Bronze violin still playing

A sculptor Zair Azgur was grand, artistic and monumental during his long life

A writer, a sculptor and a photographer were returning to Minsk from the suburbs. On reaching a beautiful viewpoint, they stopped to take a rest. Photographer Yevgeny Koktysh suggested that Zair Azgur stand on a hill. The resulting photo showed sky, river, a tall pine and the sculptor — almost as if he was a monument himself.

Mr. Azgur was grand, artistic and monumental during his long life

Zair Azgur lived a long and happy life, receiving many awards and titles. He was responsible for numerous monuments and made hundreds of sculptural portraits of his contemporaries. Many of his monuments have since been dismantled. When Mr. Azgur produced his sculpture in memory of the People’s Poet, Yakub Kolas, we were extremely grateful. The sculptor realised that Belarus is a land of folk artists. This monument, lacking any hint of formality or propaganda became his signature piece. When dating, young people often meet by the monument which is sometimes called ‘the boot’. Everyone knows what this means and that it is in Yakub Kolas Square, named after him. There is always someone waiting here, whatever the weather. The great poet looks down on the young with an understanding gaze and a book on his knees. His Symon the Musician plays a bronze violin nearby. The children and grandchildren of those who used to meet here many years ago still gather on the square now with phones and laptops in their hands. The bronze violin continues playing and the poet thoughtfully watches life passing by.

This monument to the poet and his literary colleagues once struck me as being cold and even arty. I now see it as majestic and one of the best monuments in Minsk. After the bronze Yakub Kolas was erected in the capital, a monument to Yanka Kupala was opened, in addition to a fountain decorated with nudes alongside a thoughtful Maxim Bogdanovich. Mr. Azgur was grand, artistic and monumental during his long life, characteristics also seen in Yevgeny Koktysh’s photo.

By Vladimir Stepan
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