portrait of Vaska Emanuilova / artist Ruska Marinova

Many young people today may not have heard the name, which has a very logical explanation, since the sculptor created it before 1989 and with its changes, its tracks are about to be lost. However, Vaska Emanuilova continues to be identified as the first woman to leave a lasting mark on Bulgarian art.

Born in 1905 in the village of Komshtica, she quickly navigates her desires and finds her calling - to create. In 1927 she graduated from the State Academy of Arts and boasts that her teachers were great figures in Bulgarian art, such as the sculptor Prof. Ivan Lazarov and the artist Prof. Teno Todorov. Since she does not have her own studio, Marin Vassilev gives her one of her own at the academy. In addition to sculpture, Vaska is engaged in painting and immediately after graduation is already participating in exhibitions of women artists.



Vaska Emanuilova is not limited to just one genre, style and material to work with. She uses equally skillfully plaster, bronze and clay to sculpt figures in the fields of small plastic, bare body, historical and everyday composition and portrait. It is a notorious fact that she creates portraits and sculptures of her fellow artists: Nikolay Khrelkov, Ilia Petrov, Georgi Mashev, Vasil Stoilov, Ivan Nenov, Stefan Dimitrov and others.


Particularly strongly influenced by her work is her three-month residency in Paris, in 1939. There, she gained a strong interest in the woman and her relationship with other women. Vaska often sculpts female bodies in erotic poses, having a pronounced intimate relationship with each other. The busts he creates are extremely vivid and as if their faces tell stories. Eyes are looking forward or inward toward themselves, but they always say something to those who are open to see and hear.


In addition to female physics, Vaska has an interest in the nature, nature, lifestyle of the rural man and Christian imagery. These are found in her watercolors and her drawings, which also bear the artist's specific handwriting.


As a co-founder and member of the Society of New Artists, Vaska is always looking for the new, connecting and giving stage to young authors united by their interest in European trends in the arts. All members of the society are young people who have just graduated, who are seeking to change the status quo, arguing that art must be connected to reality, to the problems of ordinary people and to be subject to the principles of the most modern trends in sculpture, graphics and painting.

Unfortunately, the company has a short life - it only exists from 1931 to 1944. With the change of political power, all travelers to the West who have exhibitions and are in creative bloom are declared formalists. The company ends quickly, but fortunately many of its members survive, and some, such as Ivan Nenov, teach and thus "open the eyes" of young artists to Western art.


On February 4, 1985, apparently anticipating its end, Vaska donates to 90 Sofia City Art Gallery his sculptures, 48 watercolors and 35 drawings. She leaves this world on 11 July, but her art remains, and after her death the gallery opens a permanent exhibit with her works at a branch of 6 September Street, 9. However, political changes soon followed and the branch closed for 12 years. It was not until 2006 that it was rebuilt as a branch of the Sofia City Art Gallery and was named "Vaska Emanuilova". In addition, her works are stored in the National Art Gallery and those in Plovdiv, Ruse, Varna, Burgas, Dobrich and in private collections in the country and around the world.


Vaska Emanuilova Gallery is a museum center that preserves and displays the work of the sculptor, exploring it as part of Bulgarian history and culture. The team of the gallery (with director Adelina Fileva) strives to carry out dialogue between the generations, giving an exhibition space for contemporary art and young authors and a field of various artistic events and initiatives. Museum and sculpture exhibitions are organized, related to Vaska Emanouilova's life and work.


The gallery is also a meeting place for young artists. It is a kind of platform that gives young artists a chance to step inside the museum, present installations, paintings and graphics. The competitive nature in the selection of the artists enables each of them to learn how to prepare their concept and bring it to a ready form for presentation to the public. The gallery has already discovered quite a few talents that are now well-established authors. This is a way to continue the work of Vaska, who also sought the new not only in the Bulgarian traditions but also in the Western European ones.


In the period January - March this year the exhibition "Read" was presented, which explores Vaska's relationships with other artists and traces her work through documents and archives that tell about her life and place in Bulgarian art. In addition to her distinct personality in her plastic tongue, Vaska is also described as sincere, combative, ready to protect the other creators, regardless of the opinion of the then authorities. And for the interesting depth and beauty of her face, we can see from the portraits her colleagues painted on her. She often posed for Ivan Nenov, Elka Konstantinova, Svetlin Rusev. These portraits of today reveal to us Vaska and her states, which she has gone through over the years.

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