The eighties of the 20th century

By In 80s, Biography

The eighties of the 20th century

These were turning years both for the state and for the artists and in particular for the fine arts. The political scene reproduced new criteria, views and orientations, especially in the monumental arts. The power of the Party and ideological orientation is still unequivocal, and the monumental arts have a significant contribution to the layout of the urban environment and the so-called synthesis with architecture. A typical example is the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, where one can see an exaggerated desire for pomp, luxury, dominance of sculptures, reliefs, mosaic panels, wood carving and metalwork. Another exponent of this aspiration is the Buzludzha monument, where tons of expensive enamel were put into the realization of the mosaic compositions. Monumental realizations in the field of sculpture are essential. Colossal budgets have been allocated, many in number. Towards the end of the period, however, commissions and commitments for monumental works declined rapidly.

“When I graduated from the Art Academy in Sofia and came to Plovdiv, I found Viktor Todorov and Ivan Topalov as leading sculptors there. Viktor Todorov had already done a lot of things in Plovdiv and I was actually familiar with his work. For example, one of the works is the relief of Tsanko Lavrenov, above, on Hisar Kapia in the Old Town. In fact, they – Ivan Topalov and Viktor Todorov are one of the founders of Plovdiv sculpture. Viktor Todorov was one of the teachers for my generation. At that time, for each architectural project, a minimum of 2% of the planned funds were provided for the implementation of monumental forms for the future buildings – sculptures, reliefs, plasters, murals. In this way, the authors then had the opportunity to develop the very forms and directions in the monumental arts and achieve the so-called “Synthesis” between architecture and the arts.”

interview with Tsviatko Syromashki, sculptor, January 2023.

In the period after Morocco, 1981-84, Viktor Todorov worked for the famous Plovdiv perfume and cosmetics factory “Alen Mak”. His activity is related to the copyright of the packaging, their adequate aesthetic value, and quality control during the creation of the brands. Along with solving these current problems with a swing, he decorates the environment in the enterprise and exhibits in the corridors painting, plastic and sculpture works. Viktor also worked for some time as a designer in “Balkanturist”, “Advertising” department. Since 1984, he has been a part-time teacher at the “Tsanko Lavrenov” art high school in the city of Plovdiv.

Order “Cyril and Methodius” 1st degree, 1985

In 1985, Viktor Todorov was awarded the Order of Cyril and Methodius, 1st degree. At the time of the People’s Republic Bulgaria, this order was the seventh in seniority out of a total of seventeen orders and in three degrees, the first being the highest. The order is awarded “for activity in the field of science, education and culture and for great merits for the education of the Bulgarian people” and at that time was the highest distinction in the system of culture.

In our time, in the Republic of Bulgaria, such merits are awarded with the Order of St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, who is the recipient of the Order of “St. St. equal apostles Cyril and Methodius” from the time of the tsar and of the order in question “Cyril and Methodius”. In 1991, by decree of the VII Great National Assembly, all honors from the award system of the regime during the PRB were abolished, with the exception of the Stara Planina, Madarski Konnik and Order of the Rose orders.

The atelier in Plovdiv.

Viкtor Todorov had a second studio, on the basement level in a block of flats, which is located on “General Danail Nikolaev” street in Plovdiv. There he created mainly paintings, the main subject of which is the landscape. Almost all works from this period are in private collections.

My father did not use the studio in Plovdiv only for his own needs, but turned it into a center for the development of young talents. Art enthusiasts gathered in the studio and used the premises to prepare and apply to the Art Academy. In one room a sketch of a head and body was painted, and in the other a sculpture was worked on. All this was done under the supervision and with the consent of my father, but also for free. His trainers covered only the costs of the models, Viktor did not charge any money for the consultations and gave the opportunity to anyone who really had a positive attitude towards art to work. In this way, he naturally repeated the benevolence of his teacher Ivan Topalov.

In these groups of young people, then, we find the names of many artists already established today – the sculptors Ivan Totev, Krasimir Angelov, Milena and Georgi Bochukovi, Chavdar Parov. The late painter Rumen Zhekov, who was also in this group and with whom we were classmates and roommates at the high school in Kazanlak, used to say: “If it wasn’t for your father, I would never have applied for painting at the Art Academy and been accepted.” He was the first to notice some potential in me and encouraged me to try my hand at painting. Because by then I applied for design, which I had also graduated from the Kazanlak high school.”

Ivan Totev, sculptor, remembers: “Before I studied at the Art Academy, I was a student of Viktor Todorov, and he turned me on to sculpture. He didn’t even take money for his lessons. I have money, he said, I don’t want money, I want to teach you something. He was also one of the best portrait painters.” – Stanev, Stefan. Names from the city of the artists 3. Plovdiv, Stovi, 2014, p.35