Why So Serious? - solo exhibition of Houben Tcherkelov
Paintings, sculpture
(November 21,2020 - March 31, 2021, Room 6)

Why So Serious is the first solo exhibition of 14 works by NY-based Bulgarian artist Houben Tcherkelov at the Museum of Humour and Satire in Gabrovo. Best known for his money paintings, the artist also shows sculptures made between 2002 and 2019, alongside new work made for the exhibition.

The exhibition title borrows a line from a scene of the Batman movie The Dark Knight, where the Joker recollects a childhood memory. “Why So Serious?” his father asks him during a family fight, as he slides a knife through the sides of the child’s mouth to form an eternal scar-smile. The Joker is fascinated by money, which he nonetheless cannot treat seriously. Like о the Joker, Houben Tcherkelov is also fascinated by money. He appropriates images from banknotes and coins and has made this a lasting subject in his work since 2003.

The exhibition includes four series of works based on money: one dedicated to Benjamin Franklin, who besides his political career was also a humorist (he compiled The Drinker's Dictionary), another dedicated to Cervantes and his character Don Quixote (also recognized as a symbol of the Museum of Humour, thanks to a landmark statue in front of the building made by sculptor Georgi Chapkanov), two works dedicated to Mark Twain and his literary work, and a Darth Vader mask (the Star Wars villain, surprisingly, is featured on coins from New Zealand).

Who is Houben Tcherkelov?

Houben Tcherkelov (Bulgarian, also known as Houben R.T.) was born on January 23, 1970. He lives and works in New York. In his early photographs, films, and installations, post-communist society is a recurrent theme. In his more recent work, Tcherkelov paints images from national currencies using foil and acrylic. His works have been featured at The Bronx Museum, NY, The Brogan Museum, FL, the 54th Venice Biennial, and galleries in New York, Boston, Washington and Charlotte.

The artist about his work:

”My paintings are a way to enter into a dialogue with different subjects, different eras, and different ideologies. In currencies, many cultures are manifest in the most clear and direct way. Sometimes this communication is subtle, but often it is overt. As an artist, I translate and distill images on money into an artistic product that will receive its own value and, ultimately, be moved into exchange in the same way as currency.
The representation of money stands in for this desire; whereas previous generations of Pop Art reflected the desire for material objects, the depiction of images from currency may represent an evolution in consumption from material goods to net worth.

A catalogue with texts by Dimitar Kambourov, Deyan Kiuranov, Nada Nesheva, and Georgi Tenev has been published in conjunction with the exhibition. The book would not have been possible without the generous support of Chariot Motors Inc. On 21 November, Saturday, from 11:00 a.m., the film Houben Paints Money (dir. Georgi Tenev, 2011) will be screened at the Museum.

Cartoon Salon 2020
/October 23, 2020 - January 31, 2021, Room 5/

45th National Cartoon Exhibition 2020 - guest exhibition

For the first time in its 45th history, the National Cartoon Exhibition will be officially opened at the Museum of Humor and Satire in Gabrovo. The anti-epidemic conditions in the country require the 145 cartoons of 38 authors to be displayed completely "disinfected, distanced and disciplined", and the awards ceremony announcing this year's winners obliges us all to be "masked" as well. With a deep sense of gratitude and respect, the exhibition also includes original works from the museum art collection by cartoonists Velin Andreev, Ivan Kutuzov-Kuti, Stoyan Dukov and Fiko Fikov, who recently changed their earthly residence for a brighter world, where they could continue creating their cheerful drawings.

The winner of this year's award of the Museum of Humor and Satire is Halit Kurtulmush-Aytoslu, and among the other awarded cartoonists are Svetlin Stefanov, Stoyan Dechev, Lyubomir Mihaylov, Maya Cholakova, Milko Dikov, Nikola Georgiev-Kayo and Tsocho Peev.

7: 0 for the Cartoon - solo exhibition of Lyubomir Mihaylov

The exhibition features 51 cartoons and celebrates the artist’s 70th anniversary. The partnership of the Museum of Humor and Satire with Lyubomir Mihailov is of many years; the result - 33 original works treasured in the museum art collection.

