Academician Svetlin Rusev Leaved a Lasting Impression on Bulgarian History

Academician Svetlin Rusev has passed away. Artist, Intellectual, Politician, Public Figure – he leaved a lasting impression on Bulgarian history.

He died at home from a heart attack, a few days before turning 85.


Svetlin Rusev was one of Bulgaria’s most prominent 20th and 21st century artists. He completed a degree in painting under Professor Dechko Uzunov. His paintings are highly sought for every exhibition and collection. He has drawn dozens of murals and frescoes, including in the National Palace of Culture and a church in the Rupite Village. Svetlin Rusev actively participated in public and political life. He was chairman of the Union of Bulgarian Artists, director of the National Art Gallery and was elected twice as a BSP Group MP.

In his last exhibition in Sofia, Svetlin Rusev united many symbols. In one of the paintings, his mother has her back to the living. The painting was made in 2016, shortly after the painter had recovered from a mild heart attack.

Svetlin Rusev was one of the few MPs who dared to confront their peers, for example Todor Zhivkov (a dictator from Bulgaria’s communist era who was in power from 1945 until 1990), with regard to the construction of the 1300 Years of Bulgaria Monument.


He managed to earn the trust of those in power, both in the distant and recent past. He was sent by Lyudmila Zhivkova to shop for the National Art Gallery. And it was he who selected the paintings for the modern gallery known as the “Bulgarian Louvre”.

“The principle on which the whole exhibition is developed, is to search, insofar as possible, for links and commensurability between Bulgarian and European art,” Svetlin Rusev said.

The artist donated his art collections, taught and funded the publication of books and catalogues. His last exhibition in Moscow is now on its way home. “Bulgaria has lost one of its wise men. A genius artist worshipped by the whole world, he refused to remain inside the ideal world of art. Svetlin Rusev was one of the few people who made us follow our conscience and would not let us turn a blind eye. He did this with a kindness that showed love to people and encouraged them to do good. He was a great man. I am grieving together with you and am grateful to have been lucky enough to have known him. Bless his eternal memory,” Prime Minister Boyko Borisov wrote to Svetlin Rusev’s family and friends.

In his lifetime, the artist was a member of the Thrace Foundation. The Thrace Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by Vasil Bojkov in 2004. As soon as it was established, the foundation took an active part in promoting, organising and supporting the preservation of cultural objects that form a part of Bulgaria’s and the world’s cultural heritage.

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