Town Hall by candlelight — it is original

On the eve of the exhibition opening in Vitebsk, Vladimir Prokoptsov organised an unusual ‘inflammatory’ performance in the centre of the city

On the eve of the exhibition opening in Vitebsk, Vladimir Prokoptsov organised an unusual ‘inflammatory’ performance in the centre of the city
By Sergey Golesnik

On the eve of the exhibition opening in Vitebsk, Vladimir Prokoptsov organised an unusual ‘inflammatory’ performance in the centre of the city

Near the building of the Town Hall, where the Vitebsk Regional Museum of Local History is located, there are always many people. Tourists, enamoured couples and mums with children come here. The ancient building looks especially beautiful in twilight, when the illumination is switched on. Recently, the already habitual radiance was augmented by the light of three candles which sat, somewhat precariously, on the wide-brimmed hat of an artist. This artist was the Director General of the National Art Museum of Belarus, Vladimir Prokoptsov, who arrived in Vitebsk from the capital to open his personal exhibition. The previous evening, he continued working near Town Hall on one of his canvases and any interested person could help him with his artistic endeavour. If anyone was frightened by the candles’ naked flame, a fireman, armed with a fire extinguisher, was on duty near the easel and was ready to extinguish it in case of any emergency situation. The artist admitted that the last thing he wanted was to start a fire and be compared to be Herostratus, especially in the city which he seriously considers his second native land.


Vladimir Prokoptsov’s performance was unusual and spectacular

“I am not only the director of the museum, but also an artist!” This is the way Vladimir Prokoptsov positions himself. “In the daytime I have little time, therefore I have to work with easel and paints in the evenings.” Last year, Vladimir Ivanovich turned 60. Since then he has travelled across the country with his anniversary tour. Exhibitions have been already held in Lepel, Dobrush and Svetlogorsk. The artist, who born in the Gomel Region, did not chose Vitebsk for his next exhibition casually. 40 years ago, he finished at the Art and Graphic Department of the Vitebsk State Pedagogical Institute. His personal exhibition, Strings of Space and Time, consisting of 23 pictures, opened in the regional library and according to Prokoptsov it is the original artistic report before the city where he spent his student years. “Vitebsk is my second native land. This city possesses a remarkable creative aura and still gives me powerful spiritual replenishment. Here we learnt drawing and dreamt to become as well-known as Marc Chagall. My teachers and friends live here. These are Professors Vyacheslav Shamshur and Yelena Zhukova, colleagues and artists Leonid Medvedsky, Oleg Skovorodko and many others. In the picture, My Vitebsk, which together with the townspeople I finished near the town hall, contains part of my great love to the regional centre. I do not exclude that, in the future, a whole series of pictures devoted to Vitebsk will appear in the future, which I will present to the city.”

Vladimir Prokoptsov has a picture, Vitebsk Dreams about Paris. It has something in common with Chagall’s, Walk over Vitebsk. But Chagall with Bella, fly over Vitebsk, while Prokoptsov, with his Muse, are on the moon, over Vitebsk and Paris simultaneously. Each time, he comes to Vitebsk, Vladimir Ivanovich worries that he will not see the city of his youth, “The well-known ‘blue house’, depicted in the pictures of the famous water-colourist, Felix Gumen, was unfortunately repainted white. It was an original, colourful and dominant building, now it has disappeared into the background. Fortunately, perhaps, it is the only disappointment. In other respects, Vitebsk blossoms. It is pleasant to see, for example, the majestic, restored churches.”

The presentation of the Boris Krepak book, Quadriga of Life, took place during opening of the exhibition in the regional library. It is the narrative of the writer, and also material he collected from art critics about Prokoptsov. These materials contain information about his study at the Art and Graphic Department. So Vitebsk of Prokoptsov, Vitebsk of the 70s, which was experiencing an artistic renaissance, will remain, for a long time, engraved in the memory. In the printed word and on canvas, written in oil. One such canvas is My Vitebsk, where City Hall in the evening is depicted, a blossoming chestnut tree and the artist in a wide-brimmed hat with burning candles…

Even foreign amateur artists can get acquainted Prokoptsov’s paintings as he has already received offers to organise exhibitions in Hungary and Serbia next year.
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