120 Years since the Birth of Dechko Uzunov (1899-1986)
Paintings, drawings
/February 22 - April 30, 2019, floor 3, the lobby/

On February 22nd, 2019 will be 120 years since the birth of Bulgarian artist Dechko Uzunov (1899-1986). To celebrate the occasion, the House of Humour and Satire is showing three of his four works treasured in the art collection of the Museum. Two of the works – The Peasants of Elin Pelin and Don Quixote without Sancho Panza (which is currently lent to the Dechko Uzunov Art Gallery, branch of Sofia City Art Gallery) – were shown in the Gabrovo Biennial exhibition in 1977 and 1983 respectively. The two ink drawings – Peasants from Sofia Region and Village Pub – were donated by the artist in 1988 and 1989.
The assembling of the collection was made possible thanks to the ambition of the first director of the Museum and his team to enlarge the Museum holdings with works by representative Bulgarian artists.

Dechko Uzunov was born in the town of Kazanlak where his first teacher was humour writer and artist Chudomir. In 1919 he entered the State Art Industry School (present-day National Academy of Art) and joined the class of Prof. Petko Klisurov. In 1922, Uzunov and his fellow student Ivan Penkov specialized under Prof. Carl von Marr in Munich. At the time Munich was a breeding ground for a host of aspiring young Bulgarian artists, men and women of letters who formed Uzunov’s circle of friends. Many of them would sit for his portraits.
Returning to Bulgaria, he graduated from the Art Academy (1924), in the class of Prof. Stefan Ivanov. From 1926 until 1932 he was a staff artist in the Ministry of Education. Then he taught painting at the Art Academy.
Dechko Uzunov took part in nearly all general art exhibitions of Rodno izkustvo Society in this country and abroad. He showed solo exhibitions in Sofia, Kazanlak, Sliven, and then in Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Moscow, Paris, Basel, Munich, Kuwait and Beijing. The secondary art school in Kazanlak bears his name.
Uzunov’s art legacy is exceptionally diverse. He painted, drew graphic works and illustrations; designed books; engaged with stage design and decorative monumental painting. He worked in the genres of portrait, nude, landscape, watercolor, figural composition on historical, biblical, mythological and contemporary subject matter. He did also mural paintings. In addition to his creative work, Uzunov was engaged in numerous public activities. He is a holder of a number of prestigious awards and prizes.

Attention! - curated exhibition presenting artists from Gabrovo and Gabrovo region
Painting, video and videoart, photography фотография, дигитални проекти, обекти от метал, дърво, графичен дизайн и други
/23 ноември 2018 - 30 април 2019, зала "Стефан Фъртунов"/

The exhibition Attention! showcases 27 up and coming artists born and raised on the territory of Gabrovo region. Their known, little known or totally unknown work provokes the attention of viewers, collectors and curators. Born between 1973 and 1996, they have chosen to follow the uneven path of making a career and a name for themselves in the virtual and real spaces of visual arts. They have taken their first steps in a well-structured, but commonly neglected, regional arts scene under the new socio-economic conditions of the Bulgarian transition period that do not encourage professional engagement in art. Some of them know each other, others have never met, but they all share the same schools, teachers and galleries.

On show in the exhibition are са: Radoil Serafimov, Deyan Boev, Galina Dineva, Pavel Tzarov, Lora Dimova, Diana Boneva, Veselin Mitev, Mariana Maneva, Nevena Ekimova, Miroslav Zhivkov, Hristina Tita Drenska, Kaloyan Minchev, Eliza Bozhidarova Kovacheva-Tsokova, Radan Kossov, Dobrin Kashavelov, Nikola Lamburov, Tsvetelina Stefanova, Evgeni Nedev, Martin Nikolov, Galina Hristova, Petko Nedyalkov, Ivana Nencheva, Hristina Georgieva, Genadiy Vasilev, Ivan Ivanov, Velizar Zahariev, Mina Minov. The scope of their works is broad – painting, video and videoart, photography, digital projects, objects of metal and wood, graphic design, even a curator’s project.

The curator of this selection is Gabrovo-born Iva Saykova. She works as a cultural manager and curator at Orlovska 10 Gallery and the Artarea Association in Gabrovo. The gallery has been functioning since 2008 and except being a venue for various exhibitions, it also holds literary readings, discussions, lectures, and screenings. It exhibits both established and burgeoning artists focusing on personal meetings and conversations between the audience and the artists.

Two Faces. Carnival Traditions in Sardinia. - solo exhibition of Andrea Salvai, Italy
/November 11, 2018 - June 30, 2019, Room 8/

Traditionally, on November 11th every year the Western European carnival world opens up its workshops for masks and carnival costumes and boisterously celebrates the start of the new carnival season. To honour this day, the House of Humour and Satire is showing a small collection of photographs on the topic of 'The Carnival Traditions of Sardinia'.

The author of the pictures on display is Andrea Salvai - a natural science teacher in a secondary school. Born in 1973, Salvai has been a captive of photography since his childhood investing his first savings into various makes of photo cameras; reading scores of books about photography techniques; taking apart a couple of cameras to study their mechanics and attending some photography courses.

