More striking interaction between artists and audiences

Works by over 120 modern Belarusian artists showcased as part of the 4th Biennale of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts — Formazmest-703 — held in Minsk

Works by over 120 modern Belarusian artists showcased as part of the 4th Biennale of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts — Formazmest-703 — held in Minsk

As is traditional, the exhibition was hosted by Minsk’s Palace of Arts, enabling visitors to see over 500 pictures and sculptures, occupying four exhibition halls. The Belarusian biennale offered a chance to see new achievements in Belarusian art, by 120 modern artists, in an atmosphere of music.

Much to see at 4th Biennale of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts


Visitors were able to vote for their favourite works across three nominations: ‘Sculpture’, ‘Painting’ and ‘Graphics’. This time, the biennale united works created by contemporary Belarusian authors over the past two years; its title of Formazmest-703 represented 703 days of modern living and change. Of course, artists are affected by events in the world around them, expressing their own reaction to humanity’s problems.

Belarus continues the biennale traditions of Venice, Florence, Shanghai and Istanbul, but Minsk’s event differs slightly from the international format in showing as many national art examples as possible. As a result, the biennale is an independent project, enabling visitors to widely get acquainted with Belarusian arts in all its manifestations while encouraging debate and the sharing of ideas.

With over 500 works on show, the four halls certainly represented the full range of modern Belarusian art forms, showing that our country has its own trends and flavour within the international stage, while following some the best global traditions of biennales in Venice, Shanghai and Istanbul, offering audiences a view of all that Belarus has to offer. Meanwhile, it should be underlined again that the concept of the Minsk biennale slightly differs from the international format, enabling spectators to better learn all forms of contemporary Belarusian arts.

Kaleidoscope of masterpieces at 4th Biennale of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts

Minsk’s project has taken the form of an open artistic laboratory. Really, each time is known for its own creativity and artistic personalities’ ideas are viewed as a routine. In turn, the path — chosen by public event organisers — is accepted as something unusual. However, this deserves special attention and respect.

This open artistic laboratory encourages creativity and individuality, with the four halls used for the 4th Biennale of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts — Formazmest-703 —officially opening the week beforehand for use as a studio, in which artists were encouraged to create ‘in situ’, while being watched by the public. Usually, artists like to work in privacy, so the novelty drew much interest. Meanwhile, the conditions allowed artists to work on a scale sometimes prohibitive, while chatting to fellow artists and the public.

To attract wider public to the exhibition and to teach some art related aspects, a special programme was planned for the first biennale week: master classes for children; musical performances; lectures of experts; and professional tours to help visitors understand concepts and trends. These greatly contributed to art lovers’ comprehension of the show’s unusual concept. Artists were assessed by a professional jury and the public — as planned by the organisers. Actually, the 4th biennale was aimed to break the endless circle inside the artistic community and to move closer towards active audience.
Painter Valentina Sventakhovskaya near Alexey Koktev’s picture

As the Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Artists, Rygor Sitnitsa, emphasises, there is usually a deficit of communication between audiences and artists, which the show aims to remedy. He, as well as other organisers of the current exhibition, is convinced that the biennale can become a stimulus for reaching a European level while inspiring future participants for European biennales.

Assessing works created over the past two years, Formazmest-703 awarded prizes for ‘Sculpture’, ‘Painting’ and ‘Graphics’, with winners voted by the public and the official jury. Each victor now has the chance to host a personal show.

Some might have been embarrassed with the recent event’s too bright expositions, wondering whether a correct method of works’ choice was applied. Some of the works on show were dazzlingly bright: quite unlike the sorts of pictures usually chosen for display. This time, no special curator was applied: an organisational committee operated instead. In addition, the exhibition lacked a clear concept and some visitors questioned the lack of a dedicated theme to the event but, of course, the show aimed primarily to demonstrate the development of modern Belarusian art, allowing entry by any member of the Belarusian Union of Artists. In fact, most of those taking part were young or middle-aged, rather than old masters. As the Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Artists, Rygor Sitnitsa noted, works were chosen on aesthetic principles, to ensure high professionalism and high morality. He also added that the exhibition was assessed by professionals with diverse artistic views, to help the jury achieve objectivity.

It’s now possible to assert that the concentrated idea of the recent forum was to promote art to a wider public. The artistic community — which continues the global biennale traditions — opened its doors to all lovers of post-modernism.

The show has actually proposed a bright visual attraction envisaging direct contact between artists and audiences. Unsurprisingly, the exhibition opening has been held in a spirit of ‘organised chaos’: some works were unsigned, or not fully unpacked and many sculptures stood on the floor. However, the showcased pieces enabled experts to make a clear conclusion. “After getting acquainted with the exhibited works, I can assert with sure that these are diverse forms of our modern Belarusian art,” said Mr. Sitnitsa in particular.

By Victor Mikhailov
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