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My encounters with the monuments of human civilization on the territory of Bulgaria today were an exciting challenge for me.

Working on this project gave me the opportunity to travel again across my beautiful country viewing it from an entirely new perspective.

I had the opportunity to visit the Valley of the Thracian Kings near Kazanlak and ex┬Čamine in tranquility the magnificent paintings of the tomb from Kazanlak, the tomb from Alexandrovo near Haskovo and the strange stone figures in the tomb from Svesluary near the town of Isperih. The feeling was odd - in the complete silence I had the sense of being an intruder let in there by mistake - a disturber of the eternal peace of these sophisticated and proud people.

While photographing I started painting with the light - my basic means of expression - rather than simply "lighting up".

I felt thai taking just "photographs of museum exponents" was not enough for me and wherever I came across a human face - in pottery, silver and gold - I aimed at achieving my attitude while portraying living people. I tried to reach a human touch with these beautiful images.

It may sound strange to you but I started finding resemblance between the human images - objects of my work, and people I meet accidentally during my journeys around Bulgaria. And it already seems to me completely natural, despite the thousands of years rhat have passed - today we arc Temporarily inhabiting the highest stratum, the same places where the heroes of this exhibition have once lived.

I had the ultimate pleasure of associating with my hosts - the museum people of Varna, Burgas, Sozopol and Nessebar, Kazanlak, Haskovo, Nova Zagora and Stara Zagora, Plovdiv, Vratza, Pleven, Silistra, Sofia - the Archeological Museum and the National Historical Museum. Warm people met me everywhere, excellent specialists bestowing great care on rich museum collections.

Seeing the wealth of these extraordinary museums spread all over Bulgaria, I realized that what I have photographed for this travelling exhibition is only the peak of an iceberg. These are just the main strokes of a picture, which is constantly complemented and enriched by new discoveries. Ihe museums' funds and their permanent exhibitions display are the source of inexhaustible opportunities for comparisons and reflections. Therefore the true place for a real communion with our unique cultural-historical heritage is Bulgaria itself - the cradle of ancient civilizations.

Ivo Hadjimishev