The Shared Art of the Balkans—at The Mission

The artworks created during the Fourth ‘River of Tolerance’ International Youth Art Festival, organised by NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ under the auspices of UNESCO

The photographs and graphics created by participants in the ‘River of Tolerance’ International Youth Art Festival can be seen at The Mission Gallery of the State Institute for Culture at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 13 May 2022.


‘The Shared Art of the Balkans—Traditions and Contemporaneity’ exhibition celebrates UNESCO’s 75th anniversary, and 40 years since the founding of the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund. The former organisation is a patron of the festival, while the latter has already successfully held the event four times. The date for the opening was also not hit upon by chance—on the eve of 15 April, declared by UNESCO as World Art Day.


Guests included Deputy Minister of Culture Vessela Kondakova; Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Tatiana Kazandjieva; Director of the Diplomatic Institute Tanya Mihaylova; diplomats, directors of cultural institutions, professors and students from the National Academy of Arts.


The exhibition features works by 25 artists from: the National Academy of Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria; the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; the National University of Arts, Bucharest, Romania; and the University of Art, Belgrade, Serbia. The works, created specifically for the ‘River of Tolerance’ and donated by the artists to the NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’, were compiled in a bilingual catalogue dedicated to the youth art festival’s fourth edition. It was different this year, because the pandemic situation required it to be held online: students and lecturers from Balkan countries exchanged energies, ideas and skills in a dedicated virtual domain on the Fund’s website.


‘The Shared Art of the Balkans—Traditions and Contemporaneity’ exhibition was opened by the Director of the State Institute for Culture of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Snezhana Yoveva-Dimitrova, who, before the representatives of various ministries and diplomatic missions, stated: ‘This is an exhibition illustrating how art may be the real answer to the role of tolerance and freedom of expression in the creative spirit. The diversity of the exhibition shows the talent of young artists from the Balkan countries and their desire for sharing. We believe that ‘The Shared Art of the Balkans—Traditions and Contemporaneity’ exhibition will visit other stages abroad to contribute to the mutual sharing of art in the Balkans.’


On behalf of Vice President Iliana Yotova, a member of her team, Milena Dimitrova, read out a congratulatory address: ‘Tonight, the exhibition brings together young and established artists, students and professors from universities in the visual arts, who have created artworks to become part of the Fund’s treasury with their vision for shared values. Since its establishment 40 years ago, NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ has maintained a strong connection between Bulgarians around the world and at home, not only in the field of painting, but in science, literature, music, and cultural heritage.’


Dr Mila Stareishinska-Angelova said on behalf of the Fund: ‘River of Tolerance’ is a key project for us because it brings together non-formal educational teams of students and professors from Balkan countries. We are extremely happy that the 25 participants embraced the themes of the festival: tolerance, sharing, creativity. The Mission Gallery is a strategic venue in international exchange. We have completed a number of successful partnerships with the State Cultural Institute, and I am convinced that this is only the exhibition’s first stop.’


The Institute’s Director, Snezhana Yoveva-Dimitrova, assured the attendees that the exhibition will be offered for display at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters and at Bulgarian diplomatic missions, ‘because it is the instrument that shows that art can unite’.

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