On the 2nd of February in the National Gallery, Sofia Arsenal – Museum of Contemporary Art was opened Houben Tcherkelov’s first solo exhibition in 18 years. The artist created ten art works especially for the occasion, interpretive paintings of prominent figures in Bulgarian art, such as Ivan Mrkvička, Anton Mitov, Jaroslav Věšín, Ivan Milev, depicting them on banknotes. Called Worth, the exhibition is under the patronage of Ms. Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria.

As a basis for his painting in recent years, the artist used visual images taken from financial documents such as banknotes, coins, checks, bonds, cogitating on the relationship between politics, finance, history, and art. Besides being a monetary token, for the artist the banknote is a visual code, a collection of symbols and signs, a means of knowing and evaluating art in terms of value. It is also a material unit for the easiest and most natural international exchange: created at different times, printed in different places, it provokes Houben in his reflections on the place of the artist and the role of art. The paintings, interpreted by  Houben Tcherkelov, are present on banknotes printed in the 1920s at the American Banknote Co.

Houben Tcherkelov (Houben R.T.) was born in 1970. He lives and works in New York. In his early works—photographs, films, and installations—he depicts themes related to the period of transition in Bulgaria’s most recent history and to post-Socialist society. In his current works, he recreates images that come from financial documents, using foil and acrylic. His works have been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; the Brogan Museum, Florida; La Biennale di Venezia 54; and galleries in Boston, New York, and other cities.

The material was provided by the National Gallery.

Photos: Diplomatic Spectrum and National Gallery

1. At the opening of the exhibition: Houben Tcherkelov, Slava Ivanova, director of the National Gallery, Antoaneta Baycheva, Head of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Nadezhda Dzhakova, Head of Sofia Arsenal - MCA

2. 100 levs banknote, 2017, mixed media

3. Paisius, 2017, mixed media

4. Drover Lad, 2017, mixed media