Mikalaj Kuzmich ‘Byzantium’

Mikalaj Kuzmich ‘Byzantium’

The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus Main building

The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus hosts the opening of the solo anniversary exhibition ‘Byzantium’ of famous Belarusian artist Mikalaj Kuzmich on December 2, 2020. The exhibition presents the master’s icons, icon pendants, medallions made in the method of the ancient Byzantine enamel over the past few years.

Mikalaj Kuzmich went down in the history of Belarus when he restored the Cross of Saint Euphrosyne of Polack, one of the national relics. Today, it is kept in the Church of St. Euphrosyne of the Savior Euphrosyne Convent in Polack. A few years later, Mikalaj Kuzmich made the reliquary with a cross depicted on it, and the shrine for the relics of Saint Euphrosyne of Polack. The state and the Orthodox Church highly appreciated the artist’s creativities. He is Honoured Artist of Belarus, Cavalier of the Order of Francysk Skaryna and the Order of the Russian Orthodox Church in the name of Saint Vladimir and the Cross of Saint Euphrosyne of Polack. The artist has the medals of Prince Konstanty Ostrogski.

Mikalaj Kuzmich is called Lazar Bohsha of the times. The famous master works in the unique method of the ancient Byzantine cloisonné enamel, and the same method specialists can be counted on one hand in the world. Drawing and color are basic components for the master. He is not limited to the ancient patterns and Byzantine traditions, especially in sacred works. He also uses some methods of the 12th century for new ones, where laconicism and minimalism of modern forms are harmoniously combined with the baroque color.

The cloisonné enamel is a delicate handicraft. It is not used for mass production. Jewelry companies often ‘recreate the effect’ of cloisonné enamel by casting pieces in the method of champleve enamel. Individual masters use the original cloisonné enamel in their craftworks.

The method needs the high level of skill. How to provide images with movement and courage in iconographic works? This all depends on the ease and transparence of cloisonné enamel. The thicker the gold thread, the more the drawing looks like a pattern. It is possible to draw with a long thin metal tape like a sharpened pencil.

What about the color of enamels with a matted glitter of gold and a variety of painted tones? Mikalaj Kuzmich makes compound tones, experimenting with mixtures of modern enamel powders. So, he reaches the intensity of ultramarine, the mysterious depth of imperial purple and the magical shine of white. The Belarusian master uses the whole palette with compound tones for the cloisonné enamel.

The delicate works of Mikalaj Kuzmich combine the traditional Byzantine aesthetics of forms, lines and workmanship, European ideas of the style and functions for significant works of art with details and symbols. However, his works are light and fine.

It should be added that Mikalaj Kuzmich is a true patriot of Brest. He came to the town after graduation in 1982. The artist settled there. Today, there is a jewelry gallery ‘Byzantium’ and the studio where he and his son Piotr make icons and jewelry in the center of Brest.

Mikalaj Kuzmich often turns to the church themes. Today, he uses the cloisonné enamel method for his icon pendants, crosses and icons without copying. He has a perfect command of material. The artist perfectly makes the architecture of images, so he keeps everything in its right place. The style of his drawings in the cloisonné enamel method is dynamic, bold and easy. The artist’s works go beyond jewelry or decorative art.