Born on September 26, 1950 in Kavarna, Lyubomir Mihaylov has graduated in civil engineering in Sofia and self-made himself as an artist. He has interests mainly in the field of cartoon, illustration, book layout, poster art and graphic design.
He has worked as an artist in the Tehnika publishing house, Sofia; on the editorial-boards of A Propos almanac, Gabrovo and Starshel newspaper; he was designer and artist of the magazine FEP (Fiction, Heuristics, Prognostics); chief artist of the children's magazine Dino and Dina and PC magazine (Post Scriptum). He is the author of numerous film posters for the former Cinema Distribution Enterprise, Boyana and hundreds of covers and illustrations for almost all publishers before 1989. For several years he was a regular contributor to the magazines Nebelspalter, Eulenspigel and Index on Censorship. Today he does children's illustrations and designs textbooks for the publishing houses Prosveta, Bulvest - 2000, Anubis, Ariadna, Abagar and others.
Lyubomir Mihaylov has participated in exhibitions of cartoons, illustrations, posters and graphics in Bulgaria and abroad. He has received many awards, some of which he deems very prestigious.
He has shown solo cartoon exhibitions in Sofia, Varna, Gabrovo, Balchik and at the International Congress Center in Davos, Switzerland.
He has been a member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists since 1982; in the period 2005-2015 he chaired the Cartoon section at the UBA.

30 + 30 - solo exhibition of Svetlin Stefanov

The title of the exhibition suggests that this artist is also celebrating an anniversary this year. He turns 60, so he presents 30 cartoons and 30 pieces of small sculpture at the 2020 Cartoon Salon. The museum art collection holds 12 works by Svetlin Stefanov.
Born in 1960 in Tryavna, Svetlin Stefanov has graduated in woodcarving in his hometown, and has later majored in Fine Arts at the Teachers' Institute in Dupnitsa.
He has been drawing cartoons since 1986 and has had over 800 publications in 52 periodicals in Bulgaria, including Starshel, Anteni, Standart, Spektar, Smyah and others. He has participated in a number of international cartoon competitions in Canada, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Iran, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. Since 1989 he has been a regular participant in the Gabrovo International Biennial.
Svetlin Stefanov won a prize from the cartoon competition in Marostica, Italy; first prize for cartoon at the festival Fun-Loving Balkans, Gabrovo; second prize and silver plaque from Kragujevac, Serbia; third prize from the 27th National Cartoon Exhibition of Union of Bulgarian Artists; the award of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria at the 42nd edition of the National Cartoon Exhibition and others.
He has shown solo exhibitions in Serbia, Romania, twice at the House of Humor and Satire, and five times in his hometown.
He has been a member of the UBA, Cartoon section, since 2000. He has his own studio for woodcarving and satirical sculpture in Tryavna, where he has been working for 30 years now.

100 Years of Tryavna Art School - guest exhibition
Icons, carved furniture, woodcarvings, drawings, designs
(October 16 - November 30, 2020, Room 7)

The exhibition is part of the program celebrating 100 years since the establishment of the Tryavna Revival School of Icon Painting and Wood Carving. Much more modest in time, but distinctive enough, is the history of cooperation between the House of Humor and Satire and the National High School of Applied Arts in Tryavna to the end of promoting the production of school graduates in the form of Christmas bazaars, joint exhibitions with other secondary art schools in Bulgaria, reviews of diploma theses and a memorable solo exhibition of an already established Bulgarian artist - Venelin Shurelov - in 1996. The same year the association Ludi-mladi (Madcap) was set up as a means to preserve and develop authentic arts and crafts and national traditions in Bulgarian culture.

The National High School of Applied Arts Tryavna School in the town of Tryavna preserves and develops the traditions of the Tryavna National Revival Icon Painting and Woodcarving School by providing professional training to students from all over the country in three specialties – Wood Carving Art, Interior Design and Icon Painting.

