TO COLLECT CONTEMPORARY ART
Vladimir Iliev Collection

22/04/2021 - 25/07/2021

Curators: Ivo Milev, Boryana Valchanova

Vernissage on Thursday, 22 April, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., observing all anti-epidemic measures and with controlled access.

What place does contemporary art occupy in the artistic inventories of Bulgarian collectors? Is the ‘risk’ of collecting contemporary art justified? Isn’t contemporary art the future classic art? These are some of the questions posed by the exhibition, ‘Collecting Contemporary Art’. Its theme is the Bulgarian art scene of recent decades through the personal viewpoint of Vladimir Iliev, with a focus on the free, enduring and responsible relationship of the artist–collector. We present works by Sasho Stoitsov, Boryana Petkova, Valentin Stefanov, Krassimir Terziev, Georgi Ruzhev, Nina Kovacheva, Georgi Georgiev – Jorrras, Boris Kolev – B.A.i.L.A., Kalina Dimitrova, Stefan Ivanov, Petar Tsanev, and Iskra Blagoeva.

A COLLECTOR’S MANIFESTO
In the time of the Renaissance, the difficult creation of the free artist began: when the patron (state, ruler, church) was replaced by the collector; when, towards the end of the eighteenth century, Goethe focused the emphasis on the significance of the amateur (‘dilettante’) to the future of the arts, given his propensity to accept free artistic decisions.
After the first half of the twentieth century, art began once again to fall under the power of the state and public funding, as well as under increased speculative economic pressure. Now, following the end of ideological systems and among the allegedly liberal civilisational model, instead of the state’s pressure weakening, it becomes diffused, and the institutionalisation of the artist is ubiquitous. A freelance artist becomes a rarity. Creativity drops sharply. The public has long sunk into apathy and uncritical acceptance.
The collector is not institutionally bound; he is not a tradesperson; he does not necessarily have to be a professional in the field of arts; he remains a free amateur. Thus, through his pure, impartial interest, through trial and error, he tends to reintroduce art into the free relation of supply and demand, not as economic but as aesthetic categories.
The collector’s view is private. He does not claim to be representative; he does not monopolise; he does not generalise; he does not attribute to himself criteria and functions that he does not possess. From being an observer, along with the artist, he becomes a participant in the daily life of art.
Using his own resources—bearing the risk—the collector is personally responsible, beyond the anonymity of public funds and their collective responsibility.
Pressed by the financial capabilities of the state, the economic and political system, and competing with fashion, in order to survive in its relationship with the public and the human, contemporary art will again progress through the amateur, the ‘dilettante’, and the collector. Their difficult mission is to liberate art—always from a personal and private viewpoint.
Created in the present, contemporary art should be closest and most understandable to the contemporant, in the most direct relationship with his sensitivism. This is not always the case.
Immediate demonstrability and sustainable models of understanding are no longer sufficient: art must be understood, rediscovered, interpreted anew every time… For the public, this effort is not always worthwhile. Contemporary art is also conflictive, problematic, preoccupied with causes, provocative; and who wants to be unnecessarily perturbed?
At odds with the public on many fronts, in competition with other powerful technological media, the chance whereby contemporary art can survive and change again seems to be the amateur, the collector—with his private, risky, but responsible view.
For the collector of ‘old’ art, most choices have already been made. For the collector of contemporary art, they are forthcoming, they are his own—difficult, problematic, sometimes delusive or wrong. He is a traveller to the future, where anything is still possible.