A city of rich historical past, Bulgaria’s Pleven is linked to the names of hundreds of people who have contributed to the development of Bulgarian culture. Pleven – City of my Dreams is a song by legendary singer Emil Dimitrov who was born here. The melody of the song can be heard at every hour from the clock tower downtown. The mausoleum of Russian and Romanian soldiers who died for the Liberation of Bulgaria is situated nearby. The old city bath and beautiful fountains are also here. In 1984 the building of the bath was turned into a city gallery and it has never been without visitors ever since. It displays a constant exhibition collected for years by renowned artist Svetlin Rusev. He has presented many works of art to Pleven – the city of his youth. More from Ms. Maria Meskin, head of the Svetlin Rusev Collection Gallery.
“The old city bathbuilding is an architectural masterpiece. It was not built during the Ottoman rule, even though some people say this. It was erected in liberated Bulgaria by genius architect Nikola Lazarov, along with the mausoleum and monuments of gratitude to the liberators of Pleven. The then mayor ordered the ‘most attractive city bath.’ It cost a lot, but it was worth it–today this beautiful building is an architectural monument of national importance. The unique exhibition contains Bulgarian and foreign art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The works presented by Acad. Rusev are 420, but he continues to enrich the collection. We like to quote his words that this is ‘a bath for the soul’. Indeed, this is a spiritual oasis for people from all over the world. Despite the difficulties, the gallery has never closed doors.”
In the halls of different sizes and geometric shapes one can see the works of great Bulgarian artists Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, TsankoLavrenov, Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master, Dechko Uzunov and others, as well as works by contemporary artists such as Nikola Manev, Genko Genov, Georgi Bozhilov... Icons, African sculptures, Christian sculptures from India, small sculptures by Rodin and Degas are also on display in the gallery. In the towers of the old bath, reached by winding stairs, one is surprised to finds miniatures by Chagall, Goya, Renoir, Delacroix ...
“The gallery is a true cultural center," Mrs. Meskin further explains. “Poets and writers also present their books here. This is also the poetic home of the Pleven poets and we also organize great chamber concerts. The collection of works of art of such an expert like academician Svetlin Rusev is truly unique.The artworks in the gallery include some from the Bulgarian Revival, as well as works by Ilia Beshkov- also born in Pleven. Visitors can seeworks by Renoir, Picasso, Dali, Käthe Ida Kollwitz and many other world-famous artists. We encounter difficulties with the maintenance of the building. Part of its renovation has been completed but we still need financial support."
Pleven Mayor Mr. Georg Spartanskiis a connoisseur of art who aims that the spiritual sphere does not lag behind the rest. We believe that we will preserve the architectural monument and the invaluable collection it stores. There are financial difficulties but one should know that they cannot live a complete life without beauty and art.
English: Alexander MarkovPhotos: Albena Bezovska