On first seeing Yelena, I notice her delicate perfume. Her painting technique is also delicate, like lace, interweaving soft, warm colours: opaline rose and white-silver lily. She uses soft, textural patterns, smooth lines and blurred effects, with thick strokes, like the cream on a cake. Her landscapes and still-life works are alive.
Yelena Baranovskaya is an artist, and teaches at the gymnasium-college of arts (named after I. O. Akhremchik). She is the daughter of People’s Artist of Belarus Anatoly Baranovsky, who introduced her to painting.
She tells us, “My father taught me his creative secrets. Meanwhile, my grandmother was a lace-maker, making beautiful lace works shown at exhibitions. Maybe, I have the genetic code for being an artist.” It seems to be no coincidence that her style reminds me of lace...
Losk. View from the former ancient settlement. 2015
Yelena’s works have the same silence, peace and calm as those of her father, although with her own unique and recognisable style. She’s been exhibited at republican and international shows, and her works grace various private collections.
Softness, reticence, calm, silence...
Somewhere clouds slowly soar...
And with their gentle beauty unite
Shades and splashes of light.
“Much depends upon who is there to influence you. In this respect, it’s easier for me, because I’ve been surrounded by artists,” says Yelena. Her father was her first art teacher and still supports Yelena, in life and creativity. Her canvases have their own harmony, gentle and charming: the feminine face of art. Some say that a woman only remains feminine while men are nearby to appreciate her efforts but who knows if this is true.
Last snow. 2013
Yelena’s husband, Vitaly Gerasimov, is a professor of painting at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. His works are more expansive and expressive, making a pleasing foil to his wife’s canvases at joint exhibitions: as ‘wine and milk’. Aren’t such mutual understandings the foundation of a contented marriage?
As though everyone wears their own glasses
And lives without recognising life.
All around is so bright, transient,
You search for harmony...
Yelena and Vitaly’s son holds an award from the Special Fund of the President of Belarus for talented young people. Gleb Gerasimov and his wife have also devoted their lives to painting, and also teach at the same gymnasium-college. Gleb’s works are theatrical, inviting an audience, showing a distinct figure in each background crowd, as if to whom the picture is dedicated.
Where are we?
As if a spectator has been caught in a picture:
A thoughtful hero.
Full of rapidity,
A white note.
It’s amazing how each family member has managed to preserve his or her voice. Maybe, this is also a credit to Yelena.
Yelena paints Belarus’ places of tranquillity, in which harmony dwells, and fresh air, with fluffy clouds above. She pulls early spring from a dream and dresses it in ochre and pale blue tones, as well as shades of yellow and crimson.
“I paint mainly landscapes and still-life works, with nature as my major source of emotional inspiration. There’s no need for me to travel, as all that I need is nearby. Artist differs from other people in being able to notice things,” Yelena tells us.
Perusing her pictures for a few minutes, you can feel the reality of her vision, with its elements of freedom and silence, and secret happiness. There is no conflict in her clouds, which harmoniously co-exist with sharp, swinging grass. There is no sadness in her palette; rather, she shows us the oft-ignored beauty of the transitional state of nature.
One of Yelena’s still-life works depicts small opaline-crimson roses in a blue vase, tied with a yellow ribbon, reminding us of the energy of a quiet, light holiday, such as Women’s Day. Entitled Recollection, its shades of green, blue and yellow are bathed in sunlight. It recalls days of celebration, when people give roses and smiles.
These artists have a rare gift: being able to transfer their professional secrets, training others. Anatoly Baranovsky taught for many years at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts, educating several generations of artists. Graduates of Vitaly Gerasimov are notable among their contemporaries, for their unique manner and strong character. Pupils of Gleb Gerasimov and Veronika Gerasimova also successfully participate in republican and international art competitions and exhibitions.
Yelena seems to have a special pedagogical talent. As her colleagues say, when she came to teach at the gymnasium-college, her group surprised everyone with the number and quality of their works. Even a boy who had arrived from a village and never studied art before organised several personal exhibitions by the end of his time. The secret is simple. Yelena inspired her pupils with her own endeavour and reaching for perfection. Her own pupils’ works are exhibited beside her own, giving her the highest pride.
On the hot summer day I waited for Yelena Baranovskaya, on the ground floor of the gymnasium-college, looking out of the window, I observed her outdoor lesson with first-year students. Her fluid movements and kind smile show her to be restrained and gentle. She seems inspired by the process of creation, helping her students with suggestions, approaching first one and then the next, in a certain trajectory, as a sunbeam wanders over the surfaces of crystal and of sculptures, illuminating them with its radiant touch.
By Olga Ropot