• New Bulgarian University - AONSU. Photo: Anton Chalakov/BHF, 2023

Yoan Leviev, mosaic in formerly, the Academy of Social Sciences and Management of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party

New Bulgarian University, Library

Dimensions: 3,60 х 8,25 m

This mosaic, currently located in the library of the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, was originally created for the then campus of the Academy of Social Sciences and Management [1] of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party. It is a large-scale depiction of a male figure pointing to a five-pointed red star surrounded by a model of the atomic structure. The composition’s themes are the pursuit of knowledge, progress, and the achievements of civilization, interpreted in an ideological context. The work represents typical use of visual formulas with specific messaging from the communist era: the sun in the upper left corner is an allegory of progress and knowledge (the human figure is holding a book); the figure stands out against the background in sculptural clarity. The contrast between light and dark areas is enhanced by the chiselled look of the garment’s folds. Leviev handles the contrast in the two parts of his composition differently: he demarcates the figure in alternating light and dark, while using a more painterly approach for the star. The background merges into the star, obscuring its outlines and the axes of the atomic model, while dynamically enhancing the sculptural impact of the figure. The work has been kept in an excellent state.

[1]    The Academy existed between 1969 and 1990.

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Yoan Leviev

Yoan Leviev
Photo: BTA

Yoan Leviev was born in 1934 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria to the family of Isaac S. Leviev and Nadejda Panaiotova-Levieva. He graduated in 1958 from the “Decorative-monumental arts” program in the National Academy of Art in Sofia (then called the “High institute for fine arts “Nikolai Pavlovich”). His graduation work under the supervision of prof. Georgi Bogdanov was titled “The Boyana master.” He was a member of the “Plovdiv group” of artists since 1959 and a member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists (UBA) since 1961. He was also an active participant in exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad. He visited Mexico in 1977 as the chosen representative of an exhibition presenting Bulgarian art, and the visit left a mark on his artistic work. The three most prominent Mexican muralists of the time – Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Siqueiros – were among his aesthetic inspirations. His personal acquaintance with artists like Jorge González Camarena, Rufino Tamayo and José Chávez Morado further increased his interest in monumental art forms. The artist died in 1994 in his home in Plovdiv. His works span from paintings, graphics, and illustrations to monumental art. He used various techniques such as fresco and secco wall painting, sgraffito, and mosaic.

His most famous monumental works are:

  • the sgraffito panels on the façade of the funeral house in Plovdiv (1959);
  • the wall painting in the boardroom of the “Maritsa” hotel (Plovdiv, 1969);
  • the wall painting “Excerpt from the economic history of Plovdiv” (Plovdiv, 1966);
  • the wall painting “Man and Earth” in the “Agricultural University – Plovdiv” (back then the High Institute of Agriculture “Vassil Kolarov”, 1967);
  • the smalt and stone mosaic “Fights and ideals of the communist party” (“Moments from the resistance and the future development of socialism”) on the façade of the former communist party building (Plovdiv, 1969);
  • the stone mosaic panel (2.30 x 6.30 m) “Yuri Gagarin” from the roundabout at the Plovdiv International Fair (Plovdiv, 1970-1971);
  • the wall painting “Vazov and his works” at the National Library (Plovdiv, 1974);
  • the smalt and stone mosaic in the Youth center in Burgas, in collaboration with Hristo Stefanov and Georgi Bozhilov – Slona (Burgas, 1975);
  • the smalt and stone mosaic in the Boyana residence (Sofia, 1976);
  • the casein and acrylic wall painting in the Grand Hotel Plovdiv (Plovdiv, 1978);
  • the wall painting “Culture and the Working classes” in the building of the “Labor-union of culture” (Plovdiv, 1977);
  • the wall painting “Man and Peace” in hall №8 in the National Palace of Culture, in collaboration with architect Alexander Barov; casein and acrylic (Sofia, 1981);
  • the smalt and gold mosaic (600 sq. m.) “The fights and victory of the communist party” in the assembly hall at the Memorial House of the Bulgarian Communist Party at Buzludzha, in collaboration with architect Hristo Stefanov (Buzludzha, 1981);
  • the smalt mosaic in the conference hall at the Ministry of Interior (Sofia, 1983);
  • the wall painting in the administrative building of the Plovdiv International Fair (Plovdiv, 1987).

Yoan Leviev received the following honorary titles and awards: induction into the Order “Saint Cyril and Methodius” – first-class (1970); the title Honored Artist (1975); the award for decorative monumental arts “Ilia Petrov” (1983); induction into the Order of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria – second-class (1984); the “1300 years Bulgaria” – honorary insignia and medal (1984); the honorary insignia of the city of Plovdiv – first-class (1984); the painting award “Vladimir Dimitrov – Maistora” from the UBA (1984); and the title Honorary Citizen of Plovdiv (1995).