Nature’s soul and voice revealed

Landscape painter Valery Shkarubo showcases his best pieces in Grodno, created over 25 years

By Viktar Korbut

An exhibition of Valery Shkarubo’s landscapes, depicting Belarusian nature, is on show at Grodno’s New Castle. It features 26 pictures by one of the best modern artists. However, Valery modestly denies his status, saying, “I just have some successful works.” In fact, Mr. Shkarubo’s style is unique, revealing the human psyche, while capturing images with a photographic approach. It seems that his pictures give us a ‘cardiogram’ of amazing nature, in all its glory and in delicate detail.

It’s perhaps no wonder that, for many years, Valery has been exhibiting his pictures in Belarus, Europe, Asia and America. Galleries and private collections in New York, Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Brussels and elsewhere house his drawings.

He chooses not to draw foreign landscapes, and admits this is probably because of his homesickness when away from Belarus. “I’m always keen to return home as quickly as possible. In Italy, I tried to draw landscapes but failed. The country was full of bright colours, which looked as if they were leaping onto the canvas themselves; I painted many sketches but transformed none of them into paintings. Those landscapes were not my own; they were Italian!”

He views late autumn as his favourite season. Valery always manages to depict this autumn-winter time when the first snow falls (as characteristic of Belarus) in a fairy tale manner.

Valery has a deep understanding of nature. His pictures are energetic and command attention — from professionals and laymen. Art critics have nothing but praise for him, as one online review testifies: ‘I’m sitting in the office. People are scurrying, talking, discussing projects, while telephones are ringing, faxes are buzzing, monitors are radiant and key buttons are cluttering. Work is in full swing and there is no time to stop and think of the eternal. However, it’s sometimes necessary to concentrate and simply breathe deeply. At such times, I turn my head and… plunge into a landscape. The picture might seem ordinary, depicting only nature (without people): grass bent in the wind and trees along the road… the sky grey, covered with rain clouds due to unburden themselves. I survey the picture and wait for the rain, like a child’.

Meanwhile, it sometimes takes a master a whole year to wait for the birth of a single picture. Valery tells us, “At least a year passes between my drawing a sketch of a landscape and painting a picture. Sketches await me in the workshop until the right moment arises and an old sketch ‘asks’ for attention. I then take it and begin drawing different outlines. These differ greatly, with winter perhaps substituted by autumn. Later, I compile my future picture from these small pieces — like a puzzle. My landscape is invented, being a collection of pieces. I draw my own sky, mood, trees and state. A picture is a ‘compound sentence’. The things I depict do not actually exist in reality. I deceive audiences. However, I must lie in a convincing manner, so that the audience believes that these very clouds were moving above the trees, reflected in this water.”

We can’t but believe this artist! It might seem that each scene is simple: a field covered with first snow, a road or bushes. Nevertheless, the artist unveils beauty which is rarely recognised, lifting the curtain to show us seemingly insignificant objects, which we might think lack a soul. Suddenly, the smallest elements gain a voice, whispering their secrets to us within a true masterpiece.

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