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Dogu Bankov: Don’t Shoot the Waiter Before Lunch

In collaboration with artist Goran Ohldieck, M.K Ciurlionis National Museum of Art in Kaunas, Lithuania and Bonington Gallery presented the UK premier of Don’t Shoot the Waiter Before Lunch.

The early years of Dogu Bankov’s life are very hazy, in the few remaining manuscripts in existence that he submitted to the Bulgarian National Art Academy during his time there in the early 1900’s, Bankov provides two different years of birth 1884 and 1885. The disclosure of his country of birth is also a mystery it is said that he was born in Bulgaria, or possibly Macadonia, but his family connections with Bulgaria suggest that he is more likely to be of Bulgarian origin.

During the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a Communist government in Bulgaria during the War many intellectuals and cultural workers left the harsh conditions in Bulgaria mostly settling in Paris.

Later a decree was sanctioned by the Minister of Culture in Bulgaria ordering that those who left were to be regarded as traitors. Following this sanction in 1989 the Bulgarian State Art Institutions tried to buy works by these artists, including the work of Dogu Bankov, only to be told that they had been destroyed.

Norwegian artist Goran Ohldieck investigating the work of Bankov contacted the Bulgarian National Art Academy, only to be told that all records and documents had been destroyed.

Today Bankov’s art creates curiosity concerning concurrent events in greater Europe; questions of individual and national identity, artistic authorship and historical certainty seem to become somewhat creatively unstable in the face of Bankov’s work. Whether these are the ‘real ones’ remains unknown, nor does it really matter apart from the fact that Bankov seems to be becoming increasingly relevant.

The publication that accompanied the exhibition refers to a manuscript by Agnes Shaunegger, a one-time chef in the café L’Ane Rouge in Paris where the artists from Bulgaria used to meet. She was later asked by the art collector Amchiel Goldstein to write down her memories of that time.