CONNECTIONS – Exhibition by Milen Radev

3 – 21 April 2024

Curator: Nikola Mihov

3 April, 17:00 – 21:00 h.: Opening at Little Bird Place and the yard of suggestopedia house ‘7 Кeys’, located across from the gallery

6 April: Open doors of Little Bird Artist residency in the village of Leshten with Milen Radev 

21 April, 16:00 – 19:00 h.: Finissage and meeting-conversation with Milen Radev

See all works from the exhibition HERE!

In the exhibition “Connections”, created especially for Little Bird Place gallery, Milen Radev presents his sculptural objects made of ‘tiklas’*, which he calls ‘gabritsi’. In the spirit of land art, the artist creates sculptures from raw materials and places them in a natural environment, where they are being altered or destroyed by natural forces. Apart from the forests of the Rhodope Mountains near the village of Gabritsa, where their name comes from, we can also find them in his black and white silver gelatin prints. They are presented in the exhibition together with site-specific sculptural stone objects, some of which will be located also in the courtyard of suggestopedia house ‘7 Кeys’, located across from the gallery.


The story begins about ten years ago, when Milen returns to the roots of his family in the village of Gabritsa. There he started living first temporarily, and then permanently, in the century-old house of his great-grandfather, giving it a new life. For him, the tiklas on the roofs of the old houses are an imprint of time, a keeper of secrets and memories. Left to crumble, they once provided shelter to the villagers who used to build their homes together. Milen collects tiklas from the collapsed houses that have been extracted from the surrounding hills and returns them back to nature in the form of sculptures. The silhouette of his ‘gabritsi’ is predetermined by the natural shapes formed by the separation of the shale rock, rather than by the classical methods of sculpting by removal or modeling.


‘When you discover a rockfall*, its power stays connected to you, and the sheer variety of geometric shapes created by nature over millions of years leaves the imagination wanting for more. Tikla is like a stone turned into a sheet of paper, from which you can create a feeling of lightness. It will always look for different forms, especially when it comes in contact with another of its kind. The force of the earth’s gravity and the mass of the material do not allow the tikla to remain in the air, but that does not mean that it cannot fly. I always see it in flight. It is not so hard to succeed in creating a connection between the stone and the rest of the natural elements, because they have never been separated,’ says Milen Radev.


Connections are all around us. We create connections with the places we live in, with the past, with our memories and fears. Milen transforms the connection with his environment, with his ideas and imagination in stone sculptures. Connections keepers.


On the occasion of the exhibition, Milen Radev spent a few days at the artist residency of Little Bird in the village of Leshten, where he created ‘gabritsi’ from tiklas found in the area. On 6 April, during the open house of the residency, Milen will show us the rockfalls in the vicinity of Leshten and will talk about his creative process.


* Tikla is a thin stone slab with a layered structure, used for building roofs. Another meaning of the word is a bare stony place or rocky area.


** Rockfall or ‘stureno’ in local Rhodope dialect is a place from which tiklas can be extracted, created by the formation of faults or sudden collapse of large rock masses.


About the artist:

Milen Radev is a photographer, artist and designer, born in 1982 in Sofia. Since 2013, he has been living and working in the Rhodope village of Gabritsa. He is the author of solo exhibitions and installations, including: Art of Living, Water Tower (2009), Stereoscopy, The Fridge (2009) and 500 Copies, Gallery Lastici (2014). His photoshoots have been published in magazines such as One, Vice, Eva, Gia and Playboy. In 2022, he participated in the exhibition ‘Overview of Bulgarian Design – Local Beauty’, part of the Melba Design Festival, with his project Tikla, for which he created a line of products made of stone, wood and metal.


The project is implemented in partnership with “7 Кeys – Suggestopedia House” and with the financial support of the National Fund “Culture” under the program “Creating”.

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