Rossen Uzunov: True enjoyment of art comes from seeing it live

We are working constantly and I do not think times are harder now than before Covid

I believe that the gallery having a specific profile and focus is useful and interesting to both art lovers and nature lovers. It is fascinating to see these two audiences mingle, communicate, and discover new things each for their own selves, says gallerist Rossen Uzunov in an interview to EUROPOST.

Have lovers of painting art returned to Little Bird Place Gallery since its reopening?

They had never left (he says with a smile). Although we had to close our doors to visitors for a while due to the imposed (pandemic) restrictions, we remained close to our audience, kept up our activities and sought different ways of communication. I dare say that during the stints when we were “closed” we managed to win over new friends. We have already had several meetings and conversations in person with people who found out about us during the lockdown and kept a close eye on us. They came to see us once we reopened.

During the lockdown, you started offering paintings that people can take home to enjoy for up to three months for free. How many people took advantage of your ART@HOME initiative and how much longer will it continue?

The ART@HOME initiative was launched during the lockdown, but in reality it was not related to it. The idea was conceived before Covid-19 and born out of people's need to have some time to think before buying a certain painting, to see if it is the right painting for them, to ask the opinions of their loved ones, to sleep on the idea of acquiring the artwork. The initiative drew a great deal of interest in the first few weeks, but, as strange as it may sound, Bulgarians tend to be hesitant about such opportunities. The first clients of ART@HOME were foreigners residing in Bulgaria - they are much more open-minded and have no trouble taking advantage of such initiatives. All in all, I believe it is a very successful project and it is still going - we are still offering people the chance to 'try a painting' by taking it home.

Which group is bigger - the people who visit the gallery or those who view the exhibitions online?

I have no sense of the numbers and I do not have actual data - I would really love that it is the people who see the exhibitions live. Although our gallery boasts serious online presence both in Bulgaria and on prestigious international art platforms such as Artnet, Artsper, Artland and others, I am convinced that true enjoyment of art comes from seeing it live.

How do you manage to survive in these challenging times?

We keep moving forward, thinking of different and new forms of presenting the things we do. We also established an Art Residency in the village of Leshten in the Rhodope Mountains, where in the summer of 2020 we offered free stay to talented young Bulgarian artists so they can create artworks for the gallery's profile. We are working constantly, and I do not think times are harder now than before Covid-19 hit.

You present mostly young artists. Is that not risky?

Risky how? This is the best part - that it is risky, that there is experimentation and “action”, that something new is happening all the time. For us, working with young people is a pleasure, but if you look at the gallery's 2020 programme, you will see that we showcase plenty of established artists too.

Exhibitions at your gallery reflect a specific theme. Do you believe that art can be helpful in achieving the much-desired and now desperately needed harmony between man and nature?

Yes. And the more we talk about this, the better. I believe that the gallery having a specific profile and focus is useful and interesting to both art lovers and nature lovers. It is fascinating to see these two audiences mingle, communicate, and discover new things each for their own selves.

The gallery's name betrays your passion for ornithology. How and when did it start?

This has been a great passion of mine since childhood and it obviously remains strong to this day.  

You have a doctor of medicine degree and you used to work for the pharmaceutical industry. What made you give up this extremely lucrative business so you can devote yourself to art?

I gave enough of my time to the pharmaceutical industry, nearly 23 years. I believe that people should change and experiment. Now I feel truly wonderful in an environment that is still new to me, and among great people. Sometimes I see curious parallels with the corporate world. But most of the time I just try to have fun.

One swallow doesn't make a spring, as the saying goes, but perhaps Little Bird can?

Of course not, but it can remind that the spring is coming!

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Rossen Uzunov is founder and owner of Little Bird Place Gallery in Sofia. He is a doctor of medicine and a former top manager for a leading international company in the pharmaceutical sector. Avid nature and bird lover, photography enthusiast.

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