In search of the Christian east in Bulgaria


‘Taking what is quite frankly a rather provincial outlook, our culture has sub-stantially neglected the critical study and often even any simple appreciation of the history and art al the eastern areas of Europe, or else it has considered it enough, especially with regard to the Christian period, to group everything un-der the heading “Byzantine”. If, until quite recently, this superficial attitude could to some extent be justified by an “iron curtain” which was not only politi-cal and economic, but also cultural, today new “discovery” is called for of the specificity and variety, of artistic expressions of the eastern Christian. This exhibition on Bulgaria is part of a programme that will engage organizer, Adriano Alpago Novello, for the next few years. At the same time, several new books are currently being edited on the History of the Christian East and Slavic world. What we have in fact is a complex mosaic of different experiences and schools, all profoundly tied together by a common faith in the orthodox religion. Particularly interesting discoveries have come to light in Bulgaria. These date back from the prehistoric period to the kingdom of Macedonia (4th century B.C.) and the Roman conquest (2nd century B.C., along the route of the Via Egnatia from Brindisi to Serdica, Philippopolis and Adriacropolis). Out of the gradual fusion of proto-Bulgarian and Slavic ethnic group, the Slavic Bulgaria State was born (681 A.D.). This subsequently underwent rapid development until it was conquered by the cruel Byzantine emperor, Basil II in 1018. After the revolt and liberation from the Byzantine yoke (1185) a new, period of prosperity began for the Bulgarian state, thought occasional wars were still fought both outside and inside the country. In the 14th century, the state split into three parts and, at the end of the same century, the Ottoman occupation began. This was to last five hundred years. All the exhibition can try and do is highlight a few of the most fundamental artistic episodes: After a “historical” introduction which “physically” covers the whole of Bulgaria (the country is depicted geographically on the floor), visitors come to a square spa-ce that symbolically evokes the traditional planimetric and spatial layout of a tricorn (athonite) monastic complex. On the walk are, synthetically presented the architectural styles of the proto-Byzantine period, of the first Bulgarian Kingdom and of the second Bulgarian Kingdom with special focus on the monastic phenomenon so important for artistic as well as, religious-admini-strative viewpoint. A series of six icons (Sofia museum) is reproduced to recall the traditional structure of the iconostasis. In the middle of the space domina-tes the dome, a precise reference to the conclusion, a short series of images recalls the importance of popular culture to which the Bogomili phenomenon is related. This was a revolutionary religious but also socio-political movement that became known beyond the borders of Bulgaria and spread to the whole of Europe, from the Balkans to the Pyrenees.’


24 Agosto 1991 - 31 Agosto 1991


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions