25 March - 12 April 2024



Ilyan Lalev


25 March – 12 April 2024


BLACK DRAWINGS is an exhibition that tries objectively to reflect and at the same time to focus the audience’s attention on negativity – the ontological happening in the present, in which the contradictions between metaphysics and dialectics lose meaning.

We are witnesses of wars, mass migration flows, and earthquakes, often resulting in loss of human life or exploitation of hard physical labor. And it is the right of every artist to choose whether to react to all of this or to give free rein to his imagination, creating his own subjective world, similar to l’art pour l’art and to start living in it. I chose the former, and I immediately want to clarify that the inspiration for this comes not only from the brutal present, but also from Francisco Goya and his "Black Paintings". I have always admired not only Goya's mastery, but also the fact that he evolved from a "court painter" to a free artist, considered by art critics to be a fierce critic of his time and at the same time a founder of modern art. What a choice! To give up on yourself in order to be even more yourself! Like Goya, I have included 14 works in the exposition, tentatively called drawings even though they are executed on canvas, drawn with acrylic and charcoal, and among them are some in large formats. Monochrome tones of the lowest register predominate, and the heavy black outline of the charcoal completes the dramatic – sometimes painful – sense of the fact that for many people, the world is not a good place to live. And if I cannot, in this context and in this moment, wish you a pleasant viewing, then let's, as we view, think about how we can change it for the better.

Ilyan Lalev




*About the Artist

Ilyan Lalev was born in Nova Zagora in 1962. He graduated from the National Academy of Arts (under the tutelage of Prof. Naiden Petkov) in 1987.

Since the mid-1990s, Ilyan Lalev has actively participated in the process of updating Bulgarian art and painting in particular. He believes in the equality of all the means of expression as a function of a given work of art and rejects the apologists’ theory that contemporary art has “rejected brushes and paints”.

Ilyan Lalev is the author of many exhibitions (installations, performances, campaigns), many of them with social and political orientation, such as: the audiovisual structure Waiting for Contact (1998), the installation At Closed Doors (1998), the performance L’protest pour l’protest (2013), the campaign No to the Replacement, no to the Аrt Оligarchy in front of Sofia City Art Gallery (2015).

Along the same lines, he created two Life art projects – PGQ I and II (Post-graduate qualifications – a boxing coach and a cook, video, print and readymade), reflecting the impact of the changing politico-economic infrastructure on culture in the context of post-communist society in Bulgaria. In 2015, Ilyan Lalev created and curated the project Scales of…which emerged as the only organized forum for social and political visual art in Bulgaria, and which has had four editions.

The artist has had more than 15 solo exhibitions, including: Details of the Interior (1995, Ladder Gallery), At Closed Doors (1998, Rayko Aleksiev Gallery), Handmade(1999 – ATA – Center for Contemporary Art), Waiting for Contact (2000, Irida Gallery), Missed Opportunity (2008, Art Alley Gallery), Painted Observations (2013, Rakursi Gallery), Rip Tide (2021, Stubel Gallery) and many more.

The author

Ilian Lalev