Andrea Salvai's present exhibition has captured the masquerade Sa Tuvera recently revived in his native village of Sorgono and the carnival in the town of Cagliari.

The revival of the ancient festival Sa Tuvera began about ten years ago in the village of Sorgono (in the heart of Sardinia) prompted by the interest of a group of reserachers, scholars and fans to trace back the history of a few masks kept at the local museum. After talking to some local villagers, they happened on a poem that provided an explicit description of the heathen rite and the participants in it. The anthropomorphic masks and costumes make the basic element of the description. The text speaks about men dressed up in furs and fleeces and covered with animal bones all over; their faces are blackened with charred cork oak or covered with black masks; their victims are participants in the rite disguised as animals (goats, bulls and wild boars). They are assumed to be related to the cult of Dionysus who was worshipped reverently by the shepherds and the farmers in the region. The rite in his honour was chiefly practiced to obtain rain by prayer. Today the days of the festival (January 16, 17, 18) coincide with celebrations honouring St. Anthony.

Tumultuous masquerades and processions in Cagliari, in the old quarter of Stampace, have been in existence since the end of the 1940s. They are known under the name of Ratantira and are held before Lent. The origin of the name Ratantira is referred to the drum rhythm created by the participants in the procession. New masks and carnival characters appear in the 1980s. Among them is the image of the Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda, images of film and theatre celebrities, clowns and others.

Cartoon Art Salon 2018
/October 26, 2018 - January 31, 2019, Roons 6 and 7/

Cartoon Salon is the new title of the traditional autumn event dedicated to the art of cartooning that the Museum of Humour and Satire holds. This year's edition encomapsses 5 exhibitions showcasing more than 200 cartoons: Idle Cartoons, a solo exhibition of Irien Trendafilov; The Communist Manifesto, a solo exhibition of Martin Rowson (Great Britain); Art Presidency, works by the „irreverent cartoonists” from PRASS PRESS newspaper; Animated Cartoons by Tchavdar Nikolov and a selected collection of the 43rd National Cartoon Exhibition, Sofia 2018. Invited to the opening of the Cartoon Salon 2018 are some of the leading Bulgarian cartoonists at present – Irien Trendafilov, Hristo Komarnitski, Chavdar Nikolov, Alla and Chavdar Georgiev and Ivailo Tsvetkov. They will conduct a master class in cartooning with students from the art schools in Gabrovo before the inauguration of the exhibition.

Idle Cartoons - a solo exhibition of Irien Trendafilov
Irien Trendafilov is the winner of the special prize that the Museum of Humour and Satire gave for the sixteenth time at the opening of the 43rd National Cartoon Exhibition on April 5th, 2018. This is the motive for including his solo show Idle Cartoons in the Cartoon Salon this year. For the Plovdiv-born artist, being idle or idling about is a way of life, a symbol of free spirit that will hover over pragmatic Gabrovo for a while at least.
Irien Trendafilov was born in 1955 in Plovdiv. He graduated from the Moscow Geological Prospecting Institute with a specialty of Exploration and production of radioactive and rare elements. He has worked as a geologist, technologist, chief engineer, manager and director of a mining company. He published his first cartoon in 1968 in the Plovdiv newspaper Otechestven glas. Trendafilov has been a member of Cartoon section at the Union of Bulgarian Artists since 1988. His works have been published in both Bulgarian and Russian newspapers. He has shown nine solo exhibitions in Bulgaria and Russia. Trendafilov has participated in numerous national and international cartoon exhibitions and competitions and has won 30 awards.

The Communist Manifesto - a solo exhibition of Martin Rowson, Great Britain

The exhibition features 40 illustrations, part of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, adapted by editorial cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson with reference to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx celebrated throughout 2018.
Martin Rowson is a British editorial cartoonist and writer. His genre is political satire and his style is scathing and graphic. He characterizes his work as „visual journalism". His cartoons appear frequently in The Guardian and Daily Mirror. As a freelancer, he also contributes cartoons to other publications such as Tribune, Index on Censorship and Morning Star. He is chair of the British Cartoonists' Association.

Art Presidency - works by the irreverent cartoonists from PRASS PRESS newspaper
The exhibition shows 24 cartoons by Alla and Chavdar Georgiev, Hristo Komarnitski and Tchavdar Nikolov - better known as the irreverent cartoonists from PRAS-PRES newspaper. The works treat the subject matter of the Presidency of the Counicl of the EU taken over by Bulgaria at the beginning of this year. Satarizing the slogan of the Bulgarian Presidency - United We Stand Strong - the artists deride the European and Bulgarian unitedness of hypocrisy in political cartoons after masterpieces from the European cultural heritage by Da Vinci, Picasso, Matisse, Munch, van Gogh and Goya. Following Case 113, this is the second exhibition of works by the irreverent cartoonists on display at the Museum of Humour and Satire.
Besides the exhibition, visitors will have the chance to leaf through all the issues of PRASS PRESS newspaper that have come out so far.

