Skip to main content

Strange Coincidences

Up to last year, I hadn't really thought about Bulgaria much at all -- ever, in my life, really. I knew something about its history, but only a few superficial things, and nothing about its culture or its people. Then, while pondering a Meditation on Art concerning Christo, I vaguely recalled that the great man had spent his formative years in Bulgaria. A little research led me to a blog post about Christo (link here).

Then the coincidences started to occur. Over the summer, it turned out that an artist I found on Facebook spends part of the year in Bulgaria (his native country), and the rest of the time in Chicago, where I now live. So I interviewed him about his own art and his relation to his natal country (link here).

Next coincidence: during his recent summer stay in eastern Europe, Konstantin ran into Christo's brother at a gallery. They posed for a photograph together in a gallery that Konstantin helps run in V. Tarnovo, an ancient town that was once the capital of Bulgaria:

From left: Stefan Christo; Konstantin Ray
And last night, as I was reading Turgenev's "On the Eve", I came across this description of a Bulgarian character, Insarov:
He has one idea: the liberation of his country. His life, too, has been unusual. His father was quite a wealthy merchant in Tirnovo. Tirnovo is now a small town, but in former days it was the capital of Bulgaria, when Bulgaria was still an independent kingdom.
Until talking to Konstantin, I had never heard of Tirnovo/Tarnovo, either. What does this all mean? Probably nothing much, except that the longer one lives and the more one thinks about the world, various strands of it become knitted together in surprising ways.

 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On my 300th blog post

Crikey!

It's my 300th blog post. And I seem to remember that in my 200th blog post I said that I would start quoting from John Ruskin's "Praeterita", after which this blog was named. Well, better late then never, so quotation number 2 is below.

First, though, some thoughts on this blog and blogging in general. I started Praeterita at the end of last year after reading a book by an art-marketing guru called Alyson Stansfield that recommended it as a means for artists to publicise their work better. But from the start I thought it would be more interesting to talk in a discursive way about my wider interest in art, and artists, and the history of art. After a desultory beginning where I only posted once a week, my blogging habit has now grown to the point where I am posting sometimes twice a day, and more than 45 times per month (helped enormously by the Blogger feature that lets you save blog posts with a post-dated timestamp, so that you can put posts in the bank to …

My worst open studio

Most open studios are notable for nothing really happening. You sit there waiting for people to come into your studio, eat all your nibbles and guzzle the free drink, and then leave after a cursory glance at your work. Usually, the worst thing that happens is that you get stuck in a boring conversation with a dull person,

But there was one time a few years ago when I got into one of these conversations, and quite quickly the person I was talking to started to make homophobic remarks about another artist in the building. After a few minutes, I decided I'd had enough and asked him to leave. He seemed genuinely surprised that I had any objection to what he was saying, which in retrospect makes me even angrier if he thought he had a sympathetic ear.

He asked me why, and I told him I didn't like people talking that way, and I said: "This conversation ended 30 seconds ago." So he left.

So, nothing dramatic like Jackson Pollock getting drunk in a fancy New York apartment a…

Van Gogh on Degas

From a letter dated July 31, 1888:
“Why do you say Degas can’t get it up properly? Degas lives like some petty lawyer and doesn’t like women, knowing very well that if he did like them and bedded them frequently, he’d go to seed and be in no position to paint any longer. The very reason why Degas’s painting is virile and impersonal is that he has resigned himself to being nothing more than a petty lawyer with a horror of kicking over the traces. He observes human animals who are stronger than him screwing and f—ing away and he paints them so well for the very reason that he isn’t all that keen on it himself.”
Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader