• Saint Pantaleon Chapel, Photo: Anton Chalakov/BHF, 2023

Hristo Stefanov, overall decoration plan

St. Pantaleon Chapel

Patron saint mosaic, mixed media, 2 sq. m, 1998

Hristo Stefanov authored the overall decoration plan of the St. Pantaleon Chapel in 9 Tsarkovna Str., Boyana Dstr. in Sofia, as well as the patron saint mosaic and interior frescoes. The five-square-metre interior floor mosaic is by Dilyana Mazakova. Both artists completed their work on a voluntary basis.

Located in the patron niche on the facade of the homonymous chapel, the mosaic of St. Pantaleon (from Greek: all-merciful) follows the well-known iconographic scheme for depicting the healer saint: he is pictured in half-body, with his typical attributes and gesture. The figure and background are executed in gold smalt with a variety of coloured tesserae, adding dynamism to the image. Besides smalt, Hristo Stefanov used gold-leaf and a variety of pigments. The head of the saint is recreated in a painterly manner, echoing the stylе of Stefanov’s frescos. The work shows the artist’s affinity for monumental art. The combination of elements from monumental art and oil painting enhances the interaction between the work and its setting.

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Hristo Stefanov

Hristo Stefanov
Photo: BTA

Hristo Stefanov was born in 1931 in the city of Burgas, Bulgaria. His family permanently relocated to Plovdiv in 1935. He graduated in 1956 from the National Academy of Art in Sofia in the class of prof. Nenko Balkanski. He was a member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists (UBA) since 1961 and a member of the famous “Plovdiv group” of artists along with Yoan Leviev, Dimitar Kirov, Encho Pironkov and Georgi Bozhilov-Slona. He actively participated in regional, national, and international exhibitions. He became a member of the managing committee of the UBA in 1970 and since 1971 was involved in the State Committee for Fine and Applied Arts and Aarchitecture. He stayed involved in various branches of the State Committee until his death. His works include paintings, graphics, mosaics, wall paintings, stained glass windows, and scenography. Even his earliest works demonstrated his longstanding interest in monumental art, as is attested by his numerous works in a variety of different techniques – fresco, sgraffito, mosaics, glass and stained glass. He was inspired by the aesthetics and expression of form of the Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Siqueiros. He created numerous monumental works both in Bulgaria and abroad.

Among these, the following stand out:

  • the stone and ceramic mosaic sculpture (3.60 x 21 x 0.25 m) “The communist party victorious” and a decorative glass wall in the foyer of the former communist party building, in collaboration with E. Pironkov and architect Vl. Rangelov; stone and ceramic (Plovdiv, 1969);
  • the fresco (50 sq. m.) “Genius and prophet” in the Museum house “Hristo Botev” (Kalofer, 1973);
  • the wall painting “Epic of the forgotten” at National library “Ivan Vazov” (Plovdiv, 1974);
  • the fresco (25 sq. m.) “Wine and fertility of Thrace” in the restaurant “Puldin”, in collaboration with architects Z. Kirova and N. Mushanov (Plovdiv, 1976);
  • the smalt and stone mosaic “Movement” (“Leaving” and “Return” – 2 panels) in the passageway of the Central Railway Station (Sofia, 1976);
  • the smalt, metal, and stone mosaic (10 x 8 m.) “Man and the Age of Technology” (“Progress”) on the façade of the House of science and technology; smalt, metal and stone (Karlovo, 1978);
  • the fresco (11.20 x 8.40 m.) “Fire” (“Burning in creation”) in hall №7 in the National Palace of Culture, in collaboration with architect Al. Barov (Sofia, 1981);
  • the smalt and stone mosaic (48 sq. m.) “Mercury” on the façade of the Plovdiv International Fair’s central building, in collaboration with Valentin Starchev (Plovdiv, 1987);
  • the secco wall painting “The stage – life, the life – stage” in the Opera di camera (Blagoevgrad, 1987);
  • the smalt, stone, and gold “Memorial of Gotse Delchev’s family” (Blagoevgrad, 1987).

Hristo Stefanov was a scenographer for the plays of director Hristo Hristov – “The Bells of Prespa” and “The Iron Candlestick” (performed in the Plovdiv theater, 1965) – as well as for “Hamlet” (directed by Nikolai Georgiev and performed in the Varna theater, 1967) and “This Small Land” by Georgi Dzhagarov” (performed in the Plovdiv theater, 1976). He was also the production artist for the movies “Iconostasis” (1969) and “Anvil or hammer” (1973).

He received the following honorary titles and awards: the honorary title People’s Artist (1985); induction into the Order of “Saints Cyril and Methodius” – first-class (2002) and the Order “Stara planina” (2002).