Vasiliy Yasiouk: AN ARTIST CANNOT DO WITHOUT A HEART

Obviously, the creative essence of an artist is determined by his or her artistic work. The contents of artistic work constitute this artist’s philosophy. Everybody wants to see how the artist looks like, listen how he or she speaks and what he or she has to say. Indeed, an artist is usually not a writer, but he or she also has a need to contemplate, discuss, establish his or her art-view, and sometimes even defend it
Obviously, the creative essence of an artist is determined by his or her artistic work. The contents of artistic work constitute this artist’s philosophy. Everybody wants to see how the artist looks like, listen how he or she speaks and what he or she has to say. Indeed, an artist is usually not a writer, but he or she also has a need to contemplate, discuss, establish his or her art-view, and sometimes even defend it.
“Contemplating artists” might be a name for a standing heading for a series of articles, where one will find different thoughts and contemplations on the problems of creativity, art, and art power drive.
Our first meeting shall be with Vasiliy Yasiuk. He is the Director of the oldest art-college in Belarus named after Glebov and member of the Artist Union of Belarus. After the graduation from the Art Academy, he became the youngest teacher in it among highly acclaimed professors. He has been teaching and painting ever since.
— Was it interesting to start teaching right after the graduation?
— It was interesting to stay in the familiar environment. Students are always full of new interesting ideas. They have a fresh critical view on traditional school. It is because experienced artists tend to generalize. Young artists, on the other hand, offer such original ideas that can be really amazing.
— Is there what can be called a “Belarusian art-school”?
— I think that there is something that can be called “Belarusian art-school”. We have certain traditions in painting, drawing, sculpture, starting with our oldest artists-teachers: Savitskiy, Gromiko, Vashchenko, Shirongovich. I think that it was them and their followers, who laid base to what has become our traditional art-school. Later younger artists adopted this style.
— Is it possible to call these trends “Soviet Art” then?
— This school can be called soviet, but it has retained classical realism trend. And this trend is still able to meet competition. We are very good in terms of traditional art; I am deeply convinced in this. Compared with Western art or any other. Belarusian school is closely connected to its history. It is very important for us and is widely reflected in art. But today, many young artists introduce contemporary trends. And they enter global art community, because there are ways to communicate. Belarusian artists often have their art-shows in Germany, France — they have art-shows all over Europe. I think that all this gives them a good productive impulse. Having a national art-school is very interesting, because it means that our art is multi-faceted. Those posters, those images that are all slick and smoothed up, sometimes remain dead. They just state the fact. But a painting must invoke emotions. Art is feelings. A painting either inspires or not, and if it does, this is real art. Art shall not be dead.
— You told us that the art of Belarusian artists enjoys interest in the West. But is it necessary for Belarusian artists to try to get there? We can put this question in other words: is this connection necessary?
— As far as I am concerned, I think that Art should be beyond borders and politics and this is extremely important. When an artist is concerned only with art, it is like in sports. We used to have artist of such significance as Chagall, Malevich, Kandinsky — all of them belong to the Belarusian art-school, but they achieved success only in the international art community. We are in the same situation now — we need to come out to the international level. We need joint art-shows and joint plain airs, the more — the better. We need healthy competition. Art will speak for itself, if it has something to say. Bad art is in no demand everywhere.
— You’ve expressed your point of view on painting and art. But what is your personal creative criterion?
— An artist as a professional, in the first place, must be able to provide for him- or herself, for his or her family. Artist accomplishes this with his or her creative work. Speaking from the purely artistic point of view, it is creative freedom. Creative freedom means to paint what people like, what is popular.
— What are you favorite genres?
— I have, if it is possible to say so, different periods. I had series of paintings “Kupalle” (Belarusian folk-fest). Some other time, I had series of famous people’s portraits. My last period is unfettered, vitalizing landscape, still life, portrait paintings, as a counterbalance to something gloomy. Free writing, celebrating life — this is my creed. Art must bring joy, happiness, and satisfaction. A TV-set can be switched off, but a painting can’t be switched off. A person chooses the piece of art that he or she likes best, that will always be in front of his or her eyes. A painting becomes member of the family. I like it when good pieces get to good people.
— What about your art-shows?
— I have been having my art-shows in Germany recently. I have exhibited around a hundred of water-color paintings at each of them. A retail store network purchased one painting. Its reproduction, together with the reproductions of Chagall, Malevich, Kandinsky, is sold there now. Many reproductions of my paintings are widely sold now. I have had many art-shows of my own, but mostly during soviet times. In order to be able to be admitted into the Artist Union, one had to have a certain number of personal art-shows.
— Do you consider yourself an artist of the Belarusian art-school?
— Our Belarusian school has its particularities and id different even from other post-soviet republics. Every successful Belarusian artist has his or her own style.
— Previously, soviet art-school was very good. Is the art-school of Russian Federation like that now?
— It is not that good, in my opinion. We have been to a number of very expensive Moscow galleries. Poster-art and use of digital technologies is very popular there. They create art using technical means, using commercials. All the schools of the post-soviet area were created on the ground of similar programs. It is not correct to say that it is better somewhere. There was parallelism. Someone can make it better, someone can’t. An artist from Belarus is able to make better art that that from Russia. It is because art in Russia is very commercialized. It is we, who have retained soul and heart in art. When I make art in Germany, I paint with Belarusian heart. An artist cannot do without a heart.

Viktor Mikhailov
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