Pictures that are windows, through which we view the past

Our Collections project at National Art Museum showcases works by Belarusian painters, celebrating their jubilees in 2015

The River of Time exhibition displays around 100 paintings, graphic art works, sculptures and decorative-and-applied arts, by over 60 artists. Such group exhibitions have become a tradition at the museum, being organised since 2008. This is already the ninth and, in some years, several such exhibitions have been held within a single season.

River of Time exhibition, at National Art Museum, displays around a hundred works by over sixty painters

The event allows us to learn about some artists lesser known, as well as those famous for their aesthetically and historically insightful works. All will return to the museum’s depository after the exhibition. Some works are obviously the result of greater skill than others, but each presents a certain vision of its time, the world, and wider philosophies.

The exhibition mainly includes works from the 1950s-1980s, the time of Soviet and late-Soviet (‘classical’ art). It shows not only individual characteristics but the evolution of ideological and expressive features from 20th century art.

M. Sevruk’s At the Haymaking, 1953

Most of those whose works are on show are known to Belarusian lovers of national art, being members of the Belarusian Union of Artists. However, some lived and worked in other countries: M. Aisenstadt and V. Rutsai lived in Moscow, for example.

Yanislav Volokita and Vladimir Guletsky are lesser known, the former having created illustrations of a narrative and emotional character (kept only in the country’s major museum in Minsk). It’s thought that Minsk office clerk Albert Pavlovich, who was a writer and author, used the pseudonym.

A. Gugel’s Teenagers at the River, 1953

Vladimir Guletsky was born in Vileika, but lived most of his life in Siberia, moving finally to Rostov-on-Don. Some of his works came to the museum from a post-war exhibition of Belarusian art, which opened in Moscow in 1944 and in Minsk in 1945. During the war years, he served in the central headquarters of the partisan movement.

A. Kotov’s Long-livers of Zaslavl Land, 1980

Works are being presented in a variety of ways, with some significant pieces taken from the permanent exhibition of Belarusian art on display in the new museum building: works by S. Kovrovsky, M. Aisenstadt, M. Sevruk, A. Bembel, A. Gugel and N. Zalozny.

Works from this period seem contained in their own ‘time capsule’ yet retain spiritual and material significance. They are windows through which we view other worlds and times, feelings and expectations. They offer universal chords of resonance.

By Veniamin Mikheev
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