CULTURE

Modernism in the Balkans

Developments in modern art with the most far-reaching and profound impact took place in the major artistic hubs primarily in the first half of the 20th century. These are the movements that have earned a place in art history and have shaped our perception of art. But these «official» art movements also bred lesser-known, regional manifestations of modernism that evolved in countries far from the large cities and artistic centers. «Faces of Modernism: Painting in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece: 1910-1940,» an exhibition that will be open for just one more week at the B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music, explores the offshoots of modernism in these three countries and makes comparisons between them. The exhibition, which was previously presented at the National Museum of Art of Romania in Bucharest and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, (the two museums to which many of the works on view belong) has been curated by Mariana Vida, Irina Genova and Takis Mavrotas. Structured around the themes of «Space,» «History and National Identity» and the «Human Figure,» the exhibition has gathered works by artists of all three nationalities in a way that enables visual comparisons. At first glance, the overall impression is that the paintings by the Romanian and Bulgarian artists are darker in color as well as in atmosphere. Most of the artists represented in the exhibition studied in the major European artistic centers. They combined the avant-garde movements that they studied abroad with their own domestic visual styles, inspired by regional traditions, and attempted to establish a clear national identity. According to Christos Karras, the exhibition’s coordinator, this attempt is what distinguishes modernism on the European periphery (the Balkan region, in this case) from that of the major artistic centers. According to Roxana Teodorescu, the general director of the National Museum of Art of Romania, the exhibition represents the first attempt to investigate the unexplored topic of modernism in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria from the period 1910-40. In her introduction to the exhibition catalog, Teodorescu also notes that researchers in recent years have become increasingly interested in the topic of modernism, ascribing this to contemporary society’s inclination toward exploring the movement’s roots. «Faces of Modernism: Painting in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece: 1910-1940» at the B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts & Music (1 Merlin & Vassilissis Sofias, tel 210.361.1206) to May 9.