By Victor Mikhailov
The holding of an exhibition is always a matter of anxiety for its organisers and author, with the former wondering how many visitors will attend and the artist worrying how they’ll be received by the public. Both aspects are important.
In fact, this was Leonid Dudarenko’s second exhibition at the National Art Museum in just over a year. Last May, it hosted his personal exhibition while this year’s event is dedicated to his 80th birthday. Both events were attended by crowds of visitors taking a lively interest in his works, where the spirit of the whole age was reflected realistically, brightly and expressively. It may sound pompous, but I can find no other suitable words to assess his portrayal of life some 50, 60 and more years ago.
He is a truly Belarusian painter, having received knowledge and professional training at Minsk’s Art College and at the Belarusian Theatre and Art Institute (now, the Belarusian Academy of Arts). He studied under famous masters of Belarusian painting, who helped him make a name for himself as an artist, boasting his own original style.
Undoubtedly, Leonid Dudarenko is a deeply patriotic painter, having inherited all that is best from his teachers and colleagues during his studies and years of independent work. He also managed to apply a creative approach to the traditional methods of the national painting school, boldly experimenting in pictorial art — primarily, using the widest opportunities of the colour palette.
He reached professional maturity during Soviet times, travelling the whole Soviet Union, visiting Sakhalin Island, Vladivostok, Siberia, the Far North, Georgia and Turkmenistan. All are vividly depicted in his works. He loved nature and his adoration resulted in plenty of landscapes — on canvases and cardboard. Mr. Dudarenko’s landscapes are poetic and emotional, showing his passion for Earth’s beauty. He created his pictures under the influence of his immediate impressions, which helped him capture the tinniest nuances: the mighty depth of a blue sky or a remote forest, endless rye fields or the dappled river’s surface. He had his own picturesque ‘language’, enabling him to preserve his creative individuality. Being ‘young at heart’ enables Mr. Dudarenko to remain as he is, with no need to adjust to fashionable trends in art.
Of course, like any artist with such great life experience, Mr. Dudarenko couldn’t avoid the heroes of his time in his masterpieces. He drew the expressive features of ordinary people while his portraits of our contemporaries are primarily interesting in being realistic. The exhibition’s images are united by optimism, honesty and human warmth. Looking at his artworks, you clearly feel his talent to penetrate deep into one’s soul, while being able to express character and mood. These pictures maybe a half century old but they remain enchanting.
Mr. Dudarenko still works a great deal, usually at his studio, which possesses its own character. He isn’t one to sit still for long in one place and now draws inspiration from his native Belarusian landscapes. He often takes part in travelling plain air workshops and is still interested by people. He finds communication with them a ‘breeding medium’, which helps him ground himself better in the present, feeling its pulse.
The event at the National Art Museum combines pieces created over various years, which clearly show the painter’s rich creative path. On show are pictures from Mr. Dudarenko’s personal collection, as well as those belonging to the Belarusian Union of Artists, the Modern Fine Arts Museum and the National Art Museum. Some are well known; others are recently painted. Importantly, Mr. Dudarenko’s creative treasury continues to grow and we have no doubt that new pictures will appear, forming a further artistic collection for future presentation.