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Dimitar Grozdanov /1951–2020/

04.10.22 – 22.10.22 – The Rayko Aleksiev Art Gallery, 125 Rakovski Street

From Charcoal to Fire is an exhibition devoted to the works of the artist and art critic, Dimitar Grozdanov. The exhibition showcases a selection from his works that spot his strong emotions and fiery personality, and the outstanding neo-conceptual methods, techniques, creative quests, words and thoughts that helped him create his artworks. The exhibition introduces the central element of his works – the lighting and destruction and at the same time – the creation the author associates with the fire and the thing that remains thereafter – the charcoal. In a 90s  article with the same title, in an effort to advance arguments for one of his projects, he identified “the creative burning“ as the precondition for the creation of a certain cultural scene, such as the charring of the reality, and any real picture, sculpture, performance, text, and film about some kind of a charcoal  of deep feelings and emotions - a process that is equable to the rate of burning and the temperature that is felt within the work of art. His works, often dark and gloomy, trigger our thoughts on the fire, flames and charring that are part of our material and spiritual life, on our transitioning from one state to unfold towards another, and mostly on how to get the spark and life to light and burn again.

The works Dimitar Grozdanov creates go beyond all stereotypes and norms, show a masterful display of materials, open up new neoplastic approaches, reframe existential situations and processes we come across in our lives, such as the sense of loneliness, love, and communication, interaction with and engagement in nature, transformation, life, and death. His installations and performances tell stories of events, conditions and emotions left over from scars of the past and the things we miss. His works often give the earth, the nature, and the millions of different kinds of animals this majestic touch of a poem by refracting their image through his own to create an inner, private image of himself. The pet, the beloved companion in one’s life, is an expression of the author’s idea for generosity, peace of mind and home.

The first exhibitions, performances and happenings from the second half of the 80s in Bulgaria, with the participation of critics, brought about a feeling that in the years to follow turned into a routine – the critic being an integral part of the overall artistic process as a trigger and exhibition organizer, doing analyses and developing ideas, until it gets to the point when he takes upon himself all conceptual and practical work related to a certain exhibition, performance or festival program. Dimitar Grozdanov plays the role of an active participant in all art processes successfully, leaving “a hot and fiery trail“ behind him. His senses respond to the sequence of events and patterns in society that pave the way for unusual forms, events, experiments and games in our art. This is what excites and inspires him as an artist, art critic and journalist throughout his creative work. He does not put any limits on the works he creates in terms of form, texture, materials, and genres, he interweaves arts, gives freedom to the mind and body and often gives them expression in his texts.

The Process–Space Festival for contemporary art is the place showcasing the image that depicts what Dimitar Grozdanov really is – an artist, critic, curator, organizer, friend, and bohemian all in one. The project was first started in 1992 in Balchik, as a stage where to hold debates and trying out new things, a place where all possible quests, styles and individual interests in art may cross paths not only in the space where the art is displayed or in the time they were brought into existence, but in the concepts as well. The festival is international and has been held every year for the last 30 years; its pattern lives in the dynamics, the unknown, in the expectation of how the ideas of those taking part in the processes of communication and interaction would transform, and to introduce new ideas and new people.

The From Charcoal to Fire exhibition showcases the producer Dimitar Lipovanski’s documentary Dante and the Airy Feather (2022). The storyline features the work and life of Dimitar Grozdanov through the eyes of friends and colleagues, recreates projects, workshops, presentations, and thought, and captures his notable presence and role for the development of the Bulgarian contemporary art.

Hristina Bobokova (September 2022)