Exhibition “To Collect Contemporary Art”. Vladimir Iliev Collection

Exhibition “To Collect Contemporary Art”. Vladimir Iliev Collection

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To collect contemporary art

Vladimir Iliev Collection

Curators: Ivo Milev, Boryana Valchanova

April 22 – June 27, 2021

Vernissage on April 22, Thursday, from 17.00 to 19.00, in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures and controlled access


What is the place of contemporary art in the collections of Bulgarian collectors? Is the “risk” of collecting contemporary art justified? Isn’t contemporary art the future classic?

These are some of the questions posed by the exhibition “To Collect Contemporary Art”. Its theme is the Bulgarian art scene from the last decades through the personal view of Vladimir Iliev, with a focus on the open, lasting and responsible relationship: artist – collector.

Works by Sasho Stoitsov, Boryana Petkova, Valentin Stefanov, Krassimir Terziev, Georgi Ruzhev, Nina Kovacheva, Georgi Georgiev – Jorrras, Boris Kolev – B.A.i.L.A., Kalina Dimitrova, Stefan Ivanov, Peter Tsanev, Iskra Blagoeva are presented.

From the time the Renaissance began the difficult creation of the free artist: when the patron (state, ruler, church) is replaced by the collector; when, at the end of the eighteenth century, Goethe focused on the importance of the amateur (“dilettante”) for the future of the arts, because of his tendency to make free artistic decisions.

After the first half of the twentieth century, art began to fall again under the power of the state and public funds, and on the other hand – under increased speculative economic pressure. Now – after the end of ideological systems and among the claimed liberal civilization model – instead of the state’s press weakening, it diffuses and the institutionalization of the artist is ubiquitous. A freelance artist becomes a rarity. Creativity drops sharply. The audience has long sunk into apathy and lack of criticism.

The collector is not institutionally bound, he is not a merchant, he does not have to be a professional in the field of arts, he remains a free amateur. Thus, through his pure, distant interest, through trial and error, he tends to reintroduce art into the free relation of supply and demand, not as economic but as aesthetic categories.

The collector’s view is private. He has no claim to representation, he does not monopolize, he does not generalize, he does not ascribe to himself criteria and functions that he himself does not possess. From an observer, together with the author, he became a participant in the daily life of art.

Using his own resources – bearing the risk – the collector is personally responsible – beyond the anonymity of public funds and their collective responsibility.

Pressed by the financial capabilities of the state, the economic and political system, competing with fashion, contemporary art, in order to survive in its relationship with the public and the human, will again pass through the amateur, the “amateur” and the collector. Their difficult mission is to liberate art – always through a personal and private view.

Created in the present, contemporary art should be the closest and most understandable to the contemporary, in the most direct connection with its sensitivity. This is not always the case.

Immediate clarity and sustainable models of understanding are no longer enough, art must, each time anew, be understood, rediscovered, interpreted… For the public, this work is not always worth it. Contemporary art is still conflicted, problematic, committed, provocative, and who wants to be unnecessarily anxious?

Argued on many fronts with the public, in competition with other powerful technological media, the chance for contemporary art to survive and change is as if again the amateur, the collector – with his private, risky and responsible view.

For the collector of “old” art, most choices have already been made. For the collector of contemporary art, they are coming, they are his – difficult, problematic, sometimes false or wrong. He is a traveler to the future, where anything is still possible.

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