Why would it be interesting and important to publish an interview
about a gallery in Veliko Turnovo?
NARRATIVA.GALLERY is based in Veliko Turnovo, at 40 Stefan Stambolov Street.
The space officially opened its doors on the 23th of July 2022 and days before that, I had the opportunity to interview Gancho and learn more about the project, its core idea and what to expect in the future.
In my opinion it is important, because this gallery is unusual! The idea of having a traditional gallery space used to showcase graffiti art, which is meant to be on the walls of the STREETS.
Imagine shooting street photography, but in a gallery… Frankly, this sort of freedom of expression shouldn’t even be in question. In countries like Bulgaria though, such opportunities are everywhere and there are many unexplored fields for action and creation.
And secondly, because of its location – the old part of the city of Veliko Turnovo. Why the location? Because it brings a fresh wave of creativity. The space presents an opportunity to those who might be researching for a city in Bulgaria that has international environment with likeminded people and social life that allows them to be in touch with the modern social views as well tradition Bulgarian culture.
Here we can also touch base with the topic of decentralization, which is critical in Bulgaria, nowadays. Many activists in the artistic scene in Bulgaria are pointing out at this topic and actively working on collaborating together in order to create more activities, opportunities and bring the attention of people to their cities.
If you are a Bulgarian or a foreigner looking to move, find a residency space or IT professional who wants to have a social life rich with interesting interactions, various activities, calm environment and fresh air, then VT might be a considerable choice for you!
It's February 2023 now and so far the NARRATIVA has hosted a few exhibitions:
Gancho Ganchev - Gana, Veliko Turnovo, July 2022
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Gancho Ganchev – Gana.
An artist who lives in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Quite a large part of my creative work takes its place here and most of my projects are spread between Veliko Turnovo as well as Sofia.
Tell us about the project NARRATIVA.GALLERY?
The NARRATIVA … this is a very big dream of mine that became true, organically. I didn’t look for the place at all costs, nor did I pushed things to happen. It all took its own course and came together on its own at the right time.
Together with Lina Lyapcheva, we decided to create room for visual artists right here in Veliko Turnovo, because I think there is a real need for another modern space where events can take place and alternative, talented authors and their work can be showcased.
When we first saw the space, I said to myself, surely this is our space and where we will start our activity. It is perfect for the artists from our industry, who lack such a space where maximum freedom is given to each author. They can transform the space according to their own vision with interventions on the very walls of the gallery.
The idea is to be able to transform the space as they see fit, which is really quite important for authors who work in the field of mural painting! The first artist we are showcasing is Nikolay Petrov or known as GLOW. He is from Sofia. Quite well known in the modern mural painting scene. Very recognizable with the colors and shapes he uses. He works in many different countries worldwide on private and public projects. With this said, I should mention that in the future, we have artists from other countries placed in our program and we can’t wait to present their work in the gallery.
Here you can see footage from the opening of the solo exhibition by GLOW back in July 2022!
Artist: Nikolay Petrov - GLOW, Video: Veselin Simeonov - VESKO, Curator: Gancho Ganchev - GANA
Narrativa.Gallery, Veliko Turnovo, July 2022
Alright, but let’s go back a little bit. What was the initial idea and intention related to the idea of having such a gallery in the first place?
The idea behind creating the space was decentralization as well as a space for graffiti artists to show their work in unusual environment. In our case, on the walls of an actual gallery space.
We could have made the gallery in a much larger city in Bulgaria, like Sofia or Plovdiv. However, I find something magical and extraordinary in the city of Veliko Turnovo.
Here, we have a large concentration of traditional art, people who respect it and at the same time new things are also created and immerging. These components, combined together are meant to enrich people's views and interests to a greater extent. Confirmation of this is, people's response to the idea and its realization.
