By Victor Mikhailov
Vladimir Volnov has a personal attitude towards the presentation of his works, saying, “An exhibition shows an artist’s eternal soul, free from time, reflecting his feelings and thoughts.” The event is dedicated to his 70th birthday and demonstrates that he remains faithful to himself.
The artist has had a tough life, full of hardship. In June 1944, at just four years old, Vladimir was found at the frontline, near Vitebsk; the date then became his official birthday. His childhood left a strong mark on his memory so it’s no surprise that Mr. Volnov’s pictures are influenced by memories from his younger years, combined with philosophical, more adult reflections.
Several of his compositions — including those on show in Minsk — are based on actual historical events, with the theme of the past to the fore. His Holocaust is particularly emotional and expressive while his installation pieces use real war-related objects as documentary proof. His many shows in German Berlin and Nienburg (Vitebsk’s twin city) inspired his holocaust theme. The desire of modern Germans to take responsibility for the events of WWII guided his Signs of a Soul series. It shows the evil of the Nazis and the value of human life. Mr. Volnov expresses his civil position towards the great human tragedy.
The theme of war is obvious in his other works. In Memory of a Partisan is full of red and military symbols while Earth inspires optimism and hope. Mr. Volnov also vividly explores relations between nature and man. In Return: Devotion to the Father, he depicts a man walking to his home, surrounded by huge trees, with a white cloud hanging over an orange road. It symbolises his return to normality after the horrors of the war years.
Mr. Volnov has devoted many of his works to villages and their residents, whose fates are often complicated. You can feel his empathy for the modern tragedy of the abandoned territories — whose identity is lost forever. Some of his pictures feature photos and household items belonging to villagers, reminding us that their simple lifestyle is now gone. His Indian Summer in Dead Village is exemplary, featuring thematic components: a blue sky and yellow-golden fields, bordering the black spots of neglected houses, no longer full of warmth and comfort. The artist is convinced that life is different in different times. However, Mr. Volnov always finds a place for depicting joy. Building City, Harvest and Supper on Grass are full of optimism.
This jubilee exhibition embraces his life experience and artistic diversity, revealing his inner self to audiences with great success.