Retrospective exhibition ‘Call Me Usha’ to open at Sofia City Art Gallery

An exhibition of photographic work by Stanka “Usha” Tsonkova opens at Sofia City Art Gallery in Bulgaria’s capital city on December 12 at 6pm and continues until February 4 2024.

Tsonkova began working with classic black and white photography in 1974 and has since crossed all possible boundaries set by this medium, the gallery said in a media statement.

“Her photography is her gaze, her hands-on presence in the process, her touch on the paper, her play with chemistry,” the gallery said.

“Her art is a reflection of emotional flights and painful falls, wanderings, search of the self and ‘scrutiny of the faces behind which friends hide’,” it said.

Although Usha was actively involved in artistic life until the 1990s, she was often alone – she was found too experimental by the photographers, and was alien to the artists.

Her talent, however, did not go unnoticed, and in 1986 she was awarded the Grand Prix at the festival in Royan, France, in the Salon International of the Research Photography section; later on, in 1989, she received the Grand Prix at the same festival, and in 1990 she participated in the FotoFest in Houston, US.

In a man’s world, women in art pay a high price, especially when life chooses for them, the gallery said.

“So, Usha disappeared from the scene for a long time. Japan, where her friendship with Eikoh Hosoe took her, was for Usha the island of contemplation and humbling. At his invitation, she held an exhibition in Shadai Gallery, Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics.”

This cooperation gave birth to the project Embrace – Stone Gardens of 2003, inspired by Hosoe’s book Embrace, by Isamu Noguchi’s stone sculptures, and the Japanese Zen stone gardens.

The project earned a fellowship by the Japan Foundation and was exhibited at the Echigo Tsumary Art Triennale in 2006. Twenty years following its creation, it was shown in the exhibition A Wave Washed a Trace Away at Toplocentrala, Sofia.

The Call Me Usha exhibition is the first time when the artist shares with the audience her work through its various creative stages over the last 50 years, work that continues to inspire to the present day.

The exhibition is realized by the Art – Deeds and Documents Foundation under the project The Social Life of Art funded by the National Culture Fund under the Programme for the Restoration and Development of Private Cultural Organisations, and in partnership with the Sofia City Art Gallery.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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