Vaska Emanuilova

1905Komshtitsa, Bulgaria | 1985Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgarian sculptor.

Vaska Emanuilova was born in the village of Komshtitsa, close to the town of Godech (near the western border of Bulgaria). Her father was an Orthodox priest. She graduated with a degree in sculpture from the State Academy of Arts in Sofia (1922-1927), where she studied with Ivan Lazarov (1889-1952). From 1927 V. Emanuilova took an active part in the country’s cultural life, taking part in the exhibitions and activities of the artistic societies. In 1931 she was one of the founders of the Society of New Artists [Družestvoto na novite hudožnici, 1931-1944], together with Stoyan Sotirov (1903-1984), Mara Georgieva (1905-1989) and others. She then moved to the Association of Independent Artists in Bulgaria. In 1939 she received a grant from the French Legation in Sofia to study in Paris, but she returned to Sofia before the occupation of Paris in June 1940.

V. Emanuilova created portraits (Portret na bašta mi [Portrait of my father [1931], Petja Krǎsteva [Pieta Krasteva, 1934], Rosica [Rositsa, 1938]), female nudes and figures of working people (Žetvarska pesen [Reaper Song, 1955], Ovčarka[Woman Shepherd, 1960], Žetvarska I [Woman Reaper I, 1965]). The Sofia City Art Gallery holds many of her sculptures and drawings. In the works of the late 1930s a homoerotic theme can be discerned: she created small-scale compositions of two female figures, which she did not show in public. Her works were mainly made in terracotta and bronze. She also made sculptures for public spaces – parks and fountains in Sofia – such as Kǎpešta se [Bathing Girl, 1960] in Park Zaimov.
In her Neoclassical female nudes dating from after 1939 we find echoes of the work of Aristide Maillol (1861-1944). The doctrine of Socialist Realism influenced her work after 1946, in terms of both subject matter and iconography, and in 1954 she participated in the collective sculpture for the Soviet Army Memorial in Sofia, after her team won the state commission for this (then prestigious) monument.

She was a member of the Society of Women Artists in Bulgaria and participated in the first Bulgarian women artists’ exhibition in Sofia, in 1928, in the exhibition of women artists from Bulgaria in Belgrade in 1937, and in other exhibitions held by the society. She participated in group exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad, including the Bulgarian section of the 24th Venice Biennale in 1948 and the First Exhibition of Socialist Countries in Moscow in 1958-1959.
On her death on July 11, 1985, V. Emanuilova had no heirs and willed her artworks to the Sofia City Art Gallery, which today manages the Vaska Emanuilova Gallery.

Irina Genova

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