PARISIAN RENDEZVOUS . Vaska Emanouilova and the city of art in 1939
The exhibition Parisian Rendezvous emphasizes a seminal topic which though understated, unwaveringly dominated the trends in Bulgarian art during the second half of the 20th century. For the Bulgarian artists the imaginary Paris was an epitome of the “cherished” European modernity seeking support in the legacy of the Classical Antiquity, and oscillating between the avant-garde and traditionalism.
In the summer of 1939, the three-million world center of culture became the meeting point of a large group of Bulgarian post-graduate students, the so-called “Bulgarian colony”. Among them was Vaska Emanouilova whose trip took place with cooperation from the First Secretary of the French Legation in Sofia, Jean Baelen. Together with Nenko Balkanski, Ivan Funev, Iliya Beshkov, Angel Valchanov, Kiril Krastev, Asen Raztsvetnikov, Vasil Gachev and many others she toured museums, cathedrals, architectural landmarks of Paris and its vicinity; during Sunday trips she visited the castles in the Loire Valley; she communicated with artists residing permanently in France – Georgi Bakardzhiev, Georgi Popov (John), Georges Papazoff. This was her first and last stay away from the motherland and what she saw during those months was of great importance for her development as a sculptress. Shortly before the German occupation of Paris, Vaska Emanouilova returned to Bulgaria, and at that point in time was the most famous and productive Bulgarian female sculptor.
The exhibition provides an opportunity for future research, and was prompted by an unpublished manuscript of Vaska Emanouilova wherein she describes her journey and the vicissitudes of the return trip. Vaska Emanouilova Gallery presents 42 works by artists who spent time in Paris in the 1930s or experienced the “Parisian spirit” – Nenko Balkanski, Georgi Popov (John), Donka Konstantinova, Iliya Beshkov. Of special interest are Beshkov’s illustrations for the book Paris – a chronical novel by Todor Genov. Along with other works of Vaska Emanouilova from the gallery’s collection and private collections, which have not been exhibited so far, there are also the notebooks in which she sketches her impressions of the Parisian museums.
The exposition has been arranged in association with the Central State Archives, L’Institut français de Bulgarie, National Art Gallery, Hristo Tsokev Art Gallery – Gabrovo, Dimitar Dobrovich Art Gallery – Sliven, Art Gallery – Kazanlak, and private collections.
Team for the exhibition: Galina Dekova, Evgenia Hristova