curated by Johan Gustavsson
21.09.2023 - 28.10.2023
Kosta Tonev. Midpoint, 2013-2015, detail
Nedko Solakov. Neighbours, 1986, charcoal, graphite, ink, acrylic, red chalk on paper, 71 x 95 cm
Spartak Dermendjiev. Portrait of my mother Liliana Zahova as a young girl from a photograph, 1940, white chamotte clay, 26 x 15 x 18 cm
Iskra Blagoeva. Oedipus Was a Cheater, 2020 stone, 90 x 75 x 44 cm, edition of 3
The latest exhibition at Structura Gallery will be a lighthearted group show that explores human struggles in the quest to find happiness and pursue a fulfilling life.
We all just wanna be happy!
As part of the long-term project “Hotline” Maria Vassileva invited Netherlands based curator Johan Gustavsson to explore the Bulgarian art scene and build an exhibition around his discoveries. After extensive research that included numerous meetings and studio visits with artists in Sofia and Plovdiv, Gustavsson has brought together a collection of diverse artworks that delve into the notion of happiness and our, sometimes painful, journey toward it. The exhibition is a humorous probe into how we all strive to find happiness and are prepared to do almost anything to achieve it. Yet our pursuit often leads to disappointment longing for the things that might have been and wondering if they could have been different.
Arguably, happiness is related to how secure people feel in their lives. But according to recent UNDP reports, six of seven human beings in the world feel insecure! And the higher the level of development a country has, the more insecurity people feel. In 2023, for the first time in history, young people are growing up with the idea that their situation is worse than that of the generation before. And even though factors of development – such as literacy, access to information, life expectancy, child birth deaths and improved economic positions for millions – are increasing, the people of the world are confronting social pressure, failing governments, wars, the climate crisis, a surge in conspiracy theories and a multitude of other abominations that challenge their sense of security and contentment.
Musical composition: Milen Apostolov
Assistant Curator: Camille Van Meenen
Johan Gustavsson (b. 1978 in Stockholm) is a curator and educator based in The Hague, The Netherlands. He is co-director/ curator at 1646 (www.1646.nl), lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art, in The Hague, co-founder of (www.alternativeartguide.com), The Hague Contemporary and head of the board at (www.page-not-found.nl).
Gustavsson curates the large-scale exhibitions Prospects for the Mondriaan Fonds from 2020-2024 at the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam and in conjunction with Art Rotterdam. Gustavsson further worked as a Cultural Ambassador for the city The Hague and has curated well over hundred exhibitions. His focus is on artistic practices that use strategies such as fictioning, complicating and humor in their work in order to generate dialogue or to propose alternative points of view. The notion is that fiction is an essential instrument to help imagine the world differently. In the same light, embracing and celebrating complexity, contradiction and paradox – as inherent qualities of human existence – are essential to weigh up against the predominance of rationality and logic. Finally, using playfulness and humor as tools is needed to maintain an open attitude.
The project is realized with the financial support of the National Culture Fund and Gaudenz B. Ruf.