Art and public space: projects for the monumental-decorative painting of Plovdiv artists from the collections of the Plovdiv National Library

We present the collection "Works of Monumental and Decorative Arts in Synthesis with Architecture" through the realization of a bilingual album, a traveling exhibition, and a website with four city author's routes.

The collection covers the period 1961–1983. The authors of the projects are Ioan Leviev (31), Anastasiya Kmetova (24), Dimitar Kirov (23) and Encho Pironkov (17). Co-authors are Ana Grebenarova, Kolyu Vitkovski, Sabi Sabev, Georgi Boyadzhiev. The geography of the works is significant and speaks convincingly about the influence of the Plovdiv group of monumentalists in the Bulgarian artistic life. There are 55 sites in Plovdiv, 11 in the Plovdiv region (in the cities of Hissar, Parvomay, Karlovo, Banya, Stamboliyski, Sadovo), and 22 more across the country (in Sofia, Burgas, Shumen, Silistra, Kozloduy, Blagoevgrad, Botevgrad, Yambol, Sliven, Chirpan, Devin, House-monument peak "Bratan" - Sredna Gora, Monument - peak Buzludzha, etc.). According to preliminary information 14 in the city of Plovdiv no longer exist, are in serious condition or have been compromised due to inadequate care.

Monumental painting as a form of artistic activity was present in Bulgarian fine arts from the second half of the XX century. After 1990 its status as an official art began to decline and institutional maintenance disappeared. Due to its axiomatic connection with an abandoned political system, and hence with state-party power, the works of wall-monumental art still remain on the periphery of public attention.

Taking into account its inherent connection with the historical landscape, we focus on the aesthetic and sociological existence of the monumental and decorative art in our city today. This 30-year-old distance allows for a calm view of this heritage. Many of the buildings with monumental decoration in Plovdiv no longer exist, others are collapsing, others have changed their functions, others deliberately neglect the samples of monumental and decorative arts and even erase traces of them. With such an approach the murals cease to live in a real environment. But it remains possible to preserve, show and study them as part of the polemical and diverse history of Bulgarian art.

Public space is a matrix of urban memory because the city is a living organism connecting living people with their daily needs and dreams. Design of the urban environment should serve as a single integrative tool through which various public spaces are coordinated into ensembles. The design must guarantee sustainability over time - a combination of historical continuity and development. This requires a manifestation of sensitivity to the already built environment and its historical value as well as to inherited decorative and architectural solutions. By ensuring cultural continuity in terms of the visual environment today's physical city can corresponds to an authentic history thus encouraging people to be more committed to their city, to participate by associating in its life. The current samples of decorative and monumental arts from the recent past can be a bridge between generations living in different aesthetic and visual contexts from the recent past and today.

The project of the National Library "Ivan Vazov" is part of the Legacy programme of Plovdiv - European Capital of Culture 2019.

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