What’s On: Exhibitions Tcherkelov’s ‘120 Bills’ and Ushev’s ‘In the mirror, dimly’

An exhibition entitled “120 Bills” by Houben Tcherkelov is being held for the first time in Europe, opening at the National Archaeological Institute’s museum in Sofia on February 21 and continuing until March 31 2018.

The Tcherkelov project is made up of 120 paintings all of the same size, drawn in a complex modern technique, brought to perfection in the workshop of the artist. The images are of prominent figures of different cultures, countries and historical narratives selected from portraits printed or engraved on old and new money – notes and coins of different bank systems.

Money is a recurrent theme in the works of Tcherkelov, who was born and educated in art in Bulgaria but who has lived and worked in New York since 2000. He became popular in the US art market with his paintings of American banknotes of the past two centuries.

Among them are emblematic symbols such as The Eye of Providence on the US dollar bill and the portrait of the founding father Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill, based on Henry Hall’s engraving and portraits by Joseph-Stiffred Duplessis.

Among the images in the current exhibition are those of Zahari Zograf, Konstantin Brancusi, Ivan Vazov, Benjamin Franklin, Goethe, Galileo and Ivan Milev.

Alexander von Humboldt, Josip Broz Tito, John Adams, Cortes, Albert Einstein, Velasquez, Copernicus and Bellini are among historical figures, artists, politicians, travellers, militants, revolutionaries or pacifists, also portrayed in the exhibition. All of these characters have once become part of the narrative and design of the monetary system, and now for a second time they experience a new graphical interpretation.

The exhibition opening is on February 21 2018 at 6.30pm at the National Archaeological Institute Мuseum in Sofia, 2 Suborna street.

Drawings on thermal rescue blankets, video art and the first mixed reality installation in Bulgaria are merged into the art project, “In the mirror, dimly” by Theodore Ushev, another successful Bulgarian expat. It will be on display at the Sofia City Gallery, 1 Gurko Street until March 11 2018.

The project challenges the viewers to search for the hidden message, the meaning beyond the visible, the alternative point of view. It addresses the concept of individual and social fear and hypocrisy, of salvation and annihilation as individual and social acts, in the words of a statement by the gallery about the exhibition.

Theodore Ushev  is a Bulgarian animator, graphic designer, illustrator and multimedia artist who lives in Canada and has 16 films to his credit. He is most famous for his animation film, Blind Vaisha, which was nominated for an Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards. It did not win the award but was acclaimed in Canada and Europe and listed in several film festivals.

The project “In the mirror, dimly” will introduce viewers to one of the most innovative and attractive trends in visual art with the help of a special helmet and goggles. Mixed reality experimental technology uses digital 3D pictures and images in an optical illusion that mixes them with the viewer’s surroundings. This results in an interactive experience of mixing the real and the virtual world where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.

Exploring the themes of vanity, deception, and salvation as  a personal and social act, the artist ‘labels’ his drawings using hidden messages made visible exclusively through ultraviolet light. The installation features periphrases of and references to the books of Ecclesiastes and Corinthians in the Christian Bible, as well as sound bites by Angela Merkel, Boiko Borissov, Vladimir Putin, Volen Siderov, Donald Trump, and Kornelia Ninova.

“In the mirror, dimly” is the first big solo project developed by Ushev in Bulgaria outside cinematography. Commissioned by governmental and private organisations, the artist has carried out similar initiatives, exhibitions and installations in various venues around the world, including the Barbican in London, the Museum of Civilization in Quebec, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Ljubljana, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Annecy in France.

From Ushev’s ‘In a mirror, dimly’ exhibition. Photo: Sofia City Art Gallery.




The Sofia Globe staff

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