Currently on display at The Rooms is The Free World, an exhibition curated by Mireille Eagan. The show highlights the experiences of five Bulgarian artists who defected to Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1990s. These artists were part of the one percent that decided to stay out of the 3,000 Bulgarian refugees that landed at the Gander airport. The incredible artwork of Vessela Brakolova, Ellie Yonova, Luben Boykov, Elena Popova, and Veselina Tomova will be on display at The Free World until September 18th.
Veselina Tomova' detailed, collage-like prints suggest narrative with symbolic imagery of animals, people, and houses. She also showcases animals such as a squid, mermaid, and goat on her whimsical ceramic teapots that are a mysterious treat for viewers. The colourful drawings and prints of Elena Popova's are full of colour and energy, and have a sense of incredible, full body-movement through their large, loose gestures. Vessela Brakalova's mosaics colourful and sparkly depictions of abstracted Newfoundland and Labrador landscapes, with imagery beautifuly referencing strong winds and waves, bright houses, and rugged earth. Ellie Yonova's photography showcases distorted plants, flowers, and bubbles when warped by layers of water and folds of glass. These break away from traditional still life photography by presenting a questionable reality to her viewers. Luben Boykov, the sculptor of the group, creates unearthly figures out of natural materials such as grass and paper and stabilizes them in wax or bronze. His sculptures communicate intense emotions such as loneliness and anxiety through their purposeful body language.
Individually, all five artists' bodies of work are unique and engaging. However, when they are combined they speak about the shifting experience of Newfoundland and Labrador from a place away from home to a home itself. The Free World is definitely a must-see exhibition for September.