In my opinion, the city also needed a different kind of alternative space, and let's say that the gallery is also a space with a social cause. Our cause supports the free expression of the authors, which we will show you in time with the coming up exhibitions. Alongside with that, reaching audiences and showcasing authors who are not that well known to everyone, brings fresh perspectives. The authors are very tantalum and identical in their own styles.
Each of them works with a clear direction as an artist, which is very important and difficult to achieve in the current day and age. It can be said, that our desire was to create an independent scene for graffiti artists who perform and work in field of graffiti in Bulgaria, and have that space in an unexpected location like Veliko Turnovo.
Details of the solo exhibition ESCAPISM by GLOW, July 2022
Does graffiti art communicate with mural painting as a genre in art?
Yes. I use the term mural painting to also refer to contemporary mural painting, which to some extent is what society calls graffiti.
That across the street from us on the wall is a mural painting. The technique that was used is graffiti, one of the classical and monumental techniques, which is quite durable over time. The term mural painting is also used for drawings with paint on a wall. In actuality painting on a wall is called Secco. This is the term for the technique, which is used. It can be said, we are inspired by the graffiti scene.
Old town, Veliko Turnovo
Also, we do not limit ourselves to just this one type of painting. In fact, quite the opposite. I follow a lot of classical artists, and I think the greater inspiration comes from impressionism for example and other more classical movements.
Many artists are inspired and have been inspired for a long time now by something that has been done before or that already exists. What is being done now, is infusing new energy into the already existing matters, which can be seen not only here, but also all over the world. Indeed, some of the best expositions in the world are also done by graffiti artists, who have turned to the contemporary movement.
In Veliko Tarnovo, do the traditional and the modern work together?
For instance, in the architecture, in the legacy of the traditional mural art that a visitor of the city can see and the inserting presence of today's graffiti movement as you and I know it.
This is my observation. What is your perspective, as someone who lives and works here?
Exactly. The architecture of the city, the traditional art, and the murals are connected at the same time with the modern arts and what was already here, thousands of years ago. Fortunately, the municipality of Veliko Turnovo recognizes our initiatives and supports us. Both, our gallery and other communities in the city.
We are grateful for the support! In big part of the city it is difficult to make interventions, because of the origin of the existing works. We fully comply with this and work together in the direction of modernizing the new part of the city. NARRATIVA gallery is the place in the old town where we can create on the walls without harming the authentic look of our surroundings. That was one of our main ideas.
A project we are currently working on, aims to create an opportunity for graffiti artists to create in an urban environment without interfering with the authentic look of walls of the city and other acreage of the town.
Work by Gancho Ganchev, old town Veliko Turnovo
What do you think makes one place unique and special? In the line of the works that will appear in the gallery?
Each artist leaves a part of themselves and their work in the gallery and this is what makes the gallery special and unique.
Everything in life is based on the past and what happened there. That's not bad of course. I myself draw inspiration from previous authors, and they from others before them.
Overall, the idea is not uniqueness, this is an ego problem that I think we all have to work on. The idea is to have an environment, space to create, develop our artistic urges and move forward.
What are yours plans for the gallery?
In the present moment, part of the plan is happening. The gallery and its opening on the 23th of July 2022! The dream is already a reality.
For the future, the plan is not to stagger in just one direction, to have elements of surprise. We will not only show old or only new contemporary artists. We will strive to show diversity in the field of visual arts.
Gancho Ganchev - Gana, Veliko Turnovo, July 2022
Who can contact you?
We have the intention to launch an open call and reach wider range of artists. An open call for young artists and one open call with no particular criteria. Perhaps we will form a jury for one or both open calls, which can support the artists with their solo exhibitions.
But firstly, we would like to introduce several authors. And so, step by step, we will be able to provide an opportunity to meet and showcase more artists.
They can find us on our social media channels:
How do you want to end this interview?
I am extremely happy that our community projects are happening and I am grateful to everyone who is helping us and the other organizations in the city.
Thank you for the support!
This project is supported by the National Culture Fund, 2022