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Theodore Ushev, The Matter of Memory

Foyer Luce-Guilbeault, Raoul-Barré Space, Norman-McLaren Space and Espace Louise-Beaudet
Theodore Ushev
Free admission
Marco de Blois, Marie-Douce St-Jacques, Doriane Biot, Yaël Ben Nun, Lucie Cabanes
May 3rd - September 22nd, 2024

La Cinémathèque québécoise is proud to present a major exhibition of the work of Theodore Ushev, in partnership with the Musée-Château d’Annecy. Ushev was born in Kyustendil, Bulgaria in 1968, and has lived and worked in Canada since 1999. His singularly personal style of film animation has brought him many prizes and distinctions, notably at the Oscars, and in festivals in Annecy, Montréal, Ottawa, Zagreb, and Hiroshima. 

Ushev’s films are marked by a myriad of influences, from visual art, to literature, to music. At the crossroads of many practices—painting, collage, photography, live action film, and animation—his work, itself a fusion of cinema and contemporary art, is both fascinating and multifaceted. References to past and present realities and the slow rhythm of passing time fuel Ushev’s films, making him a wholly atypical figure in the ecosystem of animated cinema.
Please note that bags will not be allowed inside the exhibition.

The opening will take place on May 2 at 5:30 pm, in the presence of the artist.

Text by the co-commissary


That's the word that springs to mind when we discover the work of Theodore Ushev. The artist's stunning work, the energy of his gesture, all strike the mind. 

Theodore Ushev draws inspiration from all the arts, questions the state of the world and projects himself into his own creations. His whirling Trilogy of the 20th Century, which depicts the wanderings of history, and his masterpiece Physique de la tristesse are breathtaking shows that evoke powerful emotions. The intimate and the universal coexist in his work. 

Theodore Ushev, animation phases of the film The Physics of Sorrow, 2019. Encaustic-paint (hot-wax) and pencil on paper | Collection of the artist

Theodore Ushev, research drawing for the film Blind Vaysha, 2016. Linocut print on paper | Collection of the artist

In Ushev's work, you have to go beyond animation to be captivated by the force of the editing, the interweaving of shots and sequences, and the staging. You have to experience the complementarity of images, sounds and music. 

Theodore Ushev is a multidisciplinary artist. Of course, his cinematographic drawings and paintings occupy an essential place in his practice, but to fully grasp the scope of his approach, our attention must also be drawn to his paintings, installations, illustrations, posters and performances. Ushev is a complete artist. 

There is tenderness in the filmmaker. There is also sarcasm. There's hope. Sadness. The artist brings to life the full complexity of the human experience. 

In a word: stunning. 

Marco de Blois
Co-curator of the exhibition The Matter of Memory  
Programmer and curator, animation cinema 
Artistic Director, Sommets du cinéma d'animation


General Curator :
Marcel Jean, General Director of the Cinémathèque québécoise
Lionel François, Director-Curator, Annecy Museums

Scientific Curators :
Marco de Blois, Programmer-Curator, Animation, Cinémathèque québécoise
Marie-Douce St-Jacques, Head of Exhibitions, Cinémathèque québécoise
Doriane Biot, Head of Exhibitions (until January 2023), Cinémathèque québécoise
Yaël Ben Nun, Head of Animation Collections, Musée-Château d'Annecy
Lucie Cabanes, Head of Contemporary Art Collections, Musée-Château d'Annecy

Theodore Ushev, The Matter of Memory is co-produced by the Cinémathèque québécoise and the Musée-Château d'Annecy, in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada.

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the Ville d'Annecy, the Festival international du film d'animation d'Annecy and the Canada Council for the Arts. The Cinémathèque québécoise would also like to thank the team at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in France.

Header image
Self-portrait in a museum, image from the film The Physics of Sorrow, 2019, Theodore Ushev.

Exhibition catalogue

Bring The Matter of Memory with you!

Produced under the direction of Yaël Ben Nun, Lucie Cabanes, Marco de Blois and Doriane Biot, this 208-page catalog, published by Silvana Editoriale (Milan), features over 200 illustrations by the artist, exclusive texts and much more!

Available for $50 at our boutique.
Get your copy now!
In French only

Theodore Ushev

A graduate of the Sofia National Academy of Fine Arts, Theodore Ushev is a much sought-after poster designer. He moved to Montreal in 1999, where he soon found the National Film Board of Canada to be a fertile ground for developing his style. Over the course of two decades, he produced 15 animated films. His acclaimed trilogy on the relationship between art and power - Tower Bawher (2006), Drux Flux (2008) and Gloria Victoria (2013) - quickly earned the respect of audiences and festival juries alike. The Physics of Sorrow (2019), his most ambitious work, is based on a novel by Georgui Gospodinov. It is the first fully animated film made using the encaustic-painting technique, also known as hot-wax painting. Over the course of his career, Theodore Ushev has also signed a carte blanche for the Festival du nouveau cinéma (Rossignols in December) and numerous independent films (Sonámbulo, Demoni, Life in a Box). His first live-action film, the dystopian Phi 1.618 (a Bulgaria-Canada co-production), was released last year.

In addition to his films, Ushev creates innovative installations, multimedia works and virtual reality projects. He gives master classes all over the world.