PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE – The Art of Roumen Statkov

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Roumen Statkov

There are a  few pleasant memories, from my twenty year stay in Bulgaria, which didn’t come under the heading of ‘people who want things,’ because many Bulgarians and expats alike, saw me as an opportunity to get fresh idea’s, inspiration, quick solutions, or even easy money.

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Sofia in the early 90s, was a confused and confusing place, and rather like looking in a cracked mirror, everything seemed distorted, as well as back to front. In 1993, it was my turn for inspiration, and the Sofia Western News magazine came into being as a monthly glossy. But what could I put on the front page? That was the question?

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Guess Who?

Instead of photographs of grim faced politicians, a train wreck, wars and famine, it was decided to copy Richard Ingrams ‘The Oldie Magazine,’ and display topical cartoons and caricatures of various prominent Sofia residents, including ambassadors, MPs, and the various people we interviewed. But, who could do this, and what’s more, who was good at doing it? There was only one answer, which turned out to be Roumen Statkov.

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The redoubtable Margaret Thatcher 

Born in 1961, Roumen Graduated from the Secondary School of Fine Arts and later on from The National Art Academy in Sofia with a speciality in graphic arts. He is now the author of many adult and children’s books, complete with unique illustrations, texts, and drawings.

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Mutual friend George Sofkin 

In 1993-1995, he introduced us to his cycle Message to The World, consisting of 33 compositions in an attempt to explain his artistic and philosophical interpretation of today`s existence. Presentations were organized, in cooperation with the British Council, the Open Society and the Club of the Friends of the European Union.

In 1995 he presented his National Emblem Project, bearing Bulgarias highly distinctive national emblem, creating frescos and glass engravings of Bulgaria, displaying – in a number of public places  – painting compositions, whilst working actively, with the diplomatic circles in Sofia.

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In 1998, at the 44th General NATO Assembly, he opened his series of individual exhibition of portraits of famous politicians, who were present at the event; including KingSimeon II, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Javier Solana, General Wesley Clark, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Jacques Chirac. In 2007, Roumen was awarded “The Lomonosov Order” by the National Russian Committee.

His panel work “The Stone Book of Bulgaria” is exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia, and so far, Roumen has had over 70 individual exhibitions and participation in international workshops in Portugal, Turkey, France, Germany, France, Russia, and of course. Bulgaria.

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It’s a pleasure to write about Roumen Statkov in this way, not only because of his sunny disposition, but due to the fact that he has spread his talent throughout many other aspects of European life, including his very early support of the Atlantic Club in Sofia. Implying a profound belief in democracy in general, his imagination and dedication have spread itself throughout many of the more interesting aspects of Bulgarian art.

By Patrick Brigham

 

 

PATRICK BRIGHAM LIVE – Political Correctness in 2017

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Watching a cheap and cheerful TV programme over Christmas, and as an expat, I was appalled to learn what is now considered to be politically incorrect, in modern day viewing circles. The term ‘politically correct,’ will always draw my attention to politicians – and we have had more than enough of these comedians on TV in 2016 – but it seems to apply more so, to what we are supposed to consider as funny and acceptable, both in the media, and in our daily lives.

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Sir Ken Dodd – 2017 New Years Honours List

Funny? I agree that much of historical comedy was fraught with bad taste and sexual innuendo, but it made me laugh, and the majority of people of both genders, and even those who are not too sure. So lets forget the truculent feminists, or the homogenized males amongst us, and take a close look at British Humour.

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Monty Pythons Flying Circus

It seems that America, historically decides what is best in British humour, whereupon the brighter US citizens generally admit to enjoying Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and those less endowed with the little grey cells, tend to like Benny Hill. But we in the UK have had, in the past, a huge choice in comedy, because we also had The Two Ronnies, Hilda Baker, Dick Emery, Betty Marsden, Harry Worth, Charlie Drake– Mick and Montmorency – Sir Ken Dodd, Les Dawson, Morecambe & Wise, or on the other side of the street, Danny La Rue and Larry Grayson – shut that door!

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Benny Hill

Before them came Max Wall, Max Miller, Will Hay, and the Crazy Gang, and a plethora of music hall comedians, and stand up comedians, together with situation comedy actors like Kenneth Williams, Wilfred Bramble, Beryl Reid, Hattie Jacques, Harry H Corbett, and finally Sir Norman Wisdom – Mr. Drysdale, Mr. Drysdale! But, what did they all have in common?

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Sir Norman Wisdom & Mr Drysdale

Well, it was smut, sexual innuendo, near the knuckle skits, all well written sketches, and a great deal of laughter ensued. While these funny people were keeping us glued to our screens, going back in history to the 19th and early 20th centuries, we must not forget naughty seaside post cards, ‘What the Butler Saw’ machines on Brighton and Blackpool seaside piers, all of which was accessible, and enjoyed by ordinary people, simply out for a good time.

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These newly minted critics, arbiters of British good taste, and political correctness seem to have found their place in a world, where present day comedians are not actually very funny – in my book anyway – and given a choice between the droll Michael McIntyre and Jim Davidson – at his most evil – there is no contest.

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I think people want to laugh, and stuck in a huge arena like the O2, and surrounded by a merry audience, we very often confuse amusement, with group hysteria. Back in the confines of home, I have played most of the comedy CD’s – which are a perfect Christmas gift, and easily sent by post to an expat relative – and most of them are just not funny. But, is this because present day comedians are politically correct?

But, back to politics. This year, 2017 will probably be more of the same, and we will be regaled by the usual stuttering and bewildered politico’s, their fiscal ambiguities,  much of which has littered the media during 2016. There will be changes, of course, Nigel Farage will finally dump UKIP from the national agenda, and he will have a nice little earner waiting for him in the US; his new master being the loutish Donald Trump. They will of course have much in common, including an addiction to mendacity, and a complete contempt for the voting public. But Farage is history in Europe, where even the most avid Brexiteers would now like to see the back of him, and his vulgar antics, for good.

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The Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP & comedy performer

Boris will tell a one liner or one lie too many, and will once again be forced to earn his living  scribbling fiction in the Daily Telegraph, and Prime Minister Theresa May will finally have to admit defeat, and go back to the drawing board. A cosmetic solution to Brexit will be found sometime after March  of this year, a great deal of allaballa will ensue, and everyone will have to accept the consequences. And me? Well, my ‘New Years Resolution,’ is to have a good laugh at people who claim they are politically correct – and aren’t – to continue baiting frauds like Boris Johnson et all, and maybe write a new murder mystery. Now, who could the victim be?

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Happy New Year – Patrick Brigham