Contemporary Icons: Recent Art From Bulgaria is a seriously impressive show at the Hunt Gallery at Webster University with internationally contending artists working in film, photography, painting, prints, and mixed media. Their works address the most pertinent issues of our time, and touch on identity, cultural memory, domestic, everyday life, humor, and the institutions that often (frustratingly) guide our lives.
The works range from the visually stunning video by Vladimir Mitrev, This Never Happened (above) which features a part static, part-changing visual landscape to Ivan Moudov’s Creation of a Museum of Contemporary Art, a point-blank explanation of the red-tape that would have to be jumped over, under, and through to allow for a construction of the title’s namesake. There’s also Kosta Tonev’s Headshot, three photographs, one of which is a visa, framed like an important degree (the humor of which, for anyone who has ever gone through the ungodly paper-work filled progress, one can literally rejoice along with).
Daniela Kostova’s mixed media installation, Decadent Eclipse, occupies the center of the gallery as a diagonally placed mattress acting as the canvas for an image of a young woman surrounded by children and reminiscent of Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus but alluding the such drama within the domestic realm. Borjana Ventzislavova’s photographic triptych, In the Name of, shows young men dressed in traditional Jewish dress and facial hair, young women dressed in traditional Muslim head-to-toe black veils, and those same people in contemporary clothing.
This exhibition is satisfying and comprehensive in terms of thematics and materials. The strong presence of the Bulgarian community at the opening speaks to the pride of the friends, families, and the supporters of the artists. The first Bulgarian art exhibition in the Midwest, the show is long overdue and does not disappoint.
Contemporary Icons: Recent Art from Bulgaria continues at the Hunt Gallery at 8342 Big Bend Blvd on the campus of Webster University through 21 April, 2012. The Hunt Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5.