First years as an artist and family life in Plovdiv.

By In 60s, Biography

First years as an artist and family life in Plovdiv.

In Plovdiv, Viktor Todorov was invited as a young specialist – sculptor to work for the City People’s Council, located in the building on “Knyaz Bogoridi” street.

“Sometime in October, Viktor Todorov came to my room to work for the “Architecture and Public Improvement” department. At that time, there was already discussion on the aestheticization of the urban environment. At that time, the chief architect of Plovdiv was Karliev. We were placed in a room on the fourth floor. My first impression of Viкtor was that he was very expansive and that he was not used to staying in one place; he has not done administrative work and feels out of place in an office.

I will tell you a curious case. It was time to get our salaries, I went to the cashier-host and when I came back I said: “Viktor, you have to get your salary.” He seemed unresponsive. After a day or two, I went to the cashier-host on other work matters and he told me: “Tell your new colleague to come and get his salary, because I can’t finish my payroll!”. When I came back, I said to Viktor: “Go and get your salary!”. “Oh, the fee?” he replied. Another day or two passed and the cashier-host flew into the room screaming: “Viktor! Тhey only hire you who do nothing. When will you come to get your salary?!” Viкtor answered calmly: “Ah, the fee? I’m waiting to get it in the mail.”

Here I want to point out that on the same floor where we worked, there was the urban planning studio, whose chief was architect Bakardjiev. Antoineta Topalova (daughter of Viktor’s high school teacher – Ivan Topalov) worked with him as a young architect. Often the three of us talked to each other: “I am the youngest architect of the republic, Viktor – the youngest sculptor of the republic, and I, Kiril Hristozov – the youngest engineer of the republic.” That’s how our teamwork with Viktor Todorov began.

Another interesting thing that I remember is that Viktor Todorov made neon figures and inscriptions for Sport-Toto in a bezisten on Main Street in Plovdiv. He designed them and they were produced in some workshop. At that time, the technology and fashion of neon signs was just entering.

Viktor also worked on the aestheticization of the urban environment. There was a special commission that assessed the necessary interventions for the Central part of the city and the Kapana district – which buildings should be repaired, which should be renovated and how exactly.” – Interview with Kiril Hristozov, a colleague of Viktor Todorov, January 2023.

Family life

In 1959, Viktor Todorov married Temenuga Antonova. At that time, she was a student at MEI Sofia (Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Institute, now the Technical University). In 1960, after both newlyweds graduated, they settled in Plovdiv and lived in the Kapana district, on Konstantin Stoilov Street (at that time it was called “Stamat Matanov”).

In 1961, their first son Yavor Todorov was born. At that time, there was a so-called “allocation after graduation” and Temenuga Todorova was assigned as a mechanical engineer at the Karlovo Military Factory. This was extremely unfavorable for the young family, but thanks to Atanas Krastev (Nacho Kulturata), the young family was not divided – Nacho helped Temenuga to be appointed as a teacher at the Textile Technical College in Plovdiv.

In 1963, thanks to his work in the City Council, Viktor, Temenuga and little Yavor moved to an apartment on Praga Street. The life of the young family was filled with daily activities and work, but of course also with many gatherings between friends. Visiting friends and home parties was a common practice. The Todorov family maintained friendships with the families of Petar and Maria Grigorovi, Angel and Elena Tomovi, Yulia and Marin Topalovi. Unforgettable were the dinners, parties and games of their children Yavor, Vihra, Sonia, Rosen and many others.

The Studio / Atelier in Markovo village

In 1965, several Plovdiv artists – Viktor Todorov, Marin Topalov, Pascal Struzhev, Dimitar Kirov, Kuncho Chotov, Ivan Topalov – were given the opportunity to get places to build creative studios/ateliers.

“Ivan Topalov made the first contacts and took actions to provide land for artists’ studios in the village of Markovo, and all those who are now there – Marin Topalov, Viktor Todorov, Pascal Struzhev, myself and others, owe it to him, to his efforts and care for colleagues. He never thought only of himself. He thought more about how to help his colleagues. I remember that he and I also went to the village of Izvor to make arrangements for artists’ places there, but then, because of the landslides, we gave up this opportunity.” – Tsanev, Stefan. Names from the city of the artists. Sofia, Nova Timkompakt, 1999

The studios of Ivan Topalov and Viktor Todorov were built on two adjacent plots in the village of Markovo. Thus, teacher and student remained together and shared their destinies as one of the most active Plovdiv sculptors of our time. The size, designq square meters and orientation of the premises are fulfilled according to all the norms, standards and requirements for the realization of a monumental sculpture – a height of about 5 meters and light (windows) coming only from the north. In this way, flares and strong contrast are isolated, and the author is independent of changes in sunlight – the possibility of maximum working time in daylight is obtained. The requirements for painting studios are similar. Nearby were the studios of painters Marin Topalov and Pascal Struzhev, as well as the studio of the sculptor Kuncho Chotov.

In this space of 5 studios, a small artistic community for creativity and inspiration was formed, whose fame is carried to this day.

Alongside with the busy schedule and endless orders for monumental sculptures, reliefs and their realization, committee members came to Viкtor Todorov’s studio for approval of conceptual and current stages of monumental projects and situational solutions. Monumental sculpture must necessarily be tied to architectural solutions, documentation and construction specialists who work in a team with the sculptor from the beginning of the assignment of the project to its opening. Huge volume and amount of work. It is a requirement to have a model of the situational solution on a certain scale. These models were made by model makers who had a guild and gravitated towards the architects of the time. My father worked with architect Bubi Stoykov – one of the most notable at that time; also with architects Velcho Velchev, Hristo Bakardjiev, Petyo Belev, Ivo Kovachev and others.

I remember that when a committee had to come to approve a given project, the street in front of us used to be blackened by the mandatory black Volga of the first of the day: Kocho Gyaurov, Draja Valcheva, Diran Parikyan and many others – party members, mayors, secretaries, chairmеn of various institutions. At that time I was very young, and my father was pushing me to get to know them, which was very disturbing for me. At the same time, my mother, grandmother and aunt were “called in” to help the event. They could not manage to serve plate after plate filled with filets, sausages and all kinds of appetizers. I had the duty to serve Coca-Cola, which was in short supply in those years, but my father pulled dozens of boxes from somewhere. My grandmother and my aunt complained more than once: “It’s all over! We couldn’t drink a single Coke.”