• Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation.


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Pravdoliub Ivanov

The works of Pravdoliub Ivanov revolve around phenomena of spatiality in which norms are disrupted and trompe l’œil effects are inserted into an everyday visual vocabulary. By intermingling public and private moments, the artist transfers private matters into the realm of the gallery or art space, tying in specific architectural tropes as he does so. Ivanov plays with irritating elements: he uses ironic gestures taken from mundane and incidental everyday situations to evoke a heightened awareness for routine encounters that might otherwise often go unnoticed. The juxtaposition of unusual objects and materials forms the basis for Ivanov’s installations, which generally tend to produce uncanny moments for their viewers. In keeping with the Freudian concept of the uncanny, these are phenomena that seem familiar and foreign at the same time. Whoever experiences such situations feels uncomfortable and has to ask him or herself just where these strange feelings are coming from. Freud viewed such impulses as repressed feelings deriving from the id and forced upon us by the superego as a manifestation of the symbolic fear of castration or punishment as a consequence of neglecting traditional social norms. The paradoxical nature of being both attracted to and alienated from Ivanov’s art objects and installations gives rise to a state of cognitive dissonance; this makes it difficult to perceive his works of art as rational manifestations within space. His uncanny constructions of reality arouse the viewer’s desire for a detailed perception of our various everyday environments, which are usually given short shrift as we pass by all too quickly. Ivanov presses the “Pause” button on various everyday phenomena and creates ironic links of belonging, for instance patching up cheese holes with band aids or cutting a carpet in a shape such as results from a stone hitting a window pane. Such prank-like interventions in both public and private spaces characterize Ivanov’s artistic working method, which he has been applying in many different contexts for nearly two decades. 



Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 1964.

Ivanov graduated from the National Academy for Fine Arts in Sofia (Bulgaria) in 1993, where he is also assistant professor since 1996. His numerous residencies include “ArtsLink, Fellowship, Longwood Arts Project” (New York City, USA, 1998), “Cité Internationale des Arts” (Paris, France, 2000), and “Artist to Artist” (Newcastle, England, Visiting Arts, Henry Moore Foundation, 2007).

Lives and works in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2011 “Półprawda / Half-Truth”, Le Guern Gallery, Warsaw, Poland

2010 “Works, Non-Works and Illusions”, Sariev Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

2008 “Thoughts Within Thoughts” (dual show with Alec Finlay), ARC Projects, Sofia, Bulgaria

2007 “Double Trouble” (dual show with Valio Chenkov), Steinle Gallery, Munich, Germany

2003 “Existing Objects”, ATA Center / Institute of Contemporary Art-Sofia, Sofia, Bulgaria      

2002 “Pessimism No More”, Musée des Beaux Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012 “Why Duchamp? From object to museum and back (125 years)”, Sofia Arsenal Museum for Contemporary Art, Sofia, Bulgaria

2011 “Monumental Privacy”, Royal Gallery, Munich, Germany

2010 “Suspended Spaces – depuis Famagusta”, La Maison de la Culture d’Amiens, Amiens, France

2009 “Techniques”, ICA Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria

2008 “No Place – like Home. Perspectives on Migration in Europe”, ARGOS Centre for art and media, Brussels, Belgium

2007 “A Place You Have Never Been Before”, Bulgarian Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

2006 “Neither a White Cube, nor a Black Box. History in Present Tense”, Sofia Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria

2005 “Sous les ponts, le long de la rivière-2”, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg

2004 “Flipside”, Artists Space Gallery, New York City, USA

2003 "Blut & Honig, Zukunft ist am Balkan“, Essl Museum, Vienna, Austria

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


BULGARIA: a Place you Have Never Been Before. 2007. Curated by Vessela Nozharova. Sofia: St. Cyril and St. Methodius International Foundation [Exhib. Cat., Bulgarian participation at the 52nd International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia (Jun. 10-Nov. 21, 2007)]
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