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The road to France and back

Albert Hadjiganev and his Bulgarian exhibition "Mimesis" – a dream spanning four decades

Photo: astrygallery.com

"I am a translator - a translator of sensations!" This is how Bulgarian artist Albert Hadjiganev describes himself. Whenever he sees something beautiful, he always feels the need to convey this emotion to others. However, it took almost 40 years for the "translation" of his art for the Bulgarian reality - a whole life story worthy of a film plot. 

The beginning was in 1954 in the small town of Sevlievo (central Bulgaria), where Albert was born into a family of artists. Painting has been everything that ever excited him. He arrived in the capital Sofia to pursue his dream of becoming an artist and, after graduating from the Polygraphic High School, he applied to study at the National Academy of Arts.

"These were special years and things in Bulgaria were such that you could not become an artist if you did not graduate from the National Academy of Arts. I had applied twice unsuccessfully. After the second time I was not admitted, I decided that the third time I would not try in Sofia and I left, on foot, walking across the border and with all the vicissitudes it implies," says the artist and sees some higher power and support in his successful escape from socialist Bulgaria.


The year was 1982. Albert was only 28 years old when he found himself in Paris after crossing Serbia and making a short stop in Italy, and there he felt at home. He spent the next seven years in the studio of the French artist Rémy Aron, graduated from the Higher National School of Fine Arts in Paris and became himself a recognized artist.

Since then he has had in his biography over 60 solo exhibitions in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, USA. His works have been exhibited in the galleries "Axelle Fine Arts" with their branches in Boston, New York and San Francisco, "Galerie Soho" and "Hugo Galerie" in New York, "Galerie de l'Europe" in Paris. In 1989, he received the Grand Prize for Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts at the French Institute in Paris, and in 1991 - the Prize of the Government of Monaco, presented personally by Prince Albert.

"For a period of almost 40 years I have returned home some 10-12 times, of which I had to return for three funerals, one operation and one wedding," says Albert Hadjiganev. Despite the warm hospitality of Normandy, Albert's dream to hold an exhibition in his native land was never fading.


And it is coming to life exactly 39 years after his escape, in early October 2021. Until October 16th, in two venues in the centre of Sofia - the Boris Christoff Centre and the Astri gallery, more than 50 of Albert Hadjiganev's paintings are shown, which immerse us in the world of a dream come true. The title "Mimesis" is associated with ancient Greek philosophy and understanding of art and literally means imitation, the production of some reality.

"He is a great artist, a name that is known not only in France but also in Europe and North America. He has exhibited his works in many renowned galleries, so we can be really proud that a Bulgarian artist who is known around the world is now at home”, Vihra Pesheva, curator of the exhibition at the Astri Gallery, says in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.


Nature, the sky, the autumn colours in the fields, the dancing of clouds - all this is the language into which Albert translates his emotions. And this reality, exhibited in Sofia, is accompanied by music written by his son Gregor Hadjiganev and is actually the premiere of their joint project which next year will be presented with exhibitions in Paris and New York.

"Most, if not all, of my work comes from my daily walks. And through this exhibition and its title, I want to make everyone ask, what is art and most of all - what does it serve for? Personally, I believe that it serves to make us live better lives, to feel better and to have aspirations,” says Albert Hadjiganev, firmly convinced that the road is always more important than the ultimate destination.


Compiled by Vesela Krasteva (based on interview of Evelina Stoyanova and Diana Doncheva (BNR’s Horizon channel) and Julia Petrova (BNR’s Hristo Botev channel)

English version Rositsa Petkova


Photos: astrygallery.com, ouest-france.fr, galeriebarlier.fr

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