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.
The Radical Games of La Molleindustria - guest exhibition
Computer games
/March 29 - August 31, 2018, Room 6/

Billions of people in the world play computer games enthralled by their humour and fun. A small part of the most popular game genre, the so called 'casual games', aims to involve the gamers into the serious matters of everyday life we would frequently and rather evade in other circumstances.

This exhibition features 17 games developed by Paolo Pedercini. He is the man behind the project La Molleindustria and one of the most celebrated developers of casual games. His radical games comprise sarcasm, irony, allegory and other literary devices in order to attain a result that can simultaneously prompt laughter, sadness and anger with the audience. That is the reason why he is specially invited to show his games at the Museum House of Humour and Satire.

La Molleindustria games are a veritable embodiment of satire in the world of electronic games. They bear on red-hot topics of real life today - the energy mafia and modern wars; religion and gender issues; personal career and the small joys of life.

Paolo Pedercini was born in 1981 in a small town not far from Genoa, Italy. In 2007 Pedercini moved to the USA to study. Later on he became a university lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. The exhibition showcases his work in three themed groups: capitalism, politics and society. Pedercini’s games are free to find on the Internet, thus enabling everyone interested to live through the messages his works convey.

The Inventions - travelling exhibition of Children's Science Center MUZEIKO, Sofia
/April 1 - October 31, 2018, Room 4/

After the Art Gallery in the town of Razgrad, the Museum House of Humour and Satire is the second stop on the route of the travelling exhibition The Inventions kindly provided by the Children's Science Center MUZEIKO in Sofia. The exhibition is dedicated to the amazing inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries that have changed the life of all people in the world.

Inventions relates the process of discovery as by means of interactive play modules children are encouraged to assume the role of genuine discoverers - to explore new ideas, to perfect themselves, to fear neither errors nor failure, for failure makes an essential part of achieving success.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to learn how scientists came to the invention of the Roentgen apparatus, the telephone and the Morse apparatus, as well as of some less popular inventions like Slinky, the hot air balloon and human-powered cars.

MUZEIKO is the largest children's science center in Eastern Europe set up in 2015 by America for Bulgaria Foundation. In a fascinating and easy-to-understand way it rationalizes the connection between children and knowledge by means of modern space design and progressive teaching methods.

125 Years since the Birth of Rayko Aleksiev
/March 1, 2018, Floor 3, the lobby/

On March 7, it will be 125 years since the birth of Bulgarian journalist, humorist and cartoonist Rayko Aleksiev - better known under the pseudonym of Fra Dyavolo. On this occasion the House of Humour and Satire is showing an exhibition of cartoons by Rayko Aleksiev which are housed in the museum art collection.

Born in the town of Pazardzhik, Rayko Aleksiev studied literature at Sofia University and drawing at the Academy of Art. He specialized in painting in Germany and Italy. His first cartoons were published as early as his student years.

Aleksiev's name is closely associated with the humorous newspaper Shturets (Grasshopper) issued by him from 1932 until September 8, 1944. He wrote and drew all materials for the newspaper at home. Among the contributers to the newspaper were established at the time Bulgarian writers and cartoonists. Along with the newspaper, Rayko Aleksiev wrote and published collections of humorous stories and feuilletons.

Despite his statement that "he was not a politician and his cartoons were intended to ridicule what some politicians did to the detriment of the people", the historical turn of September 9, 1944 capsized his destiny dramatically. Rayko Aleksiev was arrested as an "enemy of the people" and beaten savagely. He died on November 18, 1944. He was posthumously convicted on the grounds of "anti-Soviet" and "pro-German" propaganda by the People's Court in March 1945. His property was taken in favour of the state and his books were banned.

Rayko Aleksiev was exonerated from blame after November 10, 1989. One of the galleries in Sofia was named after him. In 2002, Pazardzhik Municipality established a national literary award for humour and satire in his name. On February 27, 2013 a glacier in Antarctica was called Rayko Aleksiev.

