VERA NEDKOVA (1906, Skopje – 1996, Sofia)
Summer, 1941

Oil on canvas; 65 x 80 cm
Hall 25

Summer is related to a series of works by Vera Nedkova, marking the beginning of her new style from the 1940s, a style clearly distinguishable from her graduation work, Three Figures in Space (in the same hall), as well as from the works that she presented at her first exhibition in Sofia. The principles of Expressionism, the solid construction, and the categorical generalised drawing, taught by her professor, Karl Sterrer, remain a constant element in her oeuvre. But here, the sharpness of form, the saturated contour, as well as the bright palette and two-dimensionality, inspired by her favourite artists of the Quattrocento, were replaced by soft and flowing forms, in an airy, richly nuanced painting filled with free brushwork in sunny warm colouration in ochres and yellows, reinforced by cobalt or intense greens.

Summer, and the other works from this series, depict frivolous compositions of figures—naked or half-dressed bodies on the beach; solid, curvaceous, massive figures occupied only with themselves. The figures are in motion, but at the same time, hushed, as if in some other dimension, gathered in a relatively narrow space brought out to the foreground. The influence of Carlo Carrà, an important representative of pittura metafisica (metaphysical painting), shows clearly—his composition from 1933 (in Hall 18) was purchased at the exhibition of contemporary Italian art in Sofia in 1935. This exhibition, her trip to Paris in 1937 for the World Expo, and the exhibition of contemporary French art in Sofia in 1940, introduced these new influences into the art of Vera Nedkova. She briefly experimented with compositions in raw green colours and contrasting pink figures reminiscent of Cézanne or Segonzak, but soon discovered her own colouration and texture.

Closest to Summer stand the Ohrid compositions with nudes and the landscapes from the summer of 1943—possibly the most effulgent and soulful works in her entire oeuvre—when she painted the beach and the narrow streets of the neighbourhood of Kaneo. This style distinguishes a series of portraits, semi-nudes, interiors and landscapes executed between 1941 and 1944, and brings warmth and atmosphere to her compositions even from that grim cult period.

A daughter of the prominent Bulgarian diplomat Todor Nedkov, Vera Nedkova spent her childhood and adolescence in Europe, graduated from the Vienna Academy, then spent a year in Italy ‘to find herself’, and returned with her family to Bulgaria only in 1934. It was then that she held her first exhibition, which was well received by the critics. She joined the Society of New Artists and the New Objectivity and, among her colleagues, was inspired with respect only for Kiril Tsonev and Bencho Obreshkov.

Summer is one of the most famous works by Vera Nedkova. It was purchased for the National Gallery at the General Art Exhibition of the Societies of Bulgarian Artists in 1941 and invariably participated in it permanent and temporary expositions.

Doroteya Sokolova