“Aesthetics of Disgrace”
21 September 2018 – 18 November 2018
The Eliezer Alcheh and “Aesthetics of Disgrace” project focuses on the past, more specifically on that segment of the past stretching between the dates of birth and death of artist Eliezer Alshekh, namely the time between the years of 1908 and 1983. Drawing on Ruzha Marinska’s study of the artist’s work, as well as on the knowledge acquired by Rumyana Konstantinova during the preparation of the large retrospective exhibition organized in 2008 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth at the National Art Gallery in Sofia, today, ten years later, the curators of the exhibition hosted by the Sofia City Art Gallery, namely Plamen V. Petrov, Ramona Dimova, Natasha Noeva, and Nikoleta Gologanova, offer their own perspective on the artist’s past. Memories of him, documents shedding light on his personal life and professional career, and the substantial body of his work are finally being transformed into history, which helps put things in perspective. The past is rendered into a story, which does not constitute a mere succession of dates and events, but rather a narrative that could not only be read through, but also lived through and made sense of.
“Death projects its brutal and necessary separation on every nook and cranny of our lives“, wrote philosopher Jeanne Hersch in her essay From Exile to Farewell. Alshekh’s separation from Bulgaria happened in the distant year of 1928, when the Bulgarian national with Jewish blood running in his veins set off on a journey to Munich. In the decades to follow, he would live the life of a rover, a stranger until his last breath, whose work, overshadowed by labor camps, would be branded formalistic and disregarded because of that. Yes, Bulgaria and Eliezer Alshekh parted a good 90 years ago. Yet it is this separation that defines his notable and unique place in the history of Bulgarian art. The Eliezer Alcheh and “Aesthetics of Disgrace” exhibition tells the story of his earning this special recognition. The exhibition centerpiece is his 1960’s work Port by Night, a painting considered to be one of the peaks of his artistic career. The canvas will be shipped from Buenos Aires exclusively for the exhibition together with other works of the artist that have not been exhibited or published before. Featured among them are Alshekh’s first artistic attempts.
Also, the exhibition prompted the collation of a printed edition featuring the contents of the exhibition, including pictures of the artworks included and the entire volume of newly found documents providing evidence and facts about the artist that have not been published before, as well as already familiar papers by renowned Bulgarian researchers. To help shed light on the historical context of the artist’s personal life and professional career, the exhibition team asked prominent researchers such as Prof. Eugenia Kalinova, Ph. D., Rumyana Marinova-Hristidi, Ph. D., Assoc. Prof., and Alexander Sivilov, Ph. D., Assoc. Prof., to contribute research papers to the edition.
The exhibition features artworks belonging to the permanent collections of the Sofia City Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery, Sofia, the Ruse City Art Gallery, Boris DenevVeliko Tarnovo City Art Gallery, Iliya Beshkov Pleven City Art Gallery, the Kazanlak City Art Gallery, Dimitar Dobrovich Sliven City Art Gallery, the Stara Zagora City Art Gallery, the Plovdiv City Art Gallery, the City of Vratsa Museum of Regional History. Also featured are paintings from numerous private collections.
The project is brought to life in official partnership with the Faculty of History of the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, the Embassy of the Argentine Republic in the Republic of Bulgaria, and the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria Shalom.
The exhibition is organized with the patronage of His Excellency Alberto A. M. Trueba, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Argentine Republic to the Republic of Bulgaria