A strong artistic philosophy reflects a provincial view

Replica. Ceramoplastic exhibition by Valery Koltygin on show for the last month at the National Art Museum

Replica. Ceramoplastic exhibition by Valery Koltygin on show for the last month at the National Art Museum

Valery Koltygin, one of the most popular and famous Belarusian masters of the decorative-and-applied arts (ceramics), is happy to agree that he is a product of the region where he was born and grew up and which has shaped his character and outlook. Even now, he lives and works in the province. Living in the rural area is not merely a lifestyle choice for Mr. Koltygin; it’s a special place to study and a rich source of artistic ideas, thoughts and images. “A rural area is a kind of microcosm of human existence,” he believes. ‘Like a broken mirror, it reflects details or the fragments of a human soul through a poetic or philosophical approach.”

At Valery Koltygin’s exhibition

Mr. Koltygin has his own view on art, crafts and his artistry. “The realism of life reflected in art is always present irrespective of what form an artist chooses: literature, theatre, dance, music, singing, pictorial art, graphics, sculpture or architecture. It depends on the level of the artistic personality, their professionalism and the audiences’ level of education,” he explains. “For me, there are certain themes for a ceramist artist to portray: these play with plot, idea and form, as well as compositional variations of plastic decisions, professionalism and depth of technological knowledge. Everything mixes in the desire to demonstrate a new outlook on daily life and its phenomena: grotesque, associations, contrasts, rhythmic, surrealism and fantasy combine.”

Ceramoplastic by V. Koltygin

Mr. Koltygin produces a wide range of work, including small decorative plastic forms and interior ceramics and sculpture. “I work over series on a certain topic,” he comments. “I use different means of hand modelling exclusively with fire clay and a firing temperature of 1000-1050°C.” Fire clay is a raw material which requires a special approach and gives unusual results. His style is characterised by rustic, cracked, textured surfaces, contrasting in relief. As a rule, functionality and decorativeness are united in each piece.

“Improvisation as a method of creativity and artistry enables me to be guided by a certain imaginative idea to quickly develop figurative images during the modelling and formation process.”

Mr. Koltygin’s ceramic plastics are most often in particular colours. Glazing and burning are responsible for creating the finished ceramic article. “It’s more exciting for me than working with plastics,” he explains. “The professional skill of a ceramicist is the basis of true art.” Mr. Koltygin has fully devoted his life to ceramic art. He is inspired by self-knowledge and strives for perfection in his creative pieces. The results of his work are on show at the country’s major museum.


Valery Koltygin was born in 1947 in Antopol, in Brest’s Drogichin District. In 1979, he graduated from the Belarusian State Theatre and Art Institute’s Ceramics Department and, since 1976, has been participating in art shows in Belarus and abroad. Mr. Koltygin is a member of the Belarusian Union of Artists. Since 2003, he has been an organiser and head of annual international open air workshops on ceramics — ART-Zhyzhal — in Bobruisk. From 2003-2010, he was a participant at the international KERAMOS biennales of ceramics (Poland, Warsaw). He is a laureate of the Belarusian President’s special award granted to figures of culture and art and a holder of a Frantsisk Skorina Medal.

The artist’s works are kept at Belarus’ National Art Museum, the Belarusian Union of Artists’ fund, Mogilev’s Maslenikov Regional Art Museum, Bobruisk’s Art Museum, Gomel’s Vashchenko Picture Gallery and Minsk’s Museum of Contemporary Fine Arts.

By Veniamin Mikheev
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