The “Imprints” exhibition is a step forward towards realizing the long overdue yet still anticipated discourse between the generations in Bulgarian photography. A common exposition presents works by the classic of Bulgarian photography Georgi S. Georgiev (1881-1959) and photographers from the “Ratts of the Capital” and “Naos”groups. They are united by their use of the so-called “noble” photographic processes or alternative processes and the specific aesthetics thereof.
Noble processes (salt print, cyanotype, bromoil, gum bichromate etc.) hold a specific place in the history of both Bulgarian and world photography. To a great extent they determined the aesthetics of photography for decades, especially in the period between the late 19th and the mid-20th century, though they continue to be used today as well. These processes are associated with romanticism, pictorialism, and symbolism in photography – they disrupt the sharpness and accuracy of the photographic image, bringing it closer to the art of painting. The fact that each photographer prepares all materials required for noble printing by himself means that it is impossible to get two identical positive prints from it. The title of the exhibition –“Imprints”, draws attention precisely to the singularity and uniqueness of the works produced with these processes.
In Bulgaria, in the past as well as nowadays, few artists use noble processes.Among the classics, the most famous name is Georgi S. Georgiev – descended from a line of photographers; founder, long-standing leader and honorary president of the Bulgarian Photography Club (founded in 1920 and still functioning); author of short and long studies on the theory and practice of photography; founding member of theCine and Photo (Kino i foto) magazine (1946-1951); initiator and principal of the State College for Cinematography and Photography, where he taught; organizer of the first national exhibition of artistic photography, etc.
It is becoming increasingly harder to draw a general picture of the integral significance that Georgi S. Georgiev holds for Bulgarian photography in particular and art in general. His studies remain obscure, his works, of almost no renown, are scattered among different collections in several places. It is certain that photographers of such erudition and consistency have been scarce in Bulgaria. Which is why one of the exhibition’s main goals is to place the person and work of Georgi S. Georgiev within the scope of researchers’ and viewers’ interest.
The “Ratts of the Capital” and “Naos” groups unite young photographers who have established their names and characteristic styles in Bulgarian photographic life. A distinction of theirs is the employment of non-digital (analogous) photography and traditional photographic processes. In “Imprints” Aleksandar Bogdanov, Velislava Stoycheva, Veneta Zaharieva, Veselina Skumova, Vladislav Lepoev, Dimitar Gramatikov, Ivan Nenchev, Milovan Kolev, Mihail Lozanov, Penko Skumov and Petar Vlahov present their interpretations of Georgi Georgiev’s work along with their own works, consistent with the techniques and aesthetics of noble photographic processes.
“Imprints” is not meant to be yet another event attempting to “dust off” an author not yet known to the masses and introduce him as an “eccentric” exhibit from the past.The exhibition is an attempt to prove that some phenomena from the history of art are still alive today and there are young artists who, regardless of all impediments, make efforts to base their work on serious and profound knowledge, on their regard for authors who have won their place in the history of Bulgarian photography. We believe that artistic life in this country needs events like this one, which give the vague and distant past clarity and fascination, and help all those artists and works of art in danger of irrevocably sinking into the chasm of an obsolete rhetoric, to find their logical place in the history of art.