Self-sacrifice, bravery and acts of valour surely inspire bright artistic depiction

On June 22nd, 1941, Belarus was at the epicentre of WW2 military events

National Art Museum of Belarus is hosting exhibitions dedicated to 70th anniversary of Great Victory
On June 22nd, 1941, Belarus was at the epicentre of WW2 military events. By late August of the same year, the Republic’s territory was under full German occupation. However, by 1942, the Central and Belarusian headquarters of the partisan movement had been established at the Supreme High Command General Headquarters. Belarus became known as a ‘partisan republic’ and was freed from its Fascist occupation following the ‘rail war’ and Operation Bagration, of June-July 1944.

National Art Museum of Belarus is hosting exhibitions dedicated to 70th anniversary of Great Victory

The history of Belarusian art is closely connected with those military events: some artists went to the frontline; others were evacuated; and some stayed in occupied territory and joined the partisan movement. The pre-war collection of the State Picture Gallery (on which the National Art Museum was later founded) failed to be evacuated, resulting in most artefacts being stolen or destroyed during bombing and fires.

Despite terrible conditions, Belarusian artists continued to work during the war, making small sketches and posters, including portraits and caricatures. After Belarus’ liberation, artists toured sites of military action, drawing war heroes.

My Birth, by People’s Artist of Belarus Leonid Shchemelev, dedicated to war theme

The war theme began to flourish in Belarusian art in the late 1940s, continuing until the 1970s. The present show features paintings, graphical and sculptural pieces, as well as works of decorative-and-applied art dedicated to the defence of Brest Fortress, Minsk’s liberation, and the partisans and USSR heroes who died during the Great Patriotic War. Among the latter are Uncle Minay (Minay Shmyrev), Nikolay Gastello, Lev Dovator, Alexey Danukalov, Konstantin Zaslonov, Piotr Kalinin, Piotr Kupriyanov, Yelena Mazanik, Mikhail Silnitsky and Grandfather Talash (Vasil Talash): their deeds inspired artists, composers, scriptwriters and cinema directors.

The War and Victory in 20th Century Art exhibition features over 60 works, created between 1943 and 1985, devoted to wartime events and the Great Victory. On show are works by People’s Artists of Belarus Zair Azgur, Anatoly Anikeichik, Ivan Akhremchik, Andrey Bembel, Gavriil Vashchenko, Valentin Volkov, Alexey Glebov, Victor Gromyko, Alexander Grube, LevGumilevsky, Mai Dantsig, Yevgeny Zaitsev, Arlen Kashkurevich, Raisa Kudrevich, Pavel Maslenikov, Georgy Poplavsky, Mikhail Savitsky, Sergey Selikhanov, Vladimir Stelmashonok, Vitaly Tsvirko, Vasily Sharangovich and Leonid Shchemelev. In addition, the show features works by Belarusian painters never before exhibited permanently: Leonid Osedovsky, Piotr Danelia, Abram Krol, Eduard Kufko, Sofia Li, Boris Nepomnyashchy, Valentin Savitsky, Boris Uss, Vladimir Khrustalev and Yevgeny Tikhonovich.

enres vary, including portraits, landscapes and thematic works, including allegorical and metaphorical compositions. All are united in conveying the great emotions and drama of those tragic times: Leonid Osedovsky’s Mother’s Ballad, Vitaly Tsvirko’s Unbroken, Yevgeny Zaitsev’s Standing to Death, Olgerd Malishevsky’s We’ll be Back, Natan Voronov’s Cherishing the Memory of Comrades-in-Arms, Nikolay Zalozny’s Poppies, Israil Basov’s Recollection, Mikhail Savitsky’s Vitebsk Gates and Partisan Madonna, Victor Gromyko’s 1941: Over Pripyat, Leonid Shchemelev’s My Birth, Gavriil Vashchenko’s Breakthrough, Ivan Rei’s Thank You, Mother, and Vasily Sumarev’s Partisans’ Song.

Their depictions of that terrible war are acutely personal. The best reside at the National Art Museum, making it an obvious choice to open another major exhibition of 1940s-1980s Belarusian art: over 60 paints, graphic works and sculptures dedicated to the Great Patriotic War, created by those who experienced conflict and those of the post-war generation: among them Portrait of Nikolay Gastello by Andrey Bembel (1905-1986), The Defence of the Brest Fortress by Ivan Akhremchik (1903-1971), Minsk. July 3rd, 1944 by Valentin Volkov (1881-1964), Partisan Madonna by Mikhail Savitsky (1922-2010), Over the Pripyat by Victor Gromyko (1923), Thirst by Arlen Kashkurevich (1929-2013), and Still-life with Tulips by Leonid Shchemelev (1923). Those created during the Great Patriotic War are of special pride.

The show will be open for a year and, no doubt, will attract many art lovers, rousing us with those wonderful depictions of bravery and self-sacrifice and suitably marking the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory.

By Victor Mikhailov
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