The graphic collection of the Ruse Art Gallery began its existence in 1946. Over time, it is enriched with works by Bulgarian and foreign artists. There is a lack of clear criteria and consistency in the selection of incoming works. As a result, some authors are better represented than others, and some are missing.
The first graphics are acquired in 1946 through a donation from the City People’s Council – aquatints by Pavel Valkov and Petar Morozov. In the 1960s and 1970s, the collection grew through purchases from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the District People’s Museum, and the District People’s Council. Over the decades, there have been proceeds from the District Art Exhibitions, with the most numerous and last being those of 1985. The role of the National Fund Kulture 13 centuries Bulgaria is also important, through which the gallery acquires works by famous Bulgarian and European graphic artists. The percentage of donated works is significant – by the artists themselves, their heirs, and private individuals. Today, the collection has 643 graphics and drawings, which make it possible to follow the individual development of the authors, as well as the stages in the evolution of Graphic Art.
Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master “At the front”
The preserved 15 prints from the 19th century of the Samokov School of Engraving belong to the era of the Bulgarian Revival. They present Gospel stories, Bulgarian saints and saint-martyrs. From the period before and after the Liberation, the gallery owns the lithographs of Nikolay Pavlovich. Created in 1870-1886, they are in tune with the widespread European tendency to learn about the historical past, aiming to raise the Bulgarian spirit during the struggles for the liberation of Bulgaria. (A vision appeared to Tsar Peter, The Judgment of Krum, The Union of Northern and Southern Bulgaria”, etc.).
Georgi Gerasimov “Cowman”
In the first two decades of the 20th century, the Landscape dominated. Gradually the intimate-psychological portrait and the naked body found their place. Atanas Mihov’s drawing (Fisherman, 1920) depicts the charm and tranquillity of the Danube bank. The military drawings of Vl. Dimitrov – Master are a result of his direct observations as a participant in the First World War (At the Front, 1918). The female portrait of Vasil Stefanov-Chilito, despite its sketchy character, convincingly reveals the lyrical tenderness of the image, inherent in all his works. Marcho Kirov’s series of nude bodies from 1924 demonstrate a free compositional interpretation.
The genres of portrait, landscape and multi-figure composition continued their development in the 1930s and 1940s. The contact with European graphics had an impact on the artists, who mastered space and form through more expressive means of expression. These are authors such as Iliya Beshkov, Nikola Marinov, Preslav Karshovski, David Perets.
The 50s are the least represented in the collection. The drawings of Nikola Pindikov (Food for the partisans, 1951) and Yuli Minchev (1918 – Mutiny on the cruiser Nadezhda, 1954) recreate historical events.
In the 1960s, there were changes in the compositional construction, characterized by generality and impressiveness of the form, a clearly defined silhouette. Such are the exquisite graphics of Vasil Ivanov and the etching of Pencho Kulekov. Artists continue to interpret events from the historical past of Bulgaria – Hristo Neikov, Grigor Spiridonov, and Borislav Stoev. From this period is one of the few illustrations of literary texts in the collection – that of Lyuben Zidarov to H. K. Andersen’s Thumbelina.
The 1970s and 1980s further developed processes from the previous decade in the direction of aesthetic renewal, refracted through the individual prism of each author. As a result, different stylistic trends are present. There is also diversity in the printing techniques used. The works of Stoyan Venev and Maria Nedkova can be related to the trend of developing a national style in art. Another line is drawn by the works related to the associative-metaphorical approach. It reflects in a new way the attitude of the artists towards reality, the human being, and the meaning of life. The compositions of Stoyan Stoyanov-Techi, Stoyan Tsanev, Stoimen Stoilov, and Petar Chuklev, saturated with meaningful symbols, transform form and space.
In the 90s of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, figurativeness was gradually replaced by abstraction. There are few works in the collection of the gallery that completely break away from the depiction of the observed reality, experimenting with combinations of line, colour and rhythm (Ivan Ninov, Ferenc Kovach, Tsvetan Kazandzhiev).
In the last ten years, due to a lack of funds, the collection has been replenished mainly through donations from authors, as well as from the International Biennale of Miniatures held in Ruse. Exceptions are the purchased works of Branko Nikolov, Borislav Stoev, Stoimen Stoilov, and Milko Bozhkov.
A special place in the gallery’s collection is occupied by the works of local artists who follow the general trends in Bulgarian art. Among them are Plamen Monev, Daniel Dyankov, Roberto Andreev, Ivan Ivanov, Ognyan Balkandzhiev, Stefan Katsarov, Todor Filipov, Lachezar Stanev, Grisha Kubratov, Nikolay Buzov, Antoniy Sofev, Veledin Marinov, Vayana Pankova, Zlatka Stoykova, Daniela Maksimova, Evstati Marinov .
The Ruse gallery is one of the galleries in the country that formed its collection with modern foreign graphics by authors from France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Latvia, China, Japan, and Mexico. Valuable for us are the works of Fantin Latour, Andre Lanskoi, Victor Vasarely, Sergey Sharshun, Sachiko Adachi, Susumu Endo, and Jia Bao.
Ivan Ninov “Katya”