Academia Gallery


Dr. Gatev in the “Academy” gallery..!?


Dr. Galentin Gatev, You Hear What You See. The Pictures are Hung on the Walls, exhibition at the Academy Gallery, April 2-7, 2012

A test for Gatev or for the institution? The author mounts a text on the wall insisting that “The Pictures are Hung on the Walls”. Behind this apparent banality lies a latent energy of poststructuralist pathos. The energy of analytic-ironic skepticism about any established convention, authority and institutionality.

Right here in the Academy, where for more than 100 years training has been conducted on how to make paintings, what is painting and art, someone with an imperative tone reminds where the paintings should be. Those who are convinced that paintings are placed on the walls will be disappointed. The exhibition is for the others who have doubted this. They are few and for them the question can be academic.

Dr. Gatev leads us into this absurdity. I was also directed in the role of a curator – with the biography of a painter, secretary of the “Painting” section at the UBA (Union of the Bulgarian Artists) and a professor at the NAA (National Academy of Art). I accepted Gatev’s invitation – “let’s dance this tango”, although I knew that the steps were not two forwards and one back. I accepted because I don’t have bad self-esteem and my skepticism and doubt about meanings don’t confuse me to the point where I give up looking for them.

What is this exhibition?! What is this author? For those who have been “following the text” for the past 20 years – Dr. Gatev, a dermatovenerologist by profession, is one of those neo-avant-garde artists of the post-communist years who proposed a new mode of art production. They undermined the traditional convention of legitimate figurative languages by introducing speculative, manipulative, conceptualized interpretations of borrowings from social and cultural reality. Gatev is an author with an intriguing “Neo-Dadaist game strategy”, with subtle observation, critical reflection, with an imagination for building a paradoxical situation in which the viewer is “twisted” in complex and contradictory meaning connections.

The video installation “You Hear What You See”, mounted onto the glass door of the gallery, reveals the paradox of a denotative text. In the place where “Academy Gallery” was written, a luminous inscription “Eye-Ear Clinic” is projected. The energy of this work is amplified many times over by exposure to the specific environment and context.

A center of the entire exhibition is the text installation “The Pictures are Hung on the Walls”. This work, in the spirit of Kosuth, Berry and Ben Vautier, as well as the drawings, photographs and objects, problematizes the confrontation cavalierly / conceptually. The author positions himself between the two with a subtly ironic comment on the relapse of cavaletization and simulations of conceptual ideas. The works polemize the sham, the substitution of sense and meanings, the artistic inferiority of artistic articulations in the contemporary cultural context.

With well-framed and proposed works, Gatev takes a self-ironic look at a representative part of his work, cavaletizing it. As the author declares: “I, the marginal, feel compelled to engage in a false self-identification in order to be able to say: I want to free myself from the proverbial cavalcade, I want to protect myself from the proverbial modernity.”

Discovering problematic issues in the internal discourse of contemporary art, Dr. Gatev’s project stands provocatively and topically in the context of the National Academy of Art institution.

Stanislav Pamukchiev