The Sofia Car, 2021
Lazar Lyutakov presents the only Bulgarian sports car - “Sofia”, designed and built by the engineer Velizar Andreev. “Sofia” was constructed with the help and financial support of the science and technology wing of the Youth organization of the Bulgarian communist party. 50 cars were completed between 1985 and 1988. With the radical design of its fiberglass body, the car remains a unique piece of Bulgarian industrial design.
On old photographs from the 1980s, the car can be seen in the center of the capital, surrounded by curious onlookers. “Sofia” was radically different from the traditional boxy design of most vehicles at the time. It had a markedly aerodynamic body, a mid-engine for better steering, gullwing doors and pop-up headlights. Several of the prototypes were painted in bright, rare-at-the-time colors, which added to its unique style. Andreev dedicated most of his life to the project for a lightweight sports car. He developed several different versions, known as the “Model B”, a pre-production phase for a planned run of 200 cars per year. The company “Avantgarde-Car” was set up in 1986 to launch the production.
Until his death in 2001, Velizar Andreev remained an avid proponent of the dream for a Bulgarian sports car and his workshop established itself as the first and only practical school for car engineers and designers in Bulgaria.
As the years went on, “Sofia” faded from public memory. Nowadays only car enthusiasts and friends of the engineer remember it and the it is a rare collectible, which cannot be seen in its original, authentic shape anywhere - not even in a museum. The car presented here is one of the few surviving prototypes.
Lazar Lyutakov is fascinated by “Sofia” not only as a product of its particular historical circumstances, but as a piece of design that can testify to the era that produced it: one that merges the promise of technological advancement, so characteristic of the age of state socialism, with aesthetics. Lyutakov is interested in the factors that shape the perceptions and tastes of the mass consumer.
Discussions on social media show how controversial the work of Velizar Andreev is. For some, his work is an all-Bulgarian achievement that should be preserved as an important part of the history of Bulgarian car-making. Others think “Sofia” just another design in the line of doomed projects of late socialism, very far from the pinnacle of car design at the time. To this day, it remains the only sports car designed in Bulgaria.
The work of Velizar Andreev, accomplished in a time when Bulgaria was isolated from the cutting edge technologies, materials and production processes, speaks of the fact that despite all odds, a dream can come to fruition, and as long as there is someone who believes in it and works toward it.
Lazar Lyutakov studied at the National Art Academy in Sofia (1998-2000) and graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 2005. His works were included in the the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, where he and Rada Boukova represented Bulgaria (2019); the 6th Moscow Biennale (special project, 2015); 1st Vienna Biennale at MAK, Vienna (2015); Take – Festival for Independent Fashion and Arts, Vienna, (2016); 1st Triennial in Linz, (2010) and the Sofia Underground Festival, (2007). Lyutakov’s works are held in permanent collections at the Artothek – Collection of the Austrian Culture Office; Collection of Wien Museum, Vienna; EVN Collection Maria Austria, Freie Samm lung Vienna and the Collection of the Sofia City Art Gallery. He has received several grants and art prizes in Austria and held residencies at Shanghai Theatre Academy in 2012 and SoArt in 2018. Lazar Lyutakov participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide, among others at SKLAD Plovdiv, BG, (2019); The Brno House of Arts, (2019); Charim Gallery, Vienna (2019); Temporary Parapet, Bratislava (2018); Gallery 400, Chicago, (2013); AKKU Stuttgart, (2016); ICA Sofia, (2015); Gallery Jacob Björn, Aarhus, (2015); Blackbridge, Beijing, (2015); GGM2, Gdansk, (2013) and others.