Educational Course Plovdiv


Introduction to Contemporary Art is an educational platform started in 2011 by the Open Arts Foundation and Sariev Gallery in collaboration with the art historians Svetlana Kuyumdjieva, Vessela Nozharova and Vera Mlechevska. It aims to create a context and understanding of contemporary art in Bulgaria.

The program includes open lectures and artist talks that until 2014 were held in Sofia, in venues such as SKLADA /+/, the Sofia City Art Gallery and the Vivacom Art Hall. In 2015, a lecture series was organized for the first time in Plovdiv.

The following artists have so far taken part in the program: Stefan Nikolaev, Nedko Solakov, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Krassimir Terziev, Peter Tzanev, Boris Missirkov, Georgi Bogdanov, Pravdoliub Ivanov and Boryana Rossa.

Over the years the program has been supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation, the Kultura National Fund and the Vivacom Fund.

Access to the program is free, with advance booking, since 2012.


LECTURE SERIES PLOVDIV is a series of five lectures designed to familiarize the general public with the artists, exhibitions, museums and ideas that have driven contemporary art since the 1960s. No previous knowledge of the history of art is required, simply a curiosity about art and those who make it, and a desire to make museum going a more meaningful experience.

The first three lectures will provide an overview of what contemporary art is. A selection of key works representative of its main movements will be viewed and discussed. Special attention will be paid to the places and institutions working in support of contemporary art, such as museums, galleries, international exhibitions and art fairs.

The last two of the lectures will be dedicated to contemporary art in Bulgaria. The first one will cover the period between 1984 and 1994, and what at the time was termed unconventional art. The second one will focus on the period between 1995 and 2005, when contemporary art in Bulgaria was gradually institutionalized and professionalized. It is also the decade when Bulgarian contemporary art became a part of the international art scene.

Vessela Nozharova, lecturer

4 April 2015

What is Contemporary Art?

This lecture is a broad introduction to the history of contemporary art in the world. We will briefly discuss its language, terminology, typology, techniques, materials, movements and historical context. We will also look at a number of interpretative approaches to help us understand it more fully. A working definition of contemporary art will be offered, which will serve us as a basis for the rest of the course.

Full video

18 April 2015

The Artist is in the Center

This lecture will tell the history of contemporary art by focusing on individual artists and artworks. We will look at those who have defined and redefined art since the Second World War and discuss their artistic philosophies, strategies and innovations. A key ingredient of the lecture will be the opportunity to view and comment on individual artworks.

Full video

25 April 2015

Mediators in Contemporary Art

How does contemporary art reach its public? What is the role of the institutions working in support of the artist, such as art museums and their collections? Why are international biennials and art fairs important? Special attention will be paid to the curators – without whom art wouldn’t be the same. We will also look at the evolution of exhibitions from a historical perspective – to help us make sense of exhibitions today, and discuss the role of art collectors.

Full video

2 May 2015

Contemporary Art in Bulgaria (Part 1)

This lecture will focus on the history of contemporary art in Bulgaria, specifically the period between 1984 and 1994 – a decade of dissent and rebellion, when a variety of new forms such as happenings, performance art and political actions (what critics then called unconventional art) came into existence. This history is impossible to understand without the history of late communism, the perestroika, the eventual collapse of the regime and the ensuing political changes. We will discuss individual works such as Water Dragon by Vesselin Dimov, 1983, the first documented work of contemporary art in Bulgaria, as well as the output of other artists and art collectives that have changed the Bulgarian art scene forever.

Full video

16 May 2015

Contemporary Art in Bulgaria (Part 2)

The busy decade between 1995 and 2005 was marked by unprecedented artistic activity and achievement. Spurred by the growth of new media, a new generation of talented and active young artists was making their presence known. Bulgarian contemporary art was being recognized abroad. The period also gave rise to a number of contemporary art institutions such as the Soros Center for Contemporary Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art Sofia, the Ata-Ray Gallery, the XXL Gallery and others. It was a decade of dizzying ambition and of faith in art’s potential to make the world a better place.

Full video


VESSELA NOZHAROVA (1974) is a free lance curator and art critic. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the National Academy of Art in Sofia. Nozharova has worked at the Union of Bulgarian Artists, the Irida Gallery and ATA Center for Contemporary Art in Sofia. Between 2003 and 2006 she managed the visual arts program of the Red House for Culture and Debate in Sofia. In 2007 Nozharova curated the Bulgarian participation at the 52nd Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, while in 2008 she was assistant curator of the 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture. She has also curated a number of exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad. She is a co-founder of the Art Affairs and Documents Foundation.

Vessela Nozharova, lecturer




16 May 2015 – Contemporary Art in Bulgaria (Part 2)