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Title: How to create an ideal past : continuities from the Communist era in the relationship between abstract and figurative painting in post-Communist Bulgaria
Author: Pancheva-Kirkova, Nina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5370 7640
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2015
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By engaging with ‘realism’ in the context of Socialist Realism in Bulgaria, a notion that inhabits the space in between fine art, ideology and art history, this practice-based research offers new insight into the examination of continuities between fine art during Communism and post-Communism, exploring the relationship between the abstract and the figurative and their functioning both within, and exceeding, the pictorial space of painting. The two main research questions that inform the studio work and underpin this study have been: How can art practice explore the official representations of Socialist Realism in post-Communist Bulgaria in the axis between photography and painting? How can this process affect an understanding of the relationship between abstract and figurative painting within the context of ‘realism’ of Socialist Realism and contemporary fine art in the country? By focusing on these research questions, this study conceptualises the relationship between the abstract and the figurative in the context of Socialist Realism in fine art in Bulgaria and its official representations after the collapse of the Communist regime. This relationship marked one of the central oppositions in fine art during the Communist era in the country, often constituting a dividing line between what was considered ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ art. This study is concerned with the differences in the definitions of ‘realism’ within Socialist Realism in Bulgaria over the years, differences which may be considered as ruptures in its development. Yet it acknowledges these differences within the framework imposed by the Communist ideology. The latter remained unchangeable, yet had a determining impact on the development of fine art throughout the Communist period. Furthermore, the study explores how fragments of this framework are transferred into the post-Communist period, and how they function in state-funded institutional representations of Socialist Realist works and in examples of former ‘official’ artists’ works, as well as in the readings of Socialist Realism after the fall of the Communist regime, readings which fluctuate between the oppositions of ‘official or unofficial’ art, praise or disavowal of Socialist Realism. In order to explore both the ruptures and the continuities, the research looks at Socialist Realism and its specificities in Bulgaria in relation to Socialist Realism in fine art in the Soviet Union and other post-Communist countries in Eastern Europe. The relationship between the abstract and the figurative is situated within this context and explored through a series of transformations of photographic sources into paintings. These transformations are performed by my practice, engaging with the photographic sources’ production, dissemination and display in relation to ‘realism’ in Socialist Realism.
Supervisor: Bishop, Ryan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: ND Painting ; HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism