All colours of a native city

It turned out to be that calendars with the views of the modern Belarusian capital and Minsk of the last centuries are desired by... the citizens of Novy Urengoy, Tashkent, Kharkov, Saint-Petersburg and other cities. They write about this on the e-mail of the painter Vladimir Sharkov
It turned out to be that calendars with the views of the modern Belarusian capital and Minsk of the last centuries are desired by... the citizens of Novy Urengoy, Tashkent, Kharkov, Saint-Petersburg and other cities. They write about this on the e-mail of the painter Vladimir Sharkov.

During the quarter of the century the main art topic of this Belarusian painter and graphic artist is a Belarusian city. Winter and summer, old and young. On some pictures the painter shows Minsk in a certain age and year. On the others he shows it out of time, giving full swing to fantasy and imagination. He tries to imagine, how this or that corner could have looked like in the past, strives to convey the spirit of time.

On his pictures there are the Upper City and Troitskoe Suburbs, the City Town hall and Aleksandrovsky Park, Sobornaya square and Gubernatorskaya street with a horse-tram. And also churches, cathedrals, monasteries...

Old-timers often recognize on Sharkov’s canvases and auto-lithographies streets and houses, which image changed significantly today. And some of them don’t exist now. No wonder, because Vladimir spent much time in the National historical archive and in the archive of cinema-, photo-, phonodocuments in the libraries... As a result, many of his works acquired documentary strokes. Not by chance on one of the lithographies there are surprising signs on a building — “Colonial trade”, “Hardware”...

“Sometimes you see during a work, how this or that building looks like today, and think: here a window would come pat, and here — a column. Then you study archival documents and it turnes out to be that it was like this in reality. This is why I draw sometmies and then simply checked with old photos,” the painter says.

According to Vladimir Sharkov, few photos of Minsk before the Great Patriotic War were preserved. And even fewer photos of the city of the ХIХth century.

“In the beginning of the last century photographers specialized in portraits. It wasn’t common practice to photograph city landscapes. Besides, much attention was paid not to Minsk, but to Vitebsk and Mogilev. During the Great Patriotic War the citizens were prohibited to take photos in the city. In the 30’s–40’s parades and demonstrations of workers were photographed for the history. Who would think that half a century after the descendants will be so much interested in the streets and buildings of their native city, many of which will be destroyed by the war,” Vladimir continues.

...This year exhibitions of Sharkov’s works were presented in the National museum of history and culture, in several city libraries. Now the exposition of his gravures is in Slutsk, and in the capital in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been recently represented colorful auto-lithographies of the series “Minsk. History of transport”. Vladimir dedicated it to the future 80th anniversary of a Belarusian tram. According to the painter, this kind of transport has been the most widely spread in our city since the 30’s. 7–8 marchroutes connected its distant corners. Nevertheless, the main hero of this series is the city.

Many painters and graphic artists dedicated their works to Belarusian capital. This is why Vladimir Sharkov dreamt of creating his album “Minsk as viewed by painters” long ago. The project is being delayed not only because of material nuances. Many technical problems can arise during its realization. A picture, an engraving, a drawing can’t always be “transferred” to the album page without losing quality by poligraphic means. Size reduction can play a low-down trick. How this or that work will look like, for example, as a post card? He asked himself this question. In the middle of the 90’s Sharkov, dreaming about a future album, started experiments: he issued post cards with his own pictures and lithographies. This is how in book stores the “Golden series. Minsk” appeared. Then one more — “My white city”. The painter decided to go further. This time he reduced the size one more time... Finally pocket calendars were issued. Again several series. Attention of Minsk citizens and the guests of the city was especially attracted by the series stylized as old photos — a little bit yellowed, with rounded corners. On the background of calendars with cats and dogs such series with the views of the old city looked very advantageous.

Both on post cards and calendars there is the painter’s e-mail near his surname. In the result Vladimir Sharkov received messages from different cities and countries. Those people wrote, who lived in the Belarusian capital some time ago or were passing it, and also collectors. Having a post card or a calendar with the view of Minsk, they asked the author to send them another exemplars of this series. He couldn’t but answer the letters with a quivering confession in love to his native city...

Nina Morova
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