Student years. The Art Academy in Sofia

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Student years. The Art Academy in Sofia

In 1954, Viktor Todorov applied to the Art Academy in Sofia, majoring in Sculpture. He was accepted in Lyubomir Dalchev’s class, ranked first after the exams. Thus, after many years of hard work and destitution, his dream had come true. At the time, my grandfather was in prison and my grandmother was working shifts at the weaving factory. The post-war years were extremely difficult not only for our family. Society was torn apart by major political and economic changes, and the geopolitical situation in the world was extremely dynamic.

At the Academy, in the monumental sculpture studio of professor Lyubomir Dalchev, Viktor Todorov had the opportunity to precisely study the laws of monumental sculpture. My father remembers: “At the Academy, I was in the monumental sculpture studio of professor Lubomir Dalchev. From my highschool teacher Ivan Topalov I learned the laws of volume and the internal construction of plastic art forms, and from professor Dalchev – the laws of monumental sculpture.” – Stanev, Stefan. Revelations in prose. Plovdiv, Timkompakt, 1998, p.64

Viktor Todorov’s fellow students at that time were many of the famous names of contemporary Bulgarian art. Viktor worked alongside Galin Malakchiev and Krum Damyanov – the three of them were favorites of Professor Lyubomir Dalchev. Hristo Yavashev (Christo) was also among the students in the Art Academy at that time. Petar Dramov, also a student at that time, remembers Christo: “The level of his sketches and educational productions was above the level of academic requirements.” Dimitar Kirov, another great artist, at that time also in the Academy, jokingly called Yavashev “grocer” – because he used paper from the grocery store for drawing. Among the sculpture students at that time were Leonid Mitsev, Saby Sabev and others.

The constellation of great teachers and professors at that time in the Art Academy is stunning: Iliya Petrov, Iliya Beshkov, Dechko Uzunov, Marko Markov, Ivan Funev, Nenko Balkanski, Georgi Bogdanov, Boyan Petrov, Panayot Panayotov. Art history lectures were also conducted by Nikolay Raynov. The level of education was extremely high and the professors did their best. The achievements of Lyubomir Dalchev’s sculpture studio and Iliya Beshkov’s graphics studio at the Academy were considered as one of the best.

1956 was a turning point for political and cultural life in the country. The April Plenum was held, at which the cult of personality was denied and new guidelines were given in culture and art. Social realism is brought to the fore. Even authors from the old generation, such as Iliya Petrov and Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master, were often accused of formalism. Regardless of these facts, the state began to subsidize and support culture. Art academies admitted, trained and graduated a huge number of students.

However, the economic conditions and standard of living of the students at that time were not flourishing. Many students lived in dormitories, Viktor was also one of them. The last pennies were collected to pay a model for the so-called “evening acts” – the Academy provided premises, but after the classes were over models were paid. Unfortunately, due to lack of income and difficult years, my father got sick from tuberculosis and had to be operated on. His recovery was difficult and slow.

“I remember the doctors told him to eat fatty foods every day to recover because he had a cavernous lung and he would get up at night to do it with great reluctance. He was so thin and skinny that you could never have imagined that one day he would be the big and vigorous sculptor he became later.”

interview with Petar Dramov, January 2023

In 1960, Viktor Todorov graduated from the Academy of Arts in Sofia. The subject of his thesis was the sculpture “Motherhood” – for which he received an excellent grade and praise. The sculpture itself was originally located in the branch of the Plovdiv City Art Gallery in the village of Sadovo, now the city of Sadovo. We made an official inquiry, but unfortunately we never found the “Motherhood” sculpture.

Upon graduation, my father finished his studies in Sofia and returned to Plovdiv, where he began his creative activity and family life.