They have Asian features, speak excellent Bulgarian and live in Paris.
The heirs of the world-famous Bulgarian artist Marin Varbanov and the Chinese artist, model and actress Madame Song are Boryana and Phoenix, who are characters in the last episode of the first season of the documentary series of journalist Georgi Toshev “Children of the Other Bulgaria”, which will be broadcast today by from 12.30 on bTV. Toshev’s first meeting with them was in 2007 in Beijing, when he was filming an episode of “The Other Bulgaria”.
Thirteen years later, he found a brother and sister in the French capital, where they live today.
“Their family story is the plot of Hollywood movies. A Bulgarian artist managed to break through the Iron Curtain in the early 1970s. His name is Marin Varbanov, the boy from Oryahovo, who reached Beijing and Paris, whose art glorified our country during communism.
His personal history and love with the Chinese Song continue to excite the audience for years after he is not among us, “said Toshev.
Marin Varbanov creates large-scale works of textiles, which are shown around the world, and his art is studied today in China. Madame Song is an artist, an actress whose beautiful features we remember from films such as “Every Mile” and “The Sun and the Shadow”.
In the 1980s, she made a real cultural revolution in China, inviting French designer Pierre Cardin to make her first fashion show in China, and soon opened a branch of the famous Parisian restaurant “Maxim” in the Chinese capital.
Photo: Personal archive
The Sun is actually tearing down the Great Wall of China for Western culture. Just as Marin Varbanov broke down prejudices years ago because of her great Bulgarian love. The elegant lady is Carden’s best model. His elegant suits fit her perfectly. He poses with Alain Delon. But she does not fall in love with him, but remains in love and faithful to Marin. He even contributed to Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. Her daughter Boryana also works for the film, helping to create the costumes. She and her brother also have an art education. They both keep the memory of their parents to this day. And their artistic heritage.
Boryana was born in Beijing and Phoenix in Sofia. He spent his summers in Oryahovo, but his mother and father took him to Paris, where Marin Varbanov was given the opportunity to make a studio for modern tapestries. The boy is 14 years old, Bulgarian-Chinese, does not know a word of French. He is enrolled in high school, but he is lonely. Thus, in this solitude, he discovered the art of Dali, of the Impressionists, of Margit…, and began to paint. But the blood does not become water – he is drawn to the black and white ink drawing, the magic of the paper that absorbs the black and it becomes a picture.
He often thinks of Bulgaria, in the summer he hurries to his friends from the neighborhood around the “Doctor’s Garden”. Not everyone is lucky that Stoimen Stoilov is his teacher in graphics, but he is. Phoenix completed his education in Paris, and at that time Sun, thanks to his connections with Carden, managed to make a cultural revolution in his homeland.
Marin Varbanov made a school for tapestries and turned their production into an industry – so necessary for the young Chinese state. Today in one of the halls of the National Art Gallery you can see works by Varbanov, which are part of a large retrospective exhibition.
Photo: Personal archive
Phoenix Varbanov’s black and white works are displayed in various galleries around the world. “The drama is in their DNA because they are a crossroads between big cultures. “They reflect my path between China and France,” Phoenix said.
His sister Boryana is the guardian of the family’s memory. She is responsible for preserving both the love letters between Sun and Marin, which were left in the hollow tree and are now bought from the M + Museum in Hong Kong, and for their mother’s paintings and their father’s tapestries, which without special storage they would disintegrate.
This museum also houses 100 Pierre Cardin costumes from the 80s and 90s, which Sun wore when the brand was established in China and which today are extremely valuable for the history of fashion and high price.
Boryana and Phoenix Varbanovi talk about life between different cultures and the feeling of belonging to Bulgaria in the film by Georgi Toshev, Aglika Delaye and Emma Konstantinova, which will be broadcast on December 12, Saturday at 12.30 pm on bTV.