The idea for the establishment of the school dates back to the second half of the 19th century and belongs to the great National Revival artist Nikolay Pavlovich, who in 1861 paid a visit to Tryavna at the invitation of writer Petko R. Slaveykov. The aim was to preserve local craft traditions in the field of artistic woodworking. In fact, this was the first decisive step towards the resuscitation of the arts and crafts and the national traditions, whose functions and significance were on the wane after the Liberation.

From its inception until the present day, the school went through various forms of development. It opened in 1920 as a state carpentry school, and was later a technical high school of urban planning and a vocational school of woodcarving and interior architecture. In 1976 it became a secondary art school specialized in applied arts; in 2009 it transformed itself into a National High School of Applied Arts. Currently, the National High School of Applied Arts Tryavna School is a state cultural institute to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Over the years, the school has come to be a cultural center attracting talented teachers, many of whom have graduated from prestigious universities and academies outside Bulgaria. Among them are Ivan Hristov, Atanas Vassilev, Tsanyo Antonov, Dimitar Drumev and others.

This exhibition features works created in the last three years by 12-grade students doing Interior Design, Wood Carving Art and Icon Painting.

Alyosha and the Cat - a project by Katharina Swoboda and Kamen Stoyanov
(June 19 - September 30, 2020, Stefan Fartunov Room)

Alyosha and the Cat is an installation comprising a film about an unusual encounter in front of the Monument to Alyosha on the Bunardzhika hill in Plovdiv and some archival photographs. Through the means of the song, the film shows two different points of view on the monument, its prehistory and how mythologies are born. The main characters Vasil and Katarina respond to the Alyosha song, created in 1966 and enjoying great popularity, with the Alexey Skurlatov song, specially composed for the film.

Katharina Swoboda was born 1984 in Graz, Austria. Katharina’s work is predominantly video-based, but she works in photography, installation art and performance art always in relation to moving images, as well. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

She has participated in national and international exhibition including: 2018 Kunsthalle Luzern, Switzerland (2018 ); WRO Media Art Biennial, Wroclaw, Poland (2017); 2017 BJCEM Young Artist Biennial, Tirana, Albania (2017 ); Manhattan Bridge, New York, USA, (2017); Corner College Zurich, Switzerland (2017); Vladimir Nazor Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia (2017). Solo exhibitions include FLUCA - Austrian Cultural Pavilion, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2019); SewonArtSpace, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2018); Gallery Klubovna, Brno, CZ (2016) and others.

Katharina Swoboda has received several awards and scholarships, including Façade Video Prize, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2018) and artist-in-residency by the Austrian chancellery, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2018).

Kamen Stoyanov was born 1977 in Ruse, Bulgaria. He lives and works in Vienna and Sofia. He holds a diploma in painting from the National Art Academy Sofia and a diploma in Visual Arts and Cultural Studies from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Kamen Stoyanov´s films, videos, actions, installations, photographic works and performances have been presented at many exhibitions festival and biennials worldwide, including: IN THE PALACE, International Short Film Festival, Varna, Bulgaria (2019);City Art Gallery of Ljubljana, Slovenia, (2019); 24th Gabrovo Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Bulgaria, (2019); Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria (2019); Sariev Contemporary, Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2019); Kunsthalle Baden - Baden, Germany (2018); International Video Art Festival, Moscow, Russia (2018); Ask the Artist, Sariev Contemporary, Plovdiv, Bulgaria 2017); WRO Media Biennale Wroclaw, Poland, (2017); SPIELART Festival, Munich, Germany (2015); Transmediale Berlin (2014); Camera Austria, Graz, Austria (2013); 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, (2010); Aichi Triennale, Nagoya, Japan (2010); Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary (2010); MANIFESTA 7, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Trentino, Italy (2008); Gyumri 6th International Biennial of Contemporary Art 2008, Gyumri , Armenia (2008); MUMOK, Vienna (2008).

