Largo Art Gallery Presents Iliya Zhelev

Largo Art Gallery Presents Iliya Zhelev

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June 3–22, 2021

Opening – Thursday, June 3, 2021, 6:30 p.m.


From June 3, 2021, Largo Gallery will present the beloved Plovdiv author Iliya Zhelev for the fourth time. After his solo exhibitions at Largo in 2008, 2013 and 2019 and his joint performance with Nedko Itinov in 2009, the Plovdiv resident will once again delight the Varna audience and his fans with his latest paintings.

Iliya is one of the best represented contemporary Bulgarian artists abroad. His exhibitions abroad are in total more than those in his native land. Why is that? What makes gallery owners, art critics, collectors in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg appreciate, seek and buy it. The mystery can be solved quickly if we touch the man Iliya Zhelev, the artist Zhelev and his paintings.

The man is fast and dynamic, responsible and correct, workaholic and demanding of himself and his work. The artist is energetic and explosive, searching and experimenting, inspiring and different every time. His paintings are colorful and with bold color contrasts, intimate and caressing as the embrace of a loved one, rhythmic and pulsating like a heart, cosmopolitan, but also related to his homeland.

Iliya is loved by the audience for his ability to change, evolve, and surprise. In recent years, he has developed with incredible skill his cycle of works, created as a digital photo mosaic, consisting of thousands of small images, which he has specially selected by theme, color and shape. He arranges these mini images next to each other, collages, processes, prints and finally paints on the canvas, applying spots and smears on the work, giving it life and soul. The topics are the hectic streets of the big city, the pulsations of everyday life, the famous artists, who have become idols for generations. Modern, with an experimental spirit, these mosaics seek in the viewer his connection with the world, his tendency to change, to compare himself with others and to benefit from it. For the first time the Varna audience saw works from this cycle in the exhibition of Iliya Zhelev “I love New York” in the gallery “Largo” in 2019. This exhibition will also include works from the series dedicated to the streets of New York, the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the realities of the big city.

Of course, fans of the Plovdiv resident will not be disappointed either, as they love his traditional compositions, significant for his work, consisting of numerous miniatures, harmoniously united in one whole. They often encode the root Bulgarian, which Iliya never forgets and always emphasizes in his appearances abroad. Thus, in the paintings the viewer will find the colorful Revival houses of Old Plovdiv, the bright colors of Bulgarian embroidery, the soft green of our mountains, the fiery gold of our fields, the boundless blue of our homeland, the white piers, small children riding bicycles, the cottages from our memories. The spectator in Iliya Zhelev’s paintings feels cozy, as if he has entered the world of his childhood, so warm and intimate that he even grabs you by the throat and a tear flickers, ready to fall for a moment and burn a trace in our soul.

The opening of the exhibition with the participation of the author is on June 3, 2021 at 18:30 in Art Gallery “Largo” in Varna, 8 Khan Krum Street. The exhibition lasts until June 22. See more photos of the works on the gallery’s website at

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