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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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