Loran Gallery puts on display paintings by Ivan Tabakov – an artist searching for light

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Ivan Tabakov, Paris sur Seine, 1960s

The Loran Gallery focuses attention on the work of an artist, who stands among renowned contemporary Bulgarian classical painters. A retrospective exhibition opening today and lasting for a month puts on display paintings by artist Ivan Tabakov.

“In the exhibition we would see the gray shades of Paris by the Seine; we would feel the majesty of the artist’s portraits; we would immerse ourselves into the calm atmosphere of Bulgaria’s Sozopol, and we would warm up our souls through his colorful still-life.” This is how artist Ludmil Vesselinov describes the quests of the artist, inspired by universal beauty and nature’s generosity and author of portraits of people such as poetesses Elisaveta Bagryana and Dora Gabe.

Ivan Tabakov, A lady’s portrait and Portrait of Elisaveta Bagryana

“The artist was born in 1901 in Sofia in the family of Boris and Nevenka Tabakovs,” Lyudmil Veselinov says. “As a child, his parents directed him towards music, but at some point in his life he chose to dedicate himself to painting. He became a student in the Art Academy and graduated under famous professors Nikola Ganushev and Nikola Marinov. In 1926, Ivan Tabakov went to France because he feared repression because of his leftist views. He lived in Paris until 1932, where he studied and actively exhibited his works. With his popular ladies’ portraits from 1930 and 1931 he participated in the Autumn Salon, and a year later he put on display his paintings at Salon des Indépendants. At the exhibition in Sofia one can also see ladies’ portraits as they are his trademark, but the still life collection is what is of much interest to me.”

Ivan Tabakov, Bounty still-life, 1960s

After his return to Bulgaria, Ivan Tabakov started painting seascapes, probably influenced by his friendship with artists Alexander Mutafov and Mario Zhekov. In 1933, he opened his first (out of thirty) solo exhibition in his homeland - mostly with paintings from his Parisian period, but he also put on display portraits and works depicting rural life scenes. In addition to creating many works inspired by native land, the artist traveled all over the world and his works were well accepted abroad. At the Venice Biennial in 1942 he took part with a portrait of writer Georgi Raichev and attracted the interest of the Italian press. The Academy of Arts in Milan declared him an honorary member.

Ivan Tabakov, Sozopol Rocks, 1940s

“Ivan Tabakov has left a lasting trace, mainly as a portraitist and landscape artist, but I also find similarities with artists, strongly influenced by Impressionism," the art historian says. "That's why, for me, he is an artist looking for the light. In the Académie Julian in Paris, his professors Albert Bernard and Marcel-André Baschet encouraged him to focus on classics from the Old Continent and he rediscovered his interest in the portrait, landscape and still-life (Baschet was one of the leading portrait artists of his time, and Bernard was a zealous follower of impressionism). That is why Ivan Tabakov is an extremely interesting artist, trained in prestigious European academies, but also in the Bulgarian one, which formed the basis of his academic education.”

Ivan Tabakov, Pier, 1940s

Rich color vibrations, sophisticated poetic harmonies, picturesque presentation of light and dark - all of this "emerges" from a deeper "reading" of his paintings, Lyudmil Vesselinov says. According to him, the artist continues to undeservedly stand in the shadow of the more noisy names of his generation. And after his death in 1977 his name was covered in oblivion. That is why Loran Gallery collects some of his paintings in this exhibition. And through revealing important moments of his life and creative work, it has been trying to cast light on an artist whom Bulgarian art should be very proud of.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: courtesy of Loran Gallery



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