Prof. Milena Georgieva is the curator of the exhibition
The Sofia City Art Gallery marks 120 years since Ivan Penkov’s birth by a camera exhibition of the artist’s portrait sketches and drawings. Arranged by topic and chronology, the exhibition shows more than 140 works that are shown publicly for the first time. They are part of Ivan Penkov’s artistic archive and have been carefully preserved by his children Boyan and Johny Penkovi in their private collection.
The drawing is usually considered a supporting genre that captures the artistic idea. In this sense, it carries the intimacy and novelty of the first experience of nature, people and objects. When an artist like Ivan Penkov is gifted with the ability to capture instantly a person’s nature, and the hand in turn immediately puts it on paper, the result is a discerning portrait. Sometimes this image has been carried for years, has taken shape through lasting friendships or fleeting sympathies, and has gone through psychological and moral judgments in order to be materialised by a carefully selected graphic technique – pencil, India ink, drawing charcoal, and distemper.
The drawing in Ivan Penkov’s works carries an individual philosophy. For him it is both soul and prayer, while the portrait drawing is an experiment in contemplating about the person posing but also an attempt to capture the actual realities and details through the image. The exhibition introduces us to his portrait works from various years, and to his fellow artists, close friends, and interesting personalities that Penkov particularly valued. The two Bohemian albums “produced” in Munich and Sofia for his friends and many self-portrait sketches are shown for the first time – a life balance at the end of his road but also an opportunity for formal experiments.
The Sofia City Art Gallery would like to thank Georgi (Johny) Penkov for his commitment to the exhibition, as well as to the artist’s grandson Ivan Penkov for his support with the preparation of the exhibition.