Animated cartoons by Tchavdar Nikolov
Tchavdar Nikolov graduated in visual communication from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in Great Britain. He has had 15 works published in the celebrated satirical magazine Private Eye in London. Nikolov has contributed to a number of Bulgarian publications and has worked for the newspapers Demokratsia, Novinar and Presa. Winner of the highest awards for cartoon at competitions in this country, he has a UN certificate of excellence for political cartoon, and this year he won second place at the World Press Cartoon competition in Cascais, Portugal.
Nikolov has the reputation of a lambasting critic of any grievances in Bulgaria. His scathingly sarcastic animated cartoons visualize the voiceless opinion of the people about the ruling class. In 2016, 90 video cartoons by Tchavdar Nikolov were taken off the New Television website and Vbox7; however, today they can be seen on Slavi's Show and Terminal 3 media website.

43rd National Cartoon Exhibition

On show in Gabrovo is a selected collection of 71 works by 26 artists from the 43rd National Cartoon Exhibition, Sofia 2018. The works treat a variety of subject matter and issues: love, sex, money, relationships between men and women, ecology, war and peace. The exhibition includes both editorial cartoons and cartoons drawn for international cartoon competitions and exhibitions.

The World according to Todor Tsonev - retrospective exhibition
Small sculptures, drawings, graphic works, paintings
/April 27, 2018 - April 7, 2019, Room 5/

The retrospective exhibition The World according to Todor Tsonev is a first-time showcase of more than 400 oeuvres by the artist gathered at one place. They encompass plastic art pieces, drawings, graphic works and paintings unknown or little known to the public so far. The small satirical sculptures on display have no analogue in both Bulgaria and in the work of other artists from the former Soviet bloc countries. Along with the watercolors and drawings, they evoke the spirit and the image of Bulgaria's socialist past in a manner unseen before and now.

Todor Tsonev 1934-2004) is a man with an encyclopedic turn of mind: painter, sculptor, cartoonist, graphic artist, aesthete, moralist and a powerhouse of ideas. Born in Sofia, he graduated from the Academy of Art in illustration and graphic art, under the guidance of Prof. Iliya Beshkov. In 1970 he put on his first solo exhibition of satirical plastic art in Sofia. The exhibition travelled to Gabrovo in May 1971 and was displayed within the framework of the 7th National Festival of Humour and Satire. It is this exhibition that captured the attention of the Gabrovo citizens and that of Stefan Fartunov in particular, founder and first director of the future House of Humour and Satire. Fartunov found in Todor Tsonev that imaginative creative personality he needed to join the group of the visionary founders already entrusted with the conceptual development of the new cultural institution. Todor Tsonev responded to the Gabrovo invitation with generosity that won him the title Honorary Citizen of Gabrovo at the age of only 37. Some of his bold ideas came to fruition; others still lie dormant in the Museum archives. Todor Tsonev sculpted the first Golden Aesop statuette - the Grand Prix awarded at the International Biennial of Cartoon and Small Satirical Sculpture in 1973 and 1975; two metal signs of distinction - Gabrovo Necklace and a plaque of the House of Humour and Satire with an image of Hitar Petar (Bulgarian folklore figure) on it. In 1971 he donated an album of lithographs by Daumier and 50 drawings and lithographs of his. In 2004, through the mediation of historian and art historian Maria Ovcharova, PhD., he made a new donation to the House of Humour and Satire consisting of 96 satirical drawings on the subject of Uncle Ganyu and some of his incriminated or better known "arrested" cartoons (taken away during a house search on the day of his arrest, 16 March 1979; they were held up by the State Security or Bulgarian secret service until December 1989.) Since 2005 (a year after his death) this donation has been shown round a number of Bulgarian cities and towns. The book collection of the Museum also houses 108 donated issues of the monthly sheet Satire published by Todor Tsonev between 1990 and 1999 in tandem with Maria Ovcharova, PhD.

Todor Tsonev's entire life is an example of a noble civil stand and, according to his own judgement, of holding one's ground as a "champion of public morality and justice". For more than 30 years he drew caricatures of the communist leader Todor Zhivkov and the sycophants around him paying for that with an arrest from 16 March until 22 May 1979. Tsonev strictly followed a line of non-compliance with bosses, party members and administrators. His credo was to fight evil in all of its manifestations, in the name of pure human relations, sincerity and perfection of human beings; his hobby was "Democracy and its issues meant to evolve into satire." Even in his last letters to Stefan Fartunov he kept insisting that the House of Humour and Satire be renamed House of Satire and Humour because "humour has many sides and can be devious while satire is a pure category."

The curator of the exhibition The World according to Todor Tsonev is Mr. Ivo Milev; he has done the research and developed the concept of the exhibition design. He has also authored the text in both the exhibition and the catalogue that accompanies it. The catalogue includes a biographical study of Todor Tsonev based on archival materials and documents unknown and unpublished so far.

The exhibition is realized under Culture Programme run by Gabrovo Municipality.
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.