The Land of White Storks. The image of Motherland in the works of Belarusian artists of the 20th–21st century

The Land of White Storks. The image of Motherland in the works of Belarusian artists of the 20th–21st century

The Museum of Vitold Byalynitsky-Birulya

One of the genres most popular with both visual artists and viewers is the landscape, which possesses the power to make a significant impact on the spectator, as well as cognitive and educational potential. Many aspects of historical and cultural development are manifested in this genre, as well as the image of the native land specific to a national mentality.

Most painters associate the image of the Motherland with the glorification of Belarusian nature. The landscape genre has a long history in Belarusian painting and graphics. We see its elements in works of icon painting and book engraving of the early 18th century. Many Belarusian artists of later periods devoted all of their work to the natural beauty of their Motherland, the corner of the earth where they were born and raised, with their works capturing both the endless expanses and quiet villages of our country. Belarusian nature possesses its own unique charm and undeniable beauty. They are endless meadows, fields stretching beyond the horizon, long ribbons of great rivers and endless blue lakes. The change of seasons occupies a major place in the artists’ work. Belarusian nature is either covered in snow, or in a state of awakening, or flooded with the summer sun, or dressed in the opulent foliage of autumn. To present the image of the native land as multifaceted both chronologically and thematically, as well as stylistically is the main goal and concept of the exhibition.

At the end of the 19th century artists developed a special type of landscape, which lyrically depicted a typical motif of their native land’s nature. A landscape study, or a landscape painted from life occupies a major place in their art. The traditions of these masters were continued by Yehuda Pen and his easily recognizable views of Vitebsk and its outskirts.

Numerous Belarusian artists turned to the theme of the Motherland in landscape painting of the 20th–21st century. Their works are characterised by a combination of lyricism and the epic scope of the depiction of the world. The artists found it important to create a somewhat generalised epic image of their native land based on that specific area which became the object of their artistic rendering (Yaugen Zaitsau, Uladzimir Kudrevich, Vital Tsvirka, Viktar Gramyka, Dzmitry Aleynik, Gauryil Vashchanka, Leanid Shchamialiou, etc.). The feelings of inner unity of man and nature, and of a close relationship with the land were the subject of works of those Belarusian masters, who created philosophically meaningful, symbolic images of their native nature.

The image of Motherland has become one of the key motifs in the work of Belarusian artists of varying generations and artistic traditions. The collection of Belarusian art of the 20th–21st century of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus is a vivid proof of this. For several centuries, numerous painters, graphic artists and sculptors have been making this important contribution to the formation of our country’s image in visual arts. 

The exhibition project was organised with the help of a grant of the President of the Republic of Belarus in the spheres of science, education, healthcare, culture and youth policy, and as part of the framework of events dedicated to the Year of Peace and Creation.

Exhibition curator: Lyubou Sysoeva, leading researcher