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Teacher always generous to his pupils

Recent exhibition at National Art Museum confirms Sergey Katkov as bright and undoubtedly expressive example of mid-20th century Belarusian fine arts
By Victor Mikhailov

The recent exhibition, devoted to the work of talented painter Sergey Katkov, was full of worthy exhibits. Among them were wonderful landscapes, city silhouettes and amazingly colourful and diverse plots. The show attracted many of Mr. Katkov’s friends and pupils. 

As a teacher, Sergey Katkov followed landscape realistic traditions. He connected his life with Minsk, becoming a teacher of several generations of Belarusian artists. He fought in WWII and helped dozens of young people find their path via Minsk’s Palace of Pioneers and Schoolchildren, Minsk’s Art School and the Republican Music and Fine Art Boarding School. Among them were prominent figures of Belarusian art: people’s artists Mai Dantsig, Vladimir Stelmashonok and Vladimir Tovstik and Honoured Figures of Arts Vasily Sumarev, Ninel Schastnaya, Zoya Litvinova and Svetlana Katkova.

Sergey Katkovwas an exceptional, unique figure of 20th century Belarusian art, inspiring others with his lively innovation. He banished dogma and stagnant obstacles in his courageous experimentation, unafraid of difficulties. Having participated in the war, he created several series of this theme, including On the Way to Konigsberg and Border of Eastern Prussia and Manchuria. He valued his peaceful life, drawing on this to offer his own reflections, while also finding inspiration from innovative late 19th century French painting. He transferred its achievements into the creation of emotional Belarusian landscapes, depicting the diverse corners of our land in his own way. He was an eminent master of both city and country landscapes, on a small and large scale, drawing rivers and lakes as well as city districts. His works retain the living pulse of the 1950-1970s.

During the mature period of his work, he created his best large scale works devoted to the topic of harvest and fertility. The course of time has revealed the great heritage left by this modest, industrious and talented artist, whose creative mood fascinates audiences even now.

The exhibition showcases 80 works from Belarus’ National Art Museum, including those by the artist’s daughter, Svetlana Katkova, and by Mr. Katkov’s pupils — from private collections. Children’s pictures painted by Mr. Katkov’s pupils in the 1960s, at Minsk’s Palace of Pioneers and Schoolchildren, occupy a special place at the show. These show the youngsters’ unique view of the world, while demonstrating the teaching methods of Mr. Katkov (who headed the studio for some time). Each bears the mark of his inspiration and experience.
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