Gallery (14)

Hristo Berberov (1875–1948) and his legacy

Sources of information about events from a century ago have become increasingly scarce and difficult to find today. Echoes of the past are the preserved oral memories, passed down from grandparents to grandchildren, from mothers and fathers to sons and daughters. Another type of memory that is scattered and disappears forever, not collected and recorded in a timely manner, consists of photographs, documentary and artistic information about the history of a family. Our goal was to gather this fragmented and fading information, to systematise and analyse it, in order to crown the biography of a person and an artist with a jubilee exhibition and a bilingual, richly illustrated monograph.

The project Echoes. Hristo Berberov and His Legacy presents the life and career of the artist Hristo Berberov. Events and dates from his biography were updated and clarified. The earliest information about him is from the distant 1894, when as a student at the Royal Albertina Academy in Turin he participates in the First Exhibition of the Society for the Support of Art in Bulgaria displaying Bear Handlers, A Girl from Shopluk, and Male Nude. Publications about the artist over the decades have been rare. We find references to him in articles in specialized magazines such as The Art, Art Culture, and The Artist in connection of his participation in mixed art exhibitions. The work of the artist Hristo Berberov was also the subject of commentary in the second half of the twentieth century in the general context of larger studies on Bulgarian art.

Today, we, the successors, after more than a century, are given the opportunity to objectively tell the whole story of the artist Hristo Berberov – to discover, hear and record some of its reverberations. Looking at the works of Hristo Berberov today, I find his style an exciting taste between Romantic Realism and Symbolist allusion. The ‛touch‛ of Symbolism is the reason why his contemporaries noticed his artwork – commenting succinctly on the style of the artist. And it is transcendental – seeking truths beyond the real. Thus, on the border between the two centuries and onwards, depending on the idea, on the inner impulses, on the accumulated life and artistic experience, the panoramic majestic mountain landscapes with which Hristo Berberov participates in the artistic life of the country have a quiet and cool nature, as if painted for eternity. The artist penetrates with a deep emotional feeling of admiration and humbleness beyond the mountain landscape, and in female portraits he passes through the external image of the portrayed with love and trembling dreaminess in order to reach higher spiritual levels. In the later architectural compositions, the artist excludes human existence from the painting. The focus is on the deserted environment, the still image of the Revival home, rising as the bearer of another value system, forgotten according to the artist. Symbolism in the paintings of Hristo Berberov is implied, ethereal, placing conceptual emphases on universality, permanence, inner beauty and significant human values, and that is reason why the visual harmonies created in the first half of the 20th century rank Hristo Berberov among the artists with a taste for Symbolism.

Angela Daneva

Bulgarian-European Cultural Dialogue Centre