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Kyustendil celebrates 141 years since the birth of artist Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora

"Genius, it is that ingredient that makes the grape juice to vigorously ferment and become wine. In every drop of juice there are millions of ferments that are bubbling, boiling, fizzing, coming to the surface to manifest themselves, but note, my son, only if they find the conditions to manifest themselves. Every person has a dormant genius inside of him. But if conditions are not right for it to manifest... If the the grapes in cistern were to freeze, the geniuses, the ferments would freeze too. Or if the grape juice is diluted with water. That is why slavery oppresses and poisons people, because man is always anxious. And that is why the Bulgarian genius has not shown itself much in the past, because it was oppressed,– Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora (The Master) once said. The artist of souls, as the brilliant master artist is often called, shared his thoughts in a conversation with writer and journalist Mikhail Topalov.

Each time we turn to the memory of Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora, we discover something new for us as Bulgarians.

February 1, the birthday of Vladimir Dimitrov, is a special day for Kyustendil. The life of every resident here is invariably connected with the Master's works, with the houses and trees painted by the artist, and with the people whose faces are captured on the canvases. Life in Kyustendil is inextricably linked with the gallery, which houses most of Vladimir Dimitrov's masterpieces.

"His work is a true blessing for our city and for us - the fifty or so artists here," says Evgeni Serafimov, who feels called to speak about and explore the work of his distinguished predecessor:

"This is a major holiday in Kyustendil - February 1, because art is the magic of this place. There is no artist in in this town who does not relate to the Master's work, and each and every one of them speaks with the same affection and admiration that I feel for Vladimir Dimitrov. Every year on the 1st of February the Master is "reborn" among us.

He studied in Kyustendil, then came back here to work and leave to us, the people, his finest paintings, which today make up the permanent exhibition of the National Gallery "Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora". Every year for his birthday the gallery prepares special and memorable events. This year's event is the ceremony of awarding the National Prize for Painting in the name of the Master. This award was re-established a few years ago as the National Award for Best Exhibition by a Contemporary Artist. Its winner also gets the opportunity to arrange a solo exhibition at the Master's Gallery in Kyustendil. So this year we will see a wonderful painting exhibition of the new winner of the award - Atanas Parushev.Many artists, not only from Kyustendil region, but also from all over the country, come to the town to celebrate the holiday and to see the exhibition of their colleague. Traditionally, after visiting the gallery, everyone goes to the village of Shishkovtsi to the house and museum of Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora and to pay tribute to the pilgrimage site in the center of the village. Thus, for one exciting day on 1 February, Kyustendil turns into a capital of art. It is also a nice occasion to rub shoulders with the best contemporary Bulgarian artists and sculptors who will fill the gallery. Here they meet, talk, look at the works, and the Master's name is constantly mentioned - so he is among us again. The atmosphere is very solemn and at the same time warm and pleasant - in the Bulgarian way."

Photo credit: Facebook/ Art Gallery "Vladimir Dimitrov-Maystora"

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

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