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Stefan Nikolaev - Prestige

Stefan Nikolaev - 'Sickkiss', 2006
Stefan Nikolaev - 'Sickkiss', 2006, 35mm film transferred to DVD, 6'25'' loop

As the inaugural show for a new gallery space in Sofia, ARC Projects presents Prestige, a solo exhibition by Stefan Nikolaev.

15 September - 20 October 2007
Exhibition open Wednesday - Saturday, 3 - 8 pm
ARC Projects
4th Floor, Boulevard Vitosha 90
1463 Sofia, Bulgaria

The show takes its name from a brand of cigarette produced in Bulgaria, thereby evoking a specific cultural resonance, comprising the construction of brands through design, symbols and language. The word "prestige" conjures a certain air of (Western) luxury and glamour, the cursive script of the brand's logotype signals heightened status. The exhibition title also makes an ironic nod towards the prestigious role the artist has been given, to be the first to exhibit in a new gallery.

Many of the works in this exhibition are devoted to a near universal, if controversial icon: the cigarette. The video 'Sickkiss' (above) features an unusual twist on the act of kissing on screen. Splitting the gallery into two spaces is a large billboard, which bears the distinctive and evocative image of the Marlboro cowboy riding his horse in the desert. The jet black polished 'Table-Ashtray' squats nearby; hanging above are cigarette shaped lamps, modelled after the 'Prestige' cigarettes of the exhibition title. On the walls, a filigreed, smoke-and-flame piece made of twisted neon tubes, with cables wrapped in leather; and opposite, delicately intricate photo-collage drawings of a woman "smoking" complete the display.

As international art magazine Artforum has stated, Nikolaev comments on "advertising's construction of consumer desire, while imbuing decorative objects with satisfying irony".

In addition to the exhibition at ARC Projects gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia will show a video work by Stefan Nikolaev, 'Minouk le poisson peintre', in their 'Crouch(klek)-Art Basement Project', a space facing onto the street and viewed at night.

Stefan Nikolaev was born in Sofia in 1970. He lives and works in Paris and Sofia. Stefan's practice encompasses sculpture, video, and installation. He is one of three artists chosen to represent Bulgaria at the 52nd Venice Biennale, and will participate in the Lyon Biennale later this month. Recent exhibitions include 'Powerful Tips', Centre de Création Contemporaine, Tours (solo), (2006); 'More', Galerie Traversée, Munich (solo), (2006); 'Come to where the Flavour is', CCA, Glasgow (solo), (2005); 'Joy', Casino Luxembourg (2005), 'Donumenta', Regensburg, Germany (2005).

Exhibition curated by Chris Byrne and Iliyana Nedkova. Organised by ARC Projects in co-operation with Galerie Michel Rein, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia; and Marin Markov Studio, Sofia. ARC Projects major sponsor LIA company, Sofia. Exhibition supported by Sign Café, ABOD Design and Pernot Ricard.

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