When staying with Radisson Blu in Sofia you don’t have to go far to find yourself immersed in the world of art. In fact, it starts in the hotel lobby. Read on to find out more about Sofia’s emerging art scene.
There is plenty to gaze at as you walk the decorated marble walls and monolithic spiral staircase of the hotel. Behind the bar, Jimi Hendrix gazes at you as you sit down to a refreshing drink. The piece, known as Mr Brainwash, is a wonderful mosaic of the musicians own records. The Ballroom entrance welcomes you with artworks from a private collection. A piece called the Homeless Man by Yinka Shonibare stands in the lobby. This was part of an exhibition in London to raise awareness for issues affecting homeless people. In place of the man’s head, is a black globe with a quote from the novel The Adventures of Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens.
Other works include an interpretation of The Last Supper by Chinese artist Wang Nengtao and One Hour, by Bulgarian artist Pravdolyub Ivanov, which is a collection of 60 photographs. Look out for photographs of rock legends David Bowie and Keith Richards too, by Mark Seliger. With this eclectic mix on offer, and more, you will definitely find art to suit your taste.
When it is time to leave the hotel and venture out into the city, ask the hotel staff to guide you to the city’s top art spots. Here are our must-sees for art lovers:
Sofia City Art Gallery
This gem of a gallery may not appear to be much from the outside but is surrounded by some fascinating sculptures. Step inside and the interior quickly opens your eyes to the world of art. Founded in 1929, it was initially a place for local artists to exhibit their work. Today’s collection is a great representation of Bulgarian art dating back to the late 19th century up to the present day, through a series of paintings, sculptures, contemporary art and photography. The exhibitions change regularly so be sure to find out what is on while you are in the city.
A journey through Bulgarian art history
This former Bulgarian palace, the National Art Gallery, is impressive inside and out and is the country’s cultural heritage hub. Over 50,000 pieces are waiting for you to come along and browse. The galley displays the works of Bulgarian masters and temporary exhibitions by some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Picasso. You’ll be taken on a journey from the adoption of Christianity and the Roman Empire to the Liberation of Bulgaria during the Ottoman Empire, right up to today’s contemporary artworks. Make sure you also check out the library, which contains an impressive 6,500 publications.
The latest addition to the National Art Gallery, Square 500, opened in 2015. It is one of the most recent venues on the art scene housing over 42,000 items. This gallery combines Bulgaria’s art history with interesting pieces from Africa, Asia and Europe.
An international perspective
Located in another of Sofia’s historic buildings, the National Gallery for Foreign Art is housed in the former Royal Printing Office. Over 10,000 artifacts are displayed across four floors. Paintings, sculptures, graphic works and fine art from all corners of the earth make up 19 rooms of exhibitions.
Eat, sleep and breathe art at the Radisson Blu Grand Hotel, Sofia and then venture out to the city’s galleries and explore Bulgaria’s art heritage.
The Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia is a private, non-profit NGO, an association of curators, artists and cultural theoreticians. It is dedicated to the study, understanding, promotion and practice of the visual arts of the late twentieth and early twenty first century, to the reestablishment and furthering of the dilogue between cultures and art scenes, to the search for an open art dialogue with everyone.
The history of ICA is rooted in the professional partnership between friends who after 1989 shared the vision to open up and develop the Bulgarian contemporary art scene.
The goals of ICA-Sofia are focused on the development of the contemporary art scene in Bulgaria in relation to the world at large - audience. Primary objective is the constant deepening and strehgthening of relations to the international art world - in a two directional and reciprocal manner by triggering and fascilitating a two-way flow of artists, curators and critics, projects, etc. to not only "take" your/our home out into the world, but also to bring "the world" back home.
The spectrum of ICA activities consists of international and local projects for shows, publications, conferences, seminars, short term educational activities, lecture series, etc.
Members of ICA-Sofia are: Iaroslava (Iara) Boubnova (curator), Luchezar Boyadjiev (artist), Mariela Gemisheva (fashion designer), Pravdoliub Ivanov (artist), Alexander Kiossev (cultural theoretician), Kiril Prashkov (artist), Kalin Serapionov (artist), Nedko Solakov (artist), Krassimir Terziev (artist), Stefan Nikolaev (artist), Ivan Moudov (artist).
Visit the Website: www.ica-sofia.org