Nedko Solakov's gallery tour takes in 'smallest room'

Bulgarian artist gives Phaidon ‘backstage view’ of new Birmingham show


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Normally we run a mile when a stranger invites us into a public convenience but when Nedko Solakov extended the invitation yesterday during a preview of his retrospective show at the IKON gallery in Birmingham we felt it churlish to refuse.  

The Birmingham show is a chronological survey, comprising one work for every year since Solakov emerged as an artist at the start of the Eighties. Solakov was a key figure in The City? - a seminal show staged in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1988, shortly before the fall of the country’s communist government.

His paintings around that time tended toward story-telling and figuration, though the Ikon show also includes many examples of his move towards the kinds of black humour that now characterise his work, and is best evidenced in his wonderful Collector's Edition for Phaidon, 99 Fears. Solakov’s number one fear is flying - a 1987 painting in the exhibition, Fear, pictures the artist strapped into the body of an aeroplane.

During our time with Nedko he lifted the lid, in very confessional terms, on his time spent as an informant for the Bulgarian Secret Service between 1976 and 1984 - a state of affairs alluded to in one of the pieces, Top Secret, in the show. We’ll be posting more on that later. For now though, watch the video, visit the show (it’s also in Ghent and Porto) and do think seriously about buying the book, it’s one of our favourites here at

Nedko Solakov - All In Order, With Exceptions runs at the Ikon Gallery until November 13, 2011. It’s organised in conjunction with and runs concurrently with other Solakov retrospectives at S.M.A.K., Ghent, Museu de Serralves, Porto and Fondazione Galleria Civica, Trento. Each show has a slightly different selection as chosen by the individual curators. 



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