May 19 – July 14 2021
The UBA Gallery, 6 Shipka Str., Sofia
Boris and Slavka Denevsʼ artistic heritage, notable for its significance and volume, has been the subject of numerous studies. This exhibition followed the development of those two artistsʼ styles, of their views on art and life, glimpsed at the unlit zones of their creativity, the intimate world of their friendships, ambitions, ideals. Many documents, photographs and paintings were shown for the first time ever.
Curators and compilers of the book/album were Anton Staykov and Svoboda Tsekova
This exhibition is dedicated to two artists: father and daughter. The birth of the father and the death of the daughter mark the beginning and end of a century of prosperity and wars, of hopes, of authoritarian regimes and stagnation. Boris Denev (1883 – 1969) was a central figure in Bulgarian cultural and public life between the Great Wars. He was a painter, military artist, inventor, writer, educator, an inseparable part of the artistic bohemia in Sofia, husband of Mara Grozeva, who was the daughter of a prominent industrialist, former Mayor of Sofia. Their only child, Slavka Denev (1929 – 1984) grew up in their family home at 18 Shipka Str., surrounded by books, music, home performances, and also by intriguing personalities and her father’s paintings. The Second World War and the bombings of the capital city disrupted her carefree childhood. The new regime, established in Bulgaria after the September 1944 coup, changed fatefully Denevs’ lives. Slavka’s mature years coincided entirely with the communist period. At first she was pronounced “the daughter of an enemy of the people”, then the qualification changed to “eccentric and marginalized individual”. Yet, behind the walls of her home, Slavka built a world of her own. She looked after her parents until their deaths, and managed to bring together a circle of close friends with whom she shared the joy of intellectual exchange. Despite the restrictions imposed by the regime and the material hardships she and her family had to endure, she rose to become an artist of her own independent and recognizable stature.
The exhibition and the catalog are based on extensive research on the artistic heritage and the family archive of the Denevs, bequeathed to the UBA by Slavka Denev in the last months of her life. The exhibition included works, photographs, objects and documents property of the UBA and works loaned the collections of: Petko Zadgorski city gallery, Burgas; Boris Georgiev city art gallery, Varna; Boris Denev art gallery, Veliko Tarnovo; the Art Gallery of Dobrtich; Ilia Beshkov gallery, Pleven; Ilia Petrov gallery, Razgrad; the City Gallery of Art, Plovdiv; the art galleries of Pernik and Russe; Dimitar Dobrpovich gallery, Sliven; the Indzhov gallery, Plovdiv; the specialized Museum of Woodcarving and Zography, Triavna and Ivan Savov.
The project was implemented by the financial support of the Union of Bulgarian Artists and the Culture program of the Sofia Municipality.