Renewed mansion acquires new lease of life as art gallery
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko opens Art Gallery of People’s Artist of Belarus Mikhail Savitsky, in 18th century building chosen by the artist himself, in Minsk
By Tatiana Pasenkevich
Located at 15 Svobody Square (in the Upper Town), the building was erected in the 18th century. This former mansion was chosen to house the gallery by the artist, with premises rebuilt for dual-use as a museum and art gallery; it has an exhibition to highlight the history of the building.
Four rooms on the ground floor have been restored as small and large parlours, a study and a library. Miklhail Savitsky’s art occupies nine rooms on the first floor and on the second, comprising works bought from the artist and those lent by his family and Belarusian museums. The gallery showcases replica interiors of Mr. Savitsky’s workshop and study as well as his personal belongings, awards, photos, letters, signed books and other exhibits. A total of 98 works by the painter are on display.
Mr. Lukashenko visited every room and was pleased with the work achieved. He felt sympathy with the artist, chatting to him many times, as well as with other Belarusian artists and Mr. Savitsky’s pupils. He believes their works should be on display at the gallery also. Famous Belarusian artist Igor Barkhatkov (Mr. Savitsky’s pupil) presented a picture featuring a Belarusian summer landscape to Mr. Lukashenko.
In memory of his visit to the gallery, the President left a note in the distinguished visitors’ book. It reads: ‘With a feeling of special agitation, I visited the gallery of Mikhail Savitsky — a man whom I know well and respect greatly and whose vision is internationally recognised. May this gallery of works by this prominent son of Belarus — open in Minsk today — serve to spiritually enrich people, filling their hearts with pride for our talented nation that has bestowed mankind with this Master’.
Mikhail Savitsky is a Hero of Belarus, a USSR People’s Artist, a Belarusian People’s Artist, an honoured citizen of Minsk, a corresponding member of the USSR Art Academy, and a laureate of the USSR State Award and the BSSR State Award. During the Great Patriotic War, aged 20, he fought in the battle for Sevastopol but was captured and sent to a concentration camp in Dusseldorf before being moved to camps in Buchenwald and Dachau. His memories are reflected in his legacy of over 170 works. Figures on the Heart — a series of 16 pictures — is dedicated to concentration camp prisoners and is a unique masterpiece in its complexity and scale.