All Illustrations for Iliya Gramatikoff’s Book ‘The Instrumental Concertos by Gheorghi Arnaoudov: Surrealistic Rereadings of Musical History’

8/06/2021 - 8/08/2021

Vernissage on Tuesday, 8 June, from 5:00 to 7:00 p. m., in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures and with controlled access.

The exhibition presents over 250 works from the latest graphic art by Yassen Panov. All of them are illustrations, created in the period February–June 2020 for the first deluxe edition of Iliya Gramatikoff’s new musicological research, The Instrumental Concertos by Gheorghi Arnaoudov: Surrealistic Rereadings of Musical History (IAS – BAS, 2020).

The illustrations take the form of digital collages, integrating original drawings and various other graphic material from diverse historical epochs and styles, ultimately creating an entirely new and distinctly phantasmagorical visual narrative that seemingly drifts beyond the course of time and at the same time roams around layers of history.

Although conceived as a whimsical figurative accompaniment to a text, musicological as genre and musical in structure and verbal expression, Panov’s collages go beyond an illustration’s conventional decorative function as they are placed in a situation of constructive and creative dialogue with Gramatikoff’s text. Some interpret the ideas presented in the text through pictorial means, others add new layers of meaning through intertextual correlations encoded in the graphic elements; yet others express in images the spirit of Arnaoudov’s music that is being analysed.

Such semantic and artistic interaction is possible owing to the similar creative approach in Arnaoudov’s compositions and Panov’s collages. In the book, Gramatikoff describes one of the key aspects of this approach—a tireless rereading that seeks to give new meaning to and build upon the means of expression from different historical epochs in order to metamorphose them into a homogeneous artistic language rich in allusions to the past, but that nevertheless remains decidedly modern and original. This is the language in which the two authors imagine history in order to be able to recreate it artistically in the form of unheard-of musical and visual narratives.

The exhibition showcases the artistic results of an edition unprecedented in modern scientific publishing—an interdisciplinary book of multifarious status. On the one hand, it offers a structure-wise experimental and realisation-wise unconventional scientific text; a musicological study, constructed as a musical form by means of verbal analogues of compositional techniques, in which the author—without straying from the strictly scientific discourse—writes in the broadest possible horizon from a humanities perspective and seeks support from additional correlations of meaning in the various arts. On the other hand, this edition is a collection of numerous graphic works, offering both an image of the ideas examined in the text, as well as a brushstroke and colour interpretation of the music that inspired the research. Finally, some of the music was in turn inspired by earlier graphic works by the book’s designer and illustrator.

The exhibition further develops the potential of the illustrations through the possibility of perceiving them also as completely independent works of art, forming new semantic connections in relation to each other by being placed in a different spatial context—that of the exhibition gallery. Accompanied by recordings of some of Gheorghi Arnaoudov’s compositions, selected as the main objects of study in Iliya Gramatikoff’s text, the illustrations exhibited by Yassen Panov have been redistributed thematically in a print run of 135 graphic works, which narrate and imag(in)e real and fictional music stories.

Assoc. Prof. Iliya Gramatikoff, PhD, exhibition curator