Pencho Tihov

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–On Saturday, July 18, the Alfa Art Gallery held an opening reception for its new exhibit on Bulgarian Photography.

Located at 108 Church Street in the heart of New Brunswick’s downtown, Alfa Art Gallery attracts the city residents seeking a cultured art experience close to home. This exhibit featured artists of Cluster Photostyle work.

Although none of the artists could be present for the opening, President and Assistant Director of the Alfa Art Gallery, Galina Kourteva, was able to give more insight into the impressive background of this team of photographers. Founded by Konstantin Popov, Cluster Photostyle, “encourages the best photographers of Bulgaria,” said Kourteva.

Pencho Tihov

They are not united by their style, but by the medium in which they work. Whether abstract or more rooted in realism like Popov’s work, all the artists work together to mutually promote their art.

One of the most important values to the Cluster Photostyle team has been exposure abroad. According to Kourteva, the Alfa Art Gallery showcased some of their work in 2014. The team was then honored by having their work shown at the Bulgarian Consulate General in New York City during the same year.

This exhibit marks its third appearance in the United States. They have also been featured in Istanbul, London, and Paris. The team of artists are likely to grow and gain in popularity because Cluster Photostyle, which began in 2012, now has eight partnering companies. 

Kourteva seemed proud to welcome back Cluster Photostyle to the gallery. As President and Assistant Director of the Art Gallery, Kourteva lists “education” as a primary goal of holding an opening like this. In staying true to this mission, one of the many interns at the gallery, Kaitlin Hogate, gave a short, informative presentation on the artists. Seeing the presentation gave insight to the varying styles of each artist featured in the gallery.

The founder of Cluster Photostyle, Konstantin Popov is dedicated to the hyper-realist style. Others like Dorotheia Komitska, Sonya Stankova, and Alexander Nishkov, focus on the abstract, using photography to capture their thoughts and feelings. Femininity is also a theme explored by featured photographers, Diliana Florentin, Dinamir Predov, Gencho Petrov and Veneta Karamfilova. 

The other artists featured include Zdravko Dekov, Valentin Kirov, Pencho Tihov, Nadejda Korcheva, Milan Hristev, Georgi Dimitrov, Donka Zlatanova, and Dimitar Mitev.

While education is a clear concern for Alfa Art Gallery, the opening wasn’t all business. After Hogate’s presentation, a live musical performance by “Alfa BG Band” followed. Refreshments and snacks lightened the mood, as kids and their parents became the first to hit the proverbial dance floor. Those more interested in the art used the music as a perfect soundtrack for meandering the gallery once more.

Residents of New Brunswick, Michael Moss and John Noonan, present to support their friend Kaitin’s presentation, praised the art for its accessibility. Noonan described it as, “Eclectic. Even though nothing spoke to me as Bulgarian, I like how art can serve as a common baseline for the human experience.”

The Cluster Photosyle team’s work will continue to be exhibited until August 30. Alfa Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m Tuesday through Saturday. Further inquiries can be directed to Galina Kourtev at [email protected], or Kristen Fiumecaldo, the art gallery manager, at [email protected].