By Victor Mikhailov
Many of today’s eminent Belarusian artists consider it an honour to have called him their teacher; many more see him as a national art legend. Mr. Tsvirko’s star rose brightly on the horizon, leaving a legacy sought after by collectors and state museums. Undoubtedly, his mid-March anniversary exhibition, at the National Art Museum, will draw large crowds, featuring works from the Belarusian Union of Artists and from Mr. Tsvirko’s family.
He was born on February 14th, 1913, in the village of Radeevo in the Rogachev District (now, the Gomel Region’s Buda-Koshelevo District) to a family of rural teachers. Probably, Fate itself determined that Vitaly Tsvirko should become an artist, so many factors were conducive to this path: his parents’ home enjoyed a creative atmosphere, while interesting people often visited; his father’s library was filled with books; and, of course, he met some extraordinary artists, who influenced his creative growth through their professionalism and world outlook.
Vitaly Tsvirko tried to take the best from each of his outstanding teachers and, even as a student, found his own identity quite clearly, giving his portrayal of the world, through the prism of his soul. Each rich experience from those years shaped his artistic creativity and his own teaching style. He soon found that landscapes were the genre best suited to his talent. His canvases reveal the beauty and essence of Belarusian nature and offer philosophical contemplation.
In truth, landscape painting can be divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’ Mr. Tsvirko; he can deservedly be called an innovator and pioneer in creating the epic and lyrical landscape genre — previously unknown in Belarusian art.
Mr. Tsvirko’s works are held by the National Art Museum, the Belarusian Union of Artists, by Minsk’s Modern Fine Arts Gallery and by the State Museum of Great Patriotic War History. They are found in various local history museums in Belarus and grace the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and other museums in the Russian Federation, as well as private collections in Belarus and abroad. The collection of Tsvirko’s pictures at the National Art Museum is viewed as one of the largest worldwide.
Marking the 100th anniversary of his birth, the National Art Museum has planned a number of events. On 14th February, a specially franked envelope was released to celebrate the great artist’s contribution (organised jointly by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Communication, Belpochta, Belarus Publishing House and the Belarusian Union of Artists). Meanwhile, a book was launched detailing his life and works: Vitaly Tsvirko, by Natalia Selitskaya (part of the Famous Artists of Belarus series). His Pripyat. Spring (1966) also went on show in a grand ‘solo’ exhibition. In addition, students of art school # 1 in Minsk (named after the famous painter) created their own works inspired by Mr. Tsvirko’s Kalozha (1969).
The Director General of the National Art Museum, Vladimir Prokoptsov, attended the recent anniversary celebration, joined by Deputy Culture Minister Tadeush Struzhetsky. Other guests included People’s Artist of Belarus Georgy Poplavsky, the Director of the Belarus Publishing House, Anna Trusevich, National Art Museum senior research associate, author and compiler of the book Natalia Selitskaya and Vitaly Tsvirko’s daughter Tatiana.