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The famous Bulgarian-French painter Nikola Manev died at 78

Renowned Bulgarian-French artist Nicolas Manev died in Paris Saturday a couple of days before turning 78, his family told BTA. 

Born in the southern town of Pazardjik, he studied at Sofia's Art Academy. He had his first exhibition at home in 1961. The next year he moved to France where he enrolled in the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he settled and worked till his last day. 

He inherited the love of art from his architect father, Stefan Manev, and his artist friend Vassil Stoilov. Throughout his career, he had over 160 one-man exhibitions across the world and participated in numerous group shows and events. He is the author of over 5,000 works of art most of which belong to private and public collections in over 30 countries. 

While he lived and worked in Paris most of his adult life, Manev remained forever connected to Bulgaria and the southern town of Chirpan where he spent his childhood days. In 2000 he bought a period house in Chirpan (Tyankov House), donated it to the Town Hall and made sure it be reconstructed and turned into a gallery. He gave away his works to help the gallery start building a collection. He also donated paintings to galleries in Lovech, Polski Trumbesh, Pazardjik, Troyan and Varna.

Manev was on the Board of The Salon d'Automne in Paris and has won many French art awards.

In a BTA interview held last week on the occasion of his upcoming birthday, Manev said that he wants his art to remain for people "like a window that opens to a more beautiful world".

He said he wanted to leave behind as many paintings as possible. "This is my wish. I don't have anything else." 

He said Bulgaria was always in his thoughts and in his paintings. 

He said he felt wonderful and that his soul felt as if he was only 18. "Now that you ask me how I feel, let me tell you that the body and the soul are two totally different things. [...] One fine day the body tells you: 'Man, that was it. I've served you and worked for you but I've had enough!" 

He said his body was failing him and he could no longer walk long distances, climb stairs or "do other things". "But my wishes and my intentions are the same I had when I was 20." 

Manev saw it as a privilege growing old. "Everybody gets a chance to live but only some have the privilege of growing old."

He also spoke in his interview about his incessant pursuit of freedom and how it is present in every one of his works. 

His birthday wish was to have more days to give him time to paint more pictures. 

Nicolas Manev's son Alexandre told BTA that he will continue to take care of his galleries and art in Bulgaria, and wants to see his father's art in the capital Sofia as well. "I want to see as many people as possible savour his art, the joy and positive vibes it brings," he said. 

Manev's wish was to be buried in Bulgaria and his son and daughter Sara hope to find a final resting place for him in the yard outside the gallery he created in Chirpan. 

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