The Nation’s Code is Red. The Sacral, Aesthetics, Power

The Nation’s Code is Red. The Sacral, Aesthetics, Power

The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus Main building

In the process of its development each society identifies archetypal colors of its culture. It provides colors with definitions and meanings, develops codes and values for them, and regularizes their goals. For Belarusian culture, one of the significant colors is red.

A wide range of pieces of the national art contain red that presents its archetypal universality and magnificent associative possibilities. The national art includes traditions of various ethnic groups, confessions, styles and trends. The exhibition project ‘The Nation’s Code is Red. The Sacral, Aesthetics, Power’ represents the significance and polysemic imagery of red in the culture of Belarus.

Red is difficult to accurately interpret and differentiate. According to the context it can be as a symbol of love and hate, life and death, hope and suffering, protection and danger, the divine and demonic. Red is one of the most ancient colors that people began to use in religious, social and political areas of their life. During cultural interchange this color has been full of a plenty of symbols. In view of this, it is not easy to capture nuances between an aesthetic red and a symbolic one in any piece of art. Hard to tell if the master of the 2nd century AD thought of an aesthetic, a religious and a symbolic character, making bronze pendants with red enamels, which, perhaps, symbolized vital and apotropaion power. The Christian art presents icons on which martyrs’ blood is symbolically expressed through red garment, as well as a sign of hereditary aristocratic power through red coats of arms and red elements of outer clothing such as a kuntush depicted in Sarmatian portraits. This ambitendency of red can be seen in a number of exhibits from the ancient to contemporary Belarusian art. The exposition is a ‘dialogue’ of art pieces of various ages, types and styles in which red is something sacral, aesthetics and power. The red demonstrates centuries-long experience of understanding the view of the world and the way of self-knowledge of our people.


Dmitry Solodky Exhibition curator Senior Researcher