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Suite No. 45 exhibition of Belarusian famous sculptor and graphic artist Alexander (Sasha) Shappo is held at the National Art Museum

Argute but melodious suite

Suite No. 45 exhibition of Belarusian famous sculptor and graphic artist Alexander (Sasha) Shappo is held at the National Art Museum
Suite No. 45 exhibition of Belarusian famous sculptor and graphic artist Alexander (Sasha) Shappo is held at the National Art Museum

Suite No.45 sums up the results of master’s creative stage

On display are 30 lithographs and 20 sculptures that the author created within the past 18 years. Some of the exhibits have been already showcased in Belarus and abroad, and some are shown for the first time.

Suite No. 45 is in a way a ‘concluding statement’ of the master’s another artistic period. Although still quite young — he’s only 45 years old — the artist has a rich biography. Sasha Shappo’s works are well-known not only in Belarus, but in many countries abroad, too. In 2008, he was awarded a prize at the prestigious 7th Kochi International Triennial Exhibition of Prints (Japan). Shappo’s sculptures decorate streets of Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian cities.

Sasha Shappo is an artist-philosopher who touches upon the underlying issues of existence that often don’t have straightforward answers. Perfectly skilled, a genuine aesthete, he treats art as the ‘matter of deepest humaneness and a heart’s and soul’s purity probe’. His artistic thinking is based on the heritage of such masters as Ernst Barlach, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Alfons Mucha, Ernst Fuchs, Egon Schiele. A human being, his inner nature, the spiritual and emotional, were the core object of interest in their works.

Continuing traditions of his great predecessors, Sasha Shappo found an expressive figural language to convey his thoughts in both graphics and sculpture. His personal feelings are tightly bonded with his self-reflection in art. The master says that sculpture is his life, while graphics is his soul. Although his art is often erotic and sensual with revealing plots at times, Sasha Shappo denies physiological naturalism. A symbolist and romantic to a certain degree, he creates women’s images whose spirituality is so great that their naked figures don’t disturb viewers’ senses, but on the contrary, prompts them towards philosophical perception of the theme. In general, Sasha Shappo’s art harmoniously combines such opposite principles as sensuality and contemplation, grotesque and symbolism, humour and philosophy.

The epigraph of this exhibition is a citation from the Old Testament’s Song of Songs, ‘Love is strong as death’. The author confesses, that Suite No. 45 has been dedicated to his wife Ksenia — his muse, the mother of their children, a friend and associate. Woman is reflected in his works as a unique creature able to give birth. A plethora of images in his artworks reflect personal feelings related to their family relations, their common and individual emotions — all that is called love.

Sasha Shappo says, “In realising existence, the issues of love and non-existence are the core ones. At all times, an equal mark has been put between these two fundamental notions, which is confirmed by various myths and beliefs. Perhaps, there’s no other metrics for love in a human’s life, but death. They make equal the rich and the poor, the kind and the ill-tempered, they can be each other’s cause and consequence. In this equality, love and death mutually reveal each other’s and the life’s sense. Thus, love stretches beyond the boundaries of death, and life without love might turn into death, death can be a payment for love. In our modern world which is being torn apart with contradictions, relying on this all-victorious force is so desirable.”

Visitors of Suite No. 45 will encounter multi-dimensional humans’ world as the artist understands it. A human being is portrayed in Sasha Shappo’s artworks as a dual-nature creature — material, earthly and spiritual and lofty. Images depicted in his works represent ‘outer person’, ‘inner person’, ‘person who can feel’ and ‘person who can think’.

Sasha Shappo’s works’ meaningful layers are never-ending just as never-ending is the meaning of the multi-faced realm of artistic reality. The author has a huge artistic potential, and it seems that he’s just matured as a creator and keeps gaining strength to produce totally new original artworks.

The National Art Museum invites you to spend an evening with Alexander Shappo — a rare chance to view the exhibition and hear its story firsthand, from the author. Alexander Shappo will tell about the Suite conception, who is depicted in his lithographs and what meaningful codes are hidden in each artwork. Meeting with the artist will take place weekly during the exhibition’s operation.

By Veniamin Mikheev
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