Group exhibition of XXL authors
The 18+ exhibition presents works by authors from the XXL group, created in 1994. In addition to the founders - Svilen Stefanov, Gennady Gatev, Huben Cherkelov, Georgi Tushev, Kosyo Minchev, Ivan Kyuranov, RASSIM®, and Petko Durmana, authors who have been involved in its activities over the years - Rosen Toshev, Dimitar Yaranov, Georgi Ruzhev, Boris Serginov and Krasimir Dobrev.
The exhibition presents works that have a sharp social content and are extremely provocative. Art is one of the most powerful vehicles for social response. In recent years, we are in a situation of epidemics, military conflicts, natural disasters and an increasing devaluation of human values at all levels. The authors of the XHL group cannot remain indifferent to everything that is happening, and their reaction to reality is their provocative and scandalous works. They have always been bold, extravagant and cosmopolitan, absolutely unfazed by guild displays of propriety. There is no fear of public opinion in their works, on the contrary – they provoke and brutally ask questions. Because the lack of a position in art sometimes shows cowardice.
The idea for this exhibition was born after Group XXL's guest exhibition at the National Gallery of the Republic of North Macedonia, when the restrictive inscription 18 + appeared in front of the exhibition. Perhaps because ironically, but also quite seriously, questions of a social, moral and even political nature were raised. Because the 18+ restriction reveals different meanings and poses questions whose answers are not unambiguous. But certainly the hatred of the Russian military aggressor in this exhibition was frank, shocking, unexpected and largely politically inconvenient.
Each of the authors has a successful artistic career. Some work abroad, others combine creativity with academic work, others perform independently in Bulgaria. Their works can be found in prestigious museums and private collections.
Even as students, they enter the public space radically and unceremoniously. The first manifesto of the group "Kick in the Back of Inertia" was written and published at the beginning of 1995 in "Kultura", and later with additions it also appeared on the pages of "Literaturen Vestnik". The name XXL is also associated with the metropolitan gallery that existed between 1996 and 2003 on Macedonia Square.
The names of some of the most popular exhibitions of the XXL circle sound like: "New Bulgarian Painting" (1996), "Kosyo, Huben, Tushev" (1997), "Dimensions of Violence" (1998), "Gangstart" (1998), "The Bulgarian Landscape as a Metaphor" (2001) and "New Radical Practices" (from 1997 to 2001). Gallery XXL was closed in 2003 by the regional governor of Sofia after an exhibition in the gallery under the name "AntiSax (New Political Art)". In 2017, the National Gallery presented the exhibition "XXL Group. Past and Present of a Countercultural Narrative", exploring the ХXL phenomenon and its influence on the Bulgarian artistic context in recent decades.
Text and curator: Suzana Nikolova
Photography by: Ivan Chehlarov