foundation; photographers Deni Krastev and Zafer Galibov; art critic and photographer Zheni Hristova, and private collectors.