As an aesthetic and social phenomenon of the modern epoch, of all the figurative forms, poster art reflects most accurately, clearly and trenchantly the political and social climate of the times. All too often anonymous, a true ‘child of the street’, the poster is the fastest in reaching its viewers. It must influence with its clarion-call power, be a slogan, a sign, a spell, or a symbol: to persuade and to galvanise into action.
The history of the Bulgarian political poster during the 20th century has had its peaks and troughs. It became a banner of the left-wing forces between the two world wars, proclaiming the new social ideas of the times. In the first few years following 9 September 1944, artists with no special training in the sphere of poster art—graphic artists and painters—paved the way for the Bulgarian poster, searching for and finding its essence, specificity and means of expression. During the period of Stalin’s cult of personality, the Bulgarian poster turned into an ersatz image of itself, subordinating itself to the debased criteria and directives of normative aesthetics. During the 60s, 70s and 80s, several generations of professionally trained poster artists elevated this art to the modern level, while the variety of their plastic views determined the character of the Bulgarian poster school.
The exhibition, ‘The New Political Poster’, is a joint project of the Museum of Socialist Art and the National Academy of Art. It offers a different point of view, a new focus on the thematic issues of the museum institution. In addition, it provides an opportunity for the youngest generation of Bulgarian poster artists to express themselves. I am certain that, in achieving their academic tasks, students have faced all the challenges of that most complex and specific genre variety of the poster—the political theme. Today, it is liberated from the ideological press of the time, from political and aesthetic ‘considerations’, from the dictates of the investor in the face of party and state. The question of what the new face of Bulgarian political poster art, and what its public resonance, will be, remains.
I think that this exhibition is relevant both to the issues it addresses and to the dialogue between the museum and its public. In it, I see a chance to assess the ability of creative and public consciousness, its reaction, understanding and attitude to the social issues of the present day.