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.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Projects
Signed posters and video materials of projects by both artists
Born in Gabrovo
Documentary exhibition about the life of the Javacheff family in Gabrovo and young Christo's early steps in art
/October 27, 2017 - October 26, 2018, Stefan Fartunov Room/

"The works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude are immediately recognizable. Trained in the classical tradition, from early on Christo Javacheff was determined to create his own trademark in the arts. At 21, he deliberately chose the difficult path of the emigrant artist. He was ready to sacrifice everything. Through his efforts and talent, he fit right into the modern spirit of Europe... Christo preferred to remain independent of the manifescos of others, but he shared his name with Jeanne-Claude, the woman who understood and provoked him. He turned his back on the classical portraiture that brought them security. A hunger for new experiences led them to America... All of their projects are unique and are realized for the first and last time, functioning as an enterprise with an administration, logistics, finances and planning. Christo and Jeanne-Claude move through all of this without compromising their principles of absolute independence. Their unique model of financing and not contracting with large galleries or powerful art dealers is rare in the art world. Their projects have a short life, but anyone who has seen them will remember them forever."
Evgenia Atanasova-Teneva

The exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Projects features sixteen projects and some early works by the artists. It starts with the transition from Christo's first works created in his studio in Paris (wrapped boxes and bottles) and then in New York (facades of store buildings) towards the large-scale projects realized in urban and nature environment. The exhibition also includes a video interview with Christo about his early work shot in New York by Assoc. Prof. Georgi Lozanov and film director Stoyan Radev. The large-scale projects of the artists are chronologically showcased through posters, text, a timeline and a map. Among the featured projects are the Iron Curtain (Oil Barrels), Valley Curtain, Wrapped Reichstag, The Umbrellas, Wrapped Trees and Pont Neuf. The latest realized project, The Floating Piers, is presented in video takes by Nedyalko Danov from the film A Bridge to Christo made by Evgenia Atanasova-Teneva for Bulgarian National Television. The exhibition ends with the project The Mastaba Christo is working on at present. It is planned to be realized in the desert near Abu Dabi, and will be the biggest piece of sculpture in the world. Its make will take 410 000 versicoloured barrels composong a mosaic of bright, radiant colours reminiscent of the tradition of Islamic architecture. The Mastaba is an ancient shape, familiar to the people in the region.

The exhibition Born in Gabrovo is a kind of a "time capsule" in which the story is narrated by Bulgarian journalist Evgenia Atanasova-Teneva. She is a consultant on the exhibition and author of the texts.
The exhibition follows the life of the Javacheff family - Tsveta and Vladimir and their three sons, in Gabrovo. The visitors to the Museum will learn about young Christo, the boy who spent his early years in Gabrovo and who was to become the world-renowned artist Christo; will see photos from his childhood together with his brothers: favourite film and theatre actor Anani Javacheff and Stefan Javacheff, a chemical engineer and the inventor of Vero detergent in Bulgaria. On show is a collection of private photographs lent by the members of the Javacheff family, as well as documents from the State Archives in Gabrovo and other institutions. The exhibition includes old paintings and cherished mementos of friends and classmates of Christo's; it reveals significant facts about the formation of Christo as one of the artist innovators with personal contribution to the development of art in the 20th and 21st century. The exhibition also evokes the years of the booming industry in Gabrovo and the historical changes that put a mark on the fate of the town and its citizens in the middle of the last century.
The display winds up with the Kachorite locality in Gabrovo. Christo affectionately remembers the place in the interviews conducted by Evgenia Atanasova-Teneva. There, he played with his brothers and drew trees, houses, people's portraits - peasants, their children and wives - hundreds of drawings. Kachorite is a place which Christo, a student in the Academy of Art, would re-visit and spend a whole month at before leaving Bulgaria for good. Kachorite is the most enduring childhood memory Christo is fond of recalling. The locality remains an intact symbol of absolute freedom the hunger for which would determine Christo's life and ouevre.

Both exhibitions are organized by Gabrovo Municipality, the Museum House of Humour and Satire and the Society Our Bigger Gabrovo in partnership with Bulgarian National Television, the Gabrovo branch of the State Archives, Aprilov-Palauzov Regional Library, Gabrovo Regional History Museum, National Aprilov High School, National Tryavna School of Applied Arts, Neofit Rilski Lower Secondary School and Vasil Levski Primary School. Displayed in the exhibitions are materials kindly provided by the Javacheff family, Evgenia-Atanasova-Teneva, Assoc. Prof. Georgi Lozanov and Stoyan Radev, Dragan Nemtsov (whose private archive houses the photograph of the Art Study Circle in Gabrovo, 1948), Iva Hadzhieva, Geo Kukudov, Ivan Gospodinov and Marian Kostadinov.

Screenings of films about Christo and Jeanne-Claude will take place during the continuance of the exhibitions; a programme of workshops for children will soon be announced.