Artistic side of Sofia

Our favorite art galleries

Written by Claudia Pecoraro in collaboration with Siana Genovska, edited by Lindsay Martin, photos by Giuseppe Di Benedetto

It happens to all of us; sometimes we need to escape the hectic city life and find peace in a noiseless place. We may find it in nature, traveling, hiking, or in the quiet silence of an art exhibition. Museums and art galleries are perhaps some of the best places to take a break and recharge your batteries.

Where are the best places in Sofia to visit an art exhibition?

We asked this question to Siana Genovska, a student at UCL, London, with a strong background in Art History. She was part of the EXPO ARTCO19 team last year (the first and biggest open art exhibition in Bulgaria). She shared information about ARTCO19 and her thoughts about Bulgarian contemporary art in a previous article with Open Bulgaria.

Can you share with us some of the best places in Sofia to visit an art exhibition?

While on your Saturday afternoon stroll in the Doctors’ Garden, why not make a turn on Oborishte str.? It’s an area densely packed with little treats for the soul. I’d start with Oborishte 5 Gallery and Hall

On Saturdays, you can attend atelier classes with your kids. You can immerse yourself in the gallery space, surrounded by pieces by Dali, Miro, and Picasso, amongst others. The gallery team has fashioned a contemplative environment for one’s personal expression. 

What makes the experience so creatively evocative is Oborishte 5’s exquisite collection of early works by the artists, as well as sketches and graphics. You and your tripod are enveloped in an aura of talent in its simplicity — all these great names in art history are deconstructed to basic lines, revealing that all great works of art have a beginning. This beginning simply means creating something that wasn’t there before. A single line on a piece of paper is all it takes to create.

Upon exiting the gallery, you might feel a hunger for more art (and certainly for food!). As you’re headed to “HleBar” on Oborishte 16 to pick up a healthy snack, make sure to turn right just before your final destination. You’ll surely feel compelled to make a painting stop at Gallery Loran. The gallery is currently exhibiting images and places of iconic authors in the Bulgarian fine arts from the beginning and the middle of the XX century. There are paintings by Vladimir Dimitrov, the Master, Alexander Mutafov, Dechko Uzunov, Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, and other familiar names. The exhibition is accompanied by a multitude of stories about the pieces and their owners. It holds the hope of rediscovering and appreciating Bulgarian art by a new audience.

Would you like to share some exhibitions you’ve been to that were worth visiting?

Taking a break from painting, it’s time to switch it up with some photography! Have you seen Golden Globe and Golden Lion winner Chloe Zhao's Nomadland? Here I’m going to sneak in a quick recommendation to do so! The movie submerges the viewer in what seems like an effortless depiction of the desserts of Arizona. It’s a little peep into what exists on the fringe of American capitalism. 

Another powerful exploration of what’s hidden in plain sight is through Konstantin Vulkov’s “Great Little America.” The exhibition nails the atmosphere of the great American west. Vulkov embarks on a nomad journey beyond the 100th meridian, exposing us to the “other” America. It takes two foreigners to depict an, or rather, the American story through images. They’re images of lack - lack of vegetation, lack of means, lack of anything besides dry wind and human stories. Vulkov’s journey seems to have similar pacing to Zhoe’s (characterized by repeatability, uniformity, and sluggishness). The photographer has burdened himself with the harder task of transmitting vivid sensations through still images. He does it so successfully! Unfortunately, the exhibition has already closed, but you can see some of the pictures on the exhibition’s webpage.

Looking for more art?

In today’s article, we dived into some of the most interesting art galleries in Sofia. There are places where you can not only visit an exhibition but also take an active part in the art process. It’s a fascinating and inspiring way to get closer to art.

There are several approaches to discover your new favorite art gallery. One of those is to wander around Sofia’s streets on a lazy Saturday afternoon and let your instinct guide you. Perhaps a small door between a coffee shop or a library catches your attention. You step in and discover a little collection of paintings or photographs. And then you spend the next two hours digging into the fascinating world you’ve just found.

We shared only some of the places worth visiting, but the list is longer. There are other galleries we haven’t mentioned - hidden gems and lesser-known places. Do you know any of those? If so, feel free to share your favorite art galleries and museums in Sofia!

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