Sofia City Art Gallery presents a retrospective exhibition by Rayko Alexiev, which you can visit from 18 June 14 to July 2019.

Rayko Alexiev is an emblematic figure for the Bulgarian cultural heritage. Signed with a nickname Fra the Devil and is gaining popularity with its cartoons, feuilletons and articles. Engaging in such provocative activity, and in turbulent historical times, his art inevitably collided with politics and led to his demise in 1944.


Born in 1893, Rayko Alexiev draws as a child. Only 19-years-old is now the editor and main cartoonist of the humorous Ludokos magazine. 

Over the years, he has worked in various publications such as Laugh Magazine, I Know Everything, and more. By the end of the First World War he had already published the collections "The Life-Saving Booklet" and "Sturec", and his cartoons were published on the pages of leading magazines in our country such as "Bulgarian" and "Drum". He has also made numerous solo exhibitions.


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During 1925 he directed and played the leading role in the comedy film Insidious Princess Turandot, worked on the documentary "Bulgaria in Pictures", co-illustrator and compiled readings for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wards. He also works in the Zora newspaper, where he is also the first publication of the Humorous History of the Bulgarian People.


His multifaceted community service also expanded to work as chairman of the Union of Artists' Associations. He devotes time and resources to supporting the members of the union, works for the benefit of persecuted artists, and opens the gallery on Rakovski Street, 125, which now bears his name.


On a personal note, Rayko Alexiev marries actress Vesela Grancharova in 1939, of which she has three sons.


His overly active and provocative profession, his various pursuits and his undeniable talent prove inconvenient to the new government after September 9 1944. He is arrested as an "enemy of the people" for (but not only) his cartoons of Stalin with Alexander Bozhinov, Alexander Dobrinov and Konstantin Kamenov - his fellow cartoonists.



The violence that has been practiced on him for almost a month also leads to his tragic death. Before his arrest, his relatives ask him to leave the country, but he says no:
"I'm not a politician. I have shown the mistakes of politicians, I have tried with my cartoons to make fun of what some politicians do and it is harmful to the people. I have no money abroad. I paid my taxes regularly. I served everyone and gave with both hands. I have taken nothing from anyone and I have not wronged anyone. I'm not a rat to leave the ship when it sinks. "

In April, 1945 was sentenced posthumously for "anti-Soviet" and "pro-German" propaganda by the People's Court, in the famous 6 Case. 100 writers, artists, journalists, some have already been killed in the trial. 145 is witnessed by their colleagues, fearful or driven by greed, but not by conscience. His books were banned in communist Bulgaria. After the fall of the regime in 1990, Rayko Alexiev was rehabilitated.


Rayko Alexiev's personality is significant not only in the cultural dimension but also in the socio-political historical reality of the 20th century. His creative work can be touched on thanks to his exhibition Sofia City Art Gallery from 18 June to 14 July.

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