• Faculty of Physics of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

Faculty of Physics of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

Faculty of Physics of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

There are several mosaic panels in the building of Sofia University’s Department of physics, which were co-designed by artists Rujko Chelebiev and Toma Varbanov. The panels were created in the transition years after the fall of the socialist regime and bear the characteristics of monumental artwork during the 1980s. During this time images with symbolic meaning become more prominent in monumental and mosaic art. An abundance of visual elements and the dynamics between them characterize both works.

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Mosaic Einstein in the foyer by Toma Varbanov, 1989

The mosaic is dedicated to the famous physicist Albert Einstein. The colors are well balanced, neutral, and correspond smoothly with their surroundings. The style of the mosaic is typical for the 1980s: a multitude of symbolic images and varying expanses presented in different perspectives. The depiction of Einstein is very detailed and clearly recognizable. The rest of the mosaic’s space is filled with abstract geometric shapes.

Toma Varbanov

Toma Varbanov
Photo: personal archive

Toma Varbanov was born in the city of Plovdiv. In 1969, he graduated from the National Academy of Arts in Sofia, where he had studied under Georgi Bogdanov, with a degree in “Decorative-Monumental Painting.”. From 1969–1970, he specialized at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, under Yves Brayer. He has been a member of the Union of Bulgarian Artists since 1973. Varbanov taught decorative-monumental painting at the National Academy of Art from 1970. He became an associate professor in 1977 and a professor in the wall painting department in 1985. Between 2000 and 2008, he served as Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the National Academy of Art. Among his important awards and distinctions are: the First Prize for Painting at the III National Youth Exhibition, Sofia, 1976; the National Prize for Painting “Zahari Zograf”, 1980; the “Sofia Award” for Painting, 1982; the Award for Painting from the Ministry of Defense, 1983; the Award for Painting from the National Exhibition “Suedinenieto” (“The Union”), 1985; the First Prize for Painting from the National Exhibition in Montana, 1988; and the First Prize from the National Exhibition “Olympic Ideals”, 1995.

Prof. Toma Varbanov worked in the field of painting and monumental art. His preferred techniques include mosaic, secco, and sgraffito. Among his important works are: sgraffito “Radio Dispersion” on the facade of Radio Shumen, 1972; the mosaic “Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship” on the Buzludzha Monument (Monument House of the Bulgarian Communist Party), 1981; the mosaic on the facade of the Montana Municipality building; mosaics in a shoe factory in Hadzhidimovo; sgraffito compositions at the Burgas port; a mosaic in Building “A” of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at the Sofia University, 1989; and frescoes in the Orthodox Church “Dormition of the Theotokos” at the Pamporovo resort, 2002–2008.

Gallery: “Einstein”

Mosaics Physics 1 and Physics 2 by Rujko Chelebiev, 1989

The two panels have a similar composition. Images related to mathematics and natural sciences like physics and astronomy take up the centers of both mosaics. The idea of the cycle of life, regardless of whether it is related to antiquity or modernity, is depicted through inscribed circles that serve as symbols of eternity. Various details and designs associated with the laws of physics float around the central images. The compositions and color palette are both compact and harmonious and show the artist’s usual attention to detail. The main colors are green, gray, and ochre while black and white are accent shades. The relationship between space and perspective in the mosaics is intentionally left ambiguous but the panels fit in well with the interior of the university.

Ruzhko Chelebiev

Ruzhko Chelebiev
Photo: Anton Chalakov

Ruzhko Chelebiev was born in 1948 in the city of Smolyan, Bulgaria. In 1973, he graduated with a degree in Monumental-Decorative Painting from the National Academy of Art in Sofia (then called the “High institute for fine arts “Nikolai Pavlovich”).  Since 1983, he has been a professor of painting and composition in the Department of Mural Painting, and in 2003 he became a full professor at the Academy of Fine Art in Sofia. From 1999 to 2003, he was the head of the Department of Mural Painting.

Chelebiev is an active artist in the field of monumental art and has over 40 realized works in various techniques. Some of his more important works include the mosaic “Cosmos” at the National Astronomical Observatory on the peak of Rozhen in 1980, the floor mosaic “Thracian Heritage,” the mosaics “Physics 1” and “Physics 2” at the Faculty of Physics at Sofia University in 1989, the mosaic “Technology” at the “Preciz” in Montana in 1994, and the murals “Ballet” and “Ruchenitsa” (1996) and the murals “Horo” and “Legenda” (2001) at the National School of Dance Art in Sofia.

Gallery: “Physics 1”

Gallery: “Physics 2”