Portraits by Zlatyu Boyadzhiev

The Boyan Radev Collection

19/05/2018 - 28/02/2019

This exhibition is part of the rich array of Bulgarian art of the collector Boyan Radev, and presents one of Bulgaria’s significant painters, Zlatyu Boyadjiev (1903–1976), through his work in the genre of portraiture.

The portrait was a prominent part of the artist’s oeuvre ever since the beginning of his career in the 1930s. His first models were the closest of family and friends, whose images come to life on the canvas with the assuredness and maturity of an artistic outlook uncharacteristic of a young painter. ‘Female Portrait’, 1932, and ‘Portrait of the Artist’s Mother’, 1936, exhibited here, date from that time—striking exemplars of his qualities, not only as a painter, but also as a psychologist capable of accurately capturing the character and condition of his model. These works, as plastic language, are typical of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev’s early oeuvre, characterised by an expressive purity of line of the plastic form and an overall graphic impression.

The group of portraits painted after 1951 demonstrates a different approach to their plastic execution, as the artist, following his stroke and paralysis of the right hand, began painting with the left. His style became different, with expressively laid, short applications of paint in pure colour, and with a specific dynamic of the brush achieving complex pictorial texture. The series of works of this major group include the exhibited portraits of Vasil Stoilov, Hristo Neykov, Maria Stolarova, Bogomil Raynov, Katia Paskaleva, and other famous or unknown characters. At first glance, in his portraits, it is the impeccable ‘grasp’ of the character and that eloquence in the original laconicism of the means of expression typical of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, that grip us. We feel the artist’s warm, friendly attitude towards the model and we entertain ourselves with the way it is interpreted.

The portrait of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, unknown to the public, painted by his friend, the great Bulgarian artist David Peretz (1906–1982), is exceptional in its suggestion. It is no coincidence that the monumental appearance of the image naturally dominates the portrait gallery in order to remind the viewer of the powerful presence of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev in Bulgarian art of the 20th century.

Aneliya Nikolaeva