"I was born twice here in Pokrovskaya street." "Right when I was born, fire emerged in a little house by the road near jailhouse in Vitebsk outskirts. The whole town was blazed, including poor Jew neighborhood. The mother and the baby were brought to a safe place right with the bed." These are quotations from Mark Shagal′s autobiographic book "My Life", which illustrate his etchings "Pokrovskaya Street" and "Fire in town" created in Berlin in 1922. Knowing modern Vitebsk and Pokrovskaya street where Mark Shagal museum is situated, I was wondering how the artist viewed his native town, which he left forever in 1920Ў
A wagon trailing down the paved street with small houses along it, some strange man with a pottle running before the wagonЎ Dreadful clouds of smoke rising over the town. The crowd is rushing about, people are weaving hands. Four men are carrying a bed with a woman with a baby in it. The etchings are black and white, yet they are so expressive and even mischievous, tailored with so much mastery, that emotions compensate absence of color for the viewer. Your imagination itself begins to play all colors.
Recent years Mark Shagal museum in Vitebsk has been actively cooperating with Embassy of France to Belarus. This friendly connection resulted in Shagal exhibits organized biannually in Minsk and Vitebsk. The latest exhibition "Mark Shagal and theater" took place last year. Thus there was nothing to expect this year butЎ The initiative was set forth by embassy of Germany to Belarus. As Jan Kantorchik, temporary charge d′affaires of German Federal Republic in our country said, today Shagal is one of most prominent and favorite painters for the German. Thus the diplomats wished to cast light upon links of the artist with Germany.
Tamara Karandasheva, supervisor of the exhibition and research officer at National art museum of Belarus, says: "The main theme of this exposition is focused on Berlin period of Mark Shagal′s creative work. The focal point of the exposition belongs to 26 fine prints made in Berlin in 1922-1923. Among them there are 20 etchings from Mark Shagal′s autobiographic book "My Life".
"Drawings, gouache paints. Etchings and books displayed in Vitebsk are tremendously valuable," thinks Liudmila Hmelnitskaya, director of Mark Shagal museum. "They are a real gift for true judges of Shagal′s works, a pure treasure."
Isaac′s matchmaking, Abraham′s apology, Noah′s ark, prophet Elijah — these are the themes of Shagal′s stained windows in St. Stephen church in Mainz, Germany. All windows with total area of about 400 square meters were created in Jacques Simon′s studio in Reims from 1976 to 1985. You may ask: "What is the link between Mainz stained glasses and Belarus?" The answer is: "It′s a most immediate link." Photo reproductions of these windows are the first things that visitors to art center see; the copies dip you into the inimitable artistic world of their author and tune viewer for perception of the whole exposition.
Let?s return to the French portion of the project. 9 books with author′s etchings and lithographs by Shagal are displayed in for the first time Belarus. According to art critics, well known poem by N.V. Gogol published in Paris in 1948 is of special interest here. The book is opened at title page where the author and the title are indicated in French, with an illustration by Shagal next to them: we see Chichikov just came to some borough, his coachman is holding horses, and the nearby building is bedecked with a Russian placard: "Traktir".
The exhibition is supplemented with a catalogue of 68 copies of Shagal′s pieces and articles by Belarusian and foreign researchers.