SARIEV Contemporary is a second generation gallery considered one of the essential places for discovering contemporary art in Bulgaria. Specializing in contemporary Bulgarian art, the gallery has a history of building private collections, advising corporate collections and cooperating with international museums and institutions.
SARIEV Contemporary was founded by Katrin Sarieva and Vesselina Sarieva in 2011 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city. SARIEV Contemporary is the successor to the original gallery opened by the Sariev family in 2004, the Sariev Gallery, which specialised in photography and ceramics. The gallery's activities have always extended beyond its physical space, as evidenced by the large number of satellite projects and external initiatives in SARIEV's history.
The main exhibition space of SARIEV Contemporary is in the centre of the historical city of Plovdiv next to the Ancient Odeon on Otets Paisiy Street - a street with its own rich history that allows a charming alternative to the corporate retailers on the main pedestrian walkway just one block over. The gallery has its own café with a library – the artnewscafé. The exhibition space in SARIEV Contemporary is small scaled, and inspired by the white cube concept. It offers flexibility to artists and curators to transform the space according to their own concept and vision.
Between 2014 and 2015, the gallery launched the pop-up gallery, Sariev Project Space, in the Kapana arts district of Plovdiv, where the exhibitions presenting young artists took place.
In 2017, the Gallery started SARIEV Studio in Sofia, with the concept of a establishing a space for collectors’ to discover artists and works in personal meetings. The studio space is situated in the former sculpture studio of the well known Bulgarian artist, Dimitar Boykov (1927-2000) and is located near the historical Women's Market.
The gallery represents a broad view of different generations of Bulgarian artists and art movements. The gallery works only with professional artists who have international careers, and who belong to a wider European artistic scene. Well established figures such as Nedko Solakov, Pravdoliub Ivanov, Stefan Nikolaev, Luchezar Boyadjiev, as well as younger artists Kamen Stoyanov, Rada Boukova and Valio Tchenkov. The gallery also supports the development of the next generation of artists such as Lubri, Voin de Voin, Vikenti Komitski and Martina Vacheva.
Sariev actively collaborates with both respected local curators, and renowned international curators in developing exhibitions at the gallery. Two of these curated exhibition programs in particular, have become influential for the national art scene over the years: Background: Young Artists and Re-discovery.
One of the main objectives of SARIEV Contemporary, is the promotion of Bulgarian artists in international art fairs. SARIEV Contemporary is generally the sole Bulgarian gallery to participate in these pan European fairs.
The gallery initiates, and finds support for public sculpture projects.
When the gallery opened in 2011, the Bulgarian contemporary art scene had very poor visibility outside of the country. Katrin and Vesselina Sarievi committed early on to a number of core initiatives to support and develop the scene in Plovdiv, Sofia and presence of Bulgarian contemporary Art on the international map. Along with the gallery, they founded by the non profit organisation Open Arts Foundation, to develop educational platforms that take place in Sofia's major museums and cultural centers. This has manifested as a popular annual educational course Introduction to Contemporary Art (since 2011) and the Collectors' Forum (since 2011).
In addition to publishing artists' and exhibition catalogues, SARIEV Contemporary and Open Arts Foundation have also commissioned the survey Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art. This bilingual book published by Janet 45, due in 2018, by art historian Vessela Nozharova will be a comprehensive overview of the countrie's main currents in Contemporary Art.
To further realise the goal of establishing international connections and promote the visibility of Bulgarian art, in 2015 they started an annual program Working Visits for International Curators and Art Critics which invites and sponsors international curators and art critics to a working visit in Plovdiv and Sofia, in order to discover the local contemporary art scene, and foster the exchange of ideas between Bulgarian artists and curators from across the world.