Saint 02

Saint 02
2019, 80×60 cm, acrylic on canvas
+359 Gallery Collection, Sofia, Bulgaria

For many years M.R. was abused by her son who wos an alcoholic. One day while he was sleeping she killed him with a hoe. She went to prison, but after a year she was released for being seriously ill. She lived with her husband, who was also ill, with whom she had a bad relationship.Later she decided to kill him. She went to his bed and made a small incision in the carotid artery with a butter knife, than locked the door and left him bleeding to death.


Last year, it became something usual to hear about murders or violence against women. The subject has become particularly media-intensive and politically loaded with the passions around the Istanbul Convention. Between the apathy, speculation, anger, horror, and the new, yet conservative wave of protection of family values, the door to the real debate has gradually begun to open – why is this happening and how do we react as a society – as citizens, but also as human beings.
The exhibition of Iskra Blagoeva tries to open this particular door, shocking us a bit, worrying us and most of all confusing the stereotypes, with which we imperceptibly and inevitably live. For one year, the artist has been exploring the topic of the woman – murderer, looking for anchor points in psychology, mythology, poetry and religion. Documentary stories, part of the information flow, real life news give grounds for this, and the references made by the artist go far beyond. Guiding the audience through the themes of vanity and obsession with the new narcissistic culture, crime and sin, holiness, degradation and lack of remedy, confession and forgiveness, the author creates an overall installation in the space where the works complement and build on each other and ‚Äútell” about the contents of the exhibition along the vertical of the very Water Tower.
At the heart of the project stands the woman, but this exhibition is not only about women, insofar as the issue of violence therein is addressed as an act of treacherous superiority of the stronger over the weaker. Contrary to the expectations that human problems are discussed through the male image, Iskra Blagoeva has chosen to show the audience not the god-like Adam, but the sinful Eve. Are women-murderers abusers or victims; are they different from men in their role as oppressors and where to draw the line between strength and weakness, between fall and retribution? The two portraits in the exhibition relate to real women who killed in a cruel way their male partners. The artist creates images that are devoid of sentimentality or drama, who seduce with their fragility but also chill with their indifferent alienation and their pale stone faces. By putting haloes above their heads, the author provokes the audience, testing the limits of what we perceive as normal. At the same time, however, she makes a comment on the devoid of substance religiousness, which has become conservative scholasticism, insensitive to the contradictions of human life.
Without expressly highlighting that she engages in the situation in Bulgaria, Iskra Blagoeva’s exhibition comments on many of the current problems in our country, from the murders (of women) through the growing alienation and violence among people, to the devaluation of values, the lack of adequate institutions, the degradation of faith and the chaos in the orientations for the world. This is an exhibition that uses the scandalous and even the horrible to turn to the forgotten role of art to talk about human choice, ethics, saints, and sinners.
The visiting project – the film “Five Years and Five Months” by the directors Andrey Getov and Neda Sokolovska – further underlines the timeliness and the specificity of the problems that motivate the very exhibition, by telling about the problems of the women’s prison in Sliven and the degrading treatment of the women there.

Vladiya Mihaylova, Curator