Black and White Cinema, and Colour Cartoons

Black and White Cinema, and Colour Cartoons

The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus Main building

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. Emilie Buchwald (born in 1935), a literary editor and a publisher

The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus reopens its store-rooms and presents to the public the exhibition “Black and White Cinema, and Colour Cartoons” (illustrations for books for adults and children). It is a continuation of the 2020 exhibition project “One, two, three, four, five, I’m going to look for you!” (illustrations for books for children and teenagers). This year’s project was based on illustrations for books for different ages – from young to old, and they are created by masters of the Belarusian book art of the 20th–21st centuries. The exhibition includes from black-and-white images of the first quarter of the last century, like frames from the first films, to bright colour pictures of the beginning of the current century, which have become an integral part of the art of cartoon animation. The exhibition “Black and White Cinema, and Colour Cartoons” is on display from July 7 to August 7, 2022.

This time we have decided to demonstrate not only the works of book graphics from the “Belarusian Original Graphics” Collection, but to show also the rich funds of book graphics from the “Belarusian Printed Graphics” Collection. Thus, we represent a whole galaxy of domestic artists devoted themselves to the art of book. The exposition includes 141 works by 29 authors – recognized and widely known in the world of Belarusian book illustration artists such as Bienjamin Basaw, Mikhail Bielski, Tatsiana Bierazienskaja, Anatol Volkaw, Siarhiej Volkaw, Hienadz Hrak, Mikalaj Hurlo, Mikalaj Hutsijew, Isak Davidovich, Barys Zaboraw, Juryj Zajtsaw, Arlien Kashkurevich, Jawhien Kulik, Aliena Los, Barys Malkin, Hieorhij Paplawski, Nina Paslawskaja, Aliaksandra Pasliadovich, Uladzimir Pashchastsiew, Mikalaj Sieliashchuk, Hieorhij Skrypnichenka, Valieryj Slavuk, Paviel Tatarnikaw, Valiantsin Tsikhanovich, Anatol Tychyna, Mikhail Filipovich, Vaclava Fleury, Vasil Sharanhovich, and Hary Jakubieni.

Books form the consciousness of a person, his worldview, his aesthetic abilities and artistic taste. They are often passed down from one generation to the next. The design of book is a special page in the artist’s creative biography, because the book is an integral organism in which the alliance of text and image gives rise to a bright, complete work. The text is a kind of a coded message from the writer to the reader, for which the artist creates a visual imagery. The drawings in the book, living according to the laws of narration, are freely placed on snow-white pages and find similarities on spreads. This single compositional solution provides the edition with an artistic integrity.

Illustration for Aleksandr Pushkin’s fairy tale
Mikhail Bielski. 1921–1988. Illustration for Aleksandr Pushkin’s fairy tale “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”. 1956 year of publication Gouache on paper. 40x32.5 cm
Boy with a Book
Vaclava Fleury. 1888–1983. Boy with a Book. From the illustrations for the child’s primer. 1919 Ink and pen on paper. 25x18 cm

The masters’ interests are different: they illustrate both the national literature works and foreign authors’ writings. Some artists adhere to once chosen literary genre and manner of execution. The restless, searching nature of other artists encourages them to try their hand at illustrating works on different subjects. They are constantly in search of new figurative solutions, update the artistic language, based on the content of the book. The exhibition demonstrates a sketchy drawing full of internal tension, and a detailed story imbued with folk humor, and an energetic, melodic song, and a whimsical applique on a fairy-tale-fantastic theme, and a noble restrained engraving, and a bright popular print, in which it is easy to find associations with folk toys, embroidery and woodcarving. Various techniques contribute to the disclosure of the artist’s talent in full force. Along with watercolour, gouache, pencil, charcoal and tempera, the artists use colored lacquers and appliques, apply ink, turn to etching, linocut and lithography.

The search for new compositional and style solutions, along with a careful attitude to the traditions of the past, make it possible to create a variety highly artistic works that make up the golden fund of the Belarusian book illustration.

The exhibition project is complemented by 35 books from the collections of the National Library of Belarus and the library of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus with illustrations presented at the exhibition.


Anastasia Karneiko, the exhibition curator, senior associate at the Department of the Belarusian Art of the 20th–21st centuries.