He has received numerous awards including: Austrian Federal Ministry, artist-in-residency, Mexico City (2019); Gleis70, artist-in-residency, Zurich (2016); MAK Schindler Artists and Architects-in- Residence Program in Los Angeles (2012); The Sovereign European Art Prize (2011); Otto Mauer Award, Austria (2011); Walter Koschatzky Art Award (2011); Art Prize Europe´s Future, Leipzig, Museum of Contemporary Art (2008); MUMOK Prize for the Zone1 at VIENNAFAIR (2007); Prize for Visual Arts of the City of Vienna, Austria (2007).

Alyosha and the Cat is a project created and implemented within the ADATA artist-in-residence programme of Plovdiv 2019 - European Capital of Culture, and with the additional support of the Austrian Otto Mauer Fund.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere / 100 Years of Czech Comics - guest exhibition
(June 19 - December 31, 2020, Stefan Fartunov Room)

The exhibition Meanwhile, Elsewhere, celebrating 100 years of Czech comics, is organized in partnership with the Czech Cultural Center in Sofia and will be on in Gabrovo until the end of 2020.

The opening was planned as part of the program on the occasion of April 1st and the 48th birthday of the Museum of Humour and Satire, and though with some delay, visitors to the Museum will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the best of Czech comics created over the last 100 years.

The project was implemented in 2019 as part of the events marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918). The exhibition itself is the result of the joint efforts of the Czech centers in Europe, the Institute of Czech Literature at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Faculty of Philosophy to the Palacký University in Olomouc.

The centenary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic offers a unique opportunity to take stock of the history of Czech comics (as well as the image of history in comics). Through a thematic focus on the main genres, turning points and intercultural influences and inspirations, the exhibition seeks to present this Czech art in its various forms and historical interrelationships. And the story of what and how happened meanwhile, elsewhere will allow visitors to better understand what is happening here and now.

24. Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art, Gabrovo 2019
Garden Town - exhibition for children
/May 18 - September 30 2019, Room 4/

The exhibition is specially designed for children within the framework of the 24. Biennial of Humour and Satire in Art. Its author is artist Nevena Ekimova who has developed the Biennial theme Dimensions of Publicness inviting children to learn how to explore, actively engage with, transform and discuss the issues on the Garden Town together.

In Garden Town the children are free to show their imagination, resourcefulness and care about the environment making the streets of the town beautiful, saving homeless kittens, making seed bombs, learning how to make decisions in a group. In fact, every town is possible to turn into a garden, but it is only in Garden Town where mischief has a happy end.

Interactive Generative Formations, 2014-2017 - a project authored by Svetoslav Kosev and Atanas Markov, Bulgaria
Digital installation
/8 December 2017 - 30 November 2018, in front of the distorted mirrors/

On 8 December, the Students' Day celebrated in Bulgaria, the Museum House of Humour and Satire is opening the digital installation Interactive Generative Formations 2014-2017. Its setting, the space in front of the visitors' favourite distorted mirrors, plays a significant part in the perception and experience of the work, juxtaposing the images in the mirrors with the created virtual medium into which the viewer is drawn to participate. The project was presented at the House of Humour and Satire during the hackathon Gabrovo Game Jam in January 2017.

The installation Interactive Generative Formations is the brainchild of a creative cooperation between Svetoslav Kosev and Atanas Markov. It represents a dialogue between the viewer and the work in the form of a virtual field in which every viewer appears as a silhouette on the screen, in a kind of a network of lines, and is able to modify the work itself. The lines are connected by means of an algorithm which makes the work both interactive and generative. In this virtual medium, a network of dots that have definite physical properties is dispersed on a pseudo-random principle. They are interconnected by means of the same algorithm as with the viewer’s outline thus seeking a graphic impact. The small dots have gravity and fall, but they can also interact in case of a collision with the users or between themselves. In addition, there are bigger colour “balls” (for the current installation they are replaced with the logo of the Museum) which also participate in this virtual scene of physical dependences. The purpose is to entice the viewer into more active participation and involvement in this virtual medium through an element of a game-playing.

Svetoslav Kosev is a lecturer in graphic design and perspective, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Fine Arts at St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo.

Atanas Markov is Chief Assistant in computer graphics and multimedia technologies at St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo.