Sirak Skitnik

Born under the name Panayot Todorov Hristov, in the poor family of a textile worker. Part of his personal qualities he owes to his father - curious and talkative. In his teenage years, he is forced to start travelling the world for social reasons.
One day - he tells in his memoir - my father, who often was left with no money, gave me 40 leva, saying: “Son, this is all I can give you. See where and how you will be earning your living”. In 1898 he enrolls at the Seminary in Sofia and during those 4 years he establishes his connections to the literary circles there. Here is his story about how his nickname came to be: One summer day at the Troyan Monastery I sat down to rest under a centennial oak. I started playing in the sand in front of me with the stick I was holding. I was sad and I felt the loneliness and plight of my youth. Who knows why, I wrote about myself the word “orphan” (Sirak) and suddenly I added to it “wanderer” (Skitnik). And that’s how my nickname was born.
In 1903 he graduates the Seminary and begins to teach. 1908 is a turning point in his life. Using the money he managed to save while teaching, he leaves for Saint Petersburg to study painting and remains there until 1912. His stay there has a major impact on his beliefs and his overall evolution as an artist. The famous artist Mikhail Vrubel is impressed with the outstanding education in philosophy and classical languages of the young Bulgarian. He introduces him to the elusive circles of Petersburg. He is admitted into one of the most respected circles "Мир исскуства". He exhibits his paintings alongside the avantgarde artists, among which – Marc Chagall. He paints theatrical decors and posters in order to support himself. He publishes poems in the well-respected magazine “Apolon” where Chechov, Gorki and Blok publish their works as well. His canvases from this period are filled with the ghostly visions of the “white nights” He returns to Bulgaria and participates in the Balkan War, the Second Balkan War, and World War I. He receives a bravery medal and several shrapnels in his chest, as a result of which he suffers from chest constriction for the rest of his life.

In the years after the war Sirak Skitnik strives to bring to Bulgaria that innovative spirit that he saw during his encounter with the colossal names in the art world of the 20th century Saint Petersburg. He comes to lead the spiritual elite of Sofia. In 1919, along with Nikolay Raynov and Ivan Milev, they create the movement “Homeland Art” the goal of which is to unite our fine art with the expressive splendor of old Bulgarian icons, miniatures, frescos, textiles and ornaments, myths and legends. That way the Bulgarian and the European, the national and the unique, the traditional and the contemporary, the folk and the individual merge. As a result of being so socially active, and the prestige he achieved, the artist and critic Sirak Skitnik was chosen by the guild as the first ever chair of the Common Union of Artist, which later becomes the Union of Bulgarian Artists.

  • „Пещера“

    Oil on cardboard

    61 сm - 91 сm 

    Landscape with natural objects from a cave in symbolic style


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