Symbol of Memory as Symbol of Hope

Anatoly Kleschuk’s photo exhibition “Pain Abates Slowly” timed to the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident is taking place in the National Art Museum
The artistic and documentary exhibition of Anatoly Kleschuk “Pain Abates Slowly” timed to the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster has opened in the National Art Museum of Belarus and is to last until April 30. The exposition includes about 50 black and white pictures of younger victims of Chernobyl — the sick children. The consequences of the disaster, not only social, economic and ecological, but also spiritual, are felt even now, twenty years later. The echo of Chernobyl will remain in the air for years and decades, and this is why the dramatic fate of the rebellious “peaceful atom” needs to be remembered. The photos of the master reflect the moments of life, grief and sufferings of the young Chernobyl victims, their hopes and vital force of mother love.

The photos of Anatoly Kleschuk are dedicated to the noblest objective of art — to remember the past and look into the future, the director of the National Art Museum, Vladimir Prokoptsov, said during the opening ceremony. “This exhibition will leave no indifferent viewers, because it touches upon Chernobyl Children, a very topical issue,” said Vladimir Chernikov, the first deputy chairman of the Chernobyl Committee with the Council of Ministers.

The photos express the civil position of the photo artist, his awareness, ability to understand, sympathize and take someone else’s trouble as if it were his own. His photos are filled with the pain all Chernobyl children, mothers and fathers had to go through, they mark the path Belarus had to take to overcome the aftermath of the catastrophe. When pain eases, hope comes…

“I want my viewers to see not only the eyes of children, who are no children anymore, the faces of mothers, but the fate of all Belarusians that suffered from Chernobyl,” Anatoly Kleschuk said. “I want you to see the feat of love and dignity in sufferings that is so typical of Belarusians.”

The master has been taking pictures of sick children for over 15 years. Most of the photos were taken in the Republican children’s scientific and research center of oncology and hematology. Some of the kids from the pictures have passed away, but many have been treated and have children of their own. The “double” portraits of the photo artist symbolize memory of those who left and hope for those who live.

Anatoly Kleschuk graduated from the journalism department of Belarusian State University. He has been working as a press photographer since 1985. The newspaper “Zvyazda” employed him back in 1993. Kleschuk has taken part in numerous contests and exhibitions, his “majors” being the Chernobyl disaster and Holocaust. His photos (and personal exhibitions) were showcased in various countries: five times in Germany, four times in the U.S., twice in Russia and Lithuania, and also in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Poland, Switzerland, and Japan. The Chernobyl-related photos were presented in the United Nations in New York, in the League of Nations Palace in Geneva, in the European Parliament in Brussels, at the Europressphoto in Vilnius and Istanbul.

After the exhibition “Pain Abates Slowly” in the National Art Museum, organized with the assistance of the UNDP, the collection will be showcased in other Belarusian cities and abroad.
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