River of Time

River of Time

The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus Main building

This is the seventeenth exhibition of the anniversary cycle. Such expositions have been organised at the museum since 2008 (in some years there were several separate exhibitions of this kind annually, yet also sometimes there was not a single one in a year).

At the exhibition you can see more than 80 works by about 50 authors, born from 75 to 150 years ago. Artists, for obvious reasons, are represented only by a small number of works, which does not allow for a holistic display of bodies of work of each of them, yet it’s still an opportunity to showcase the individuality of the masters, especially in comparison with others. Some authors are consonant with each other, despite the decades separating them, some, although they lived at the same time period, are dissonant, which makes for a kaleidoscopic display of various worldviews and interpretations of reality.

Works of art, which have been created over a period of a hundred years, allow one to feel the “atmosphere” of different eras, to get acquainted with the evolution of the tastes of both the artists and the society, to hear the voices of various generations, and to embark on a sort of a journey through time.

Such exhibitions expand the scope of the permanent exposition, presenting the work of artists whose works are usually not included in the museum exhibition due to the limited space available. This means showing the viewer “invisible” works of “invisible” masters – which, sometimes for decades, are visible only to a few museum employees.

Particularly little known are some of the oldest artists at the exhibition, such as Kazimirousky, Kamarou, Astapovich, Gluckman. The work of Marcin Kazimirousky was on display at the pre-war Art Gallery, miraculously survived and was returned to the museum. A Polish artist, he depicted our fellow countryman, a native of Belarus, the priest Mikhal Sapotska, who is now canonised. The museum staff managed to find this out quite recently, as well as to attribute the authorship of the picture itself. Occasionally, over time, works “lose” both their author and their title, but sometimes it is possible to restore this information. Zinaida Astapovich was the sister of a remarkable Belarusian graphic artist of the 1920s–1930s, much less famous, but probably no less talented than him. Dzimitry Kamarou, an outstanding colorist, while at Penza and St. Petersburg, was a classmate of the famous Valiantsin Volkau, at whose suggestion he came to Belarus and taught in Vitebsk and Minsk. Grigory Gluckman, a native of Vitebsk, gained fame in France and the USA; his work was donated to the museum by a private individual.

This exhibition mainly features landscapes and portraits. The diversity of the landscape genre in depicting the nature of Belarus can be seen in the works of Abram Krol, Vital Tsvirka, Ivan Akhremchyk, Mikalai Dudarau, Viktar Valynets, Leanid Shchamialiou, Yury Hauryn, Uladzimir Tkachenka, Siamion Damarad. Viktar Viarsotsky and Viktar Hramyka brought authentic works back from foreign trips, being under the spell of the realia of other countries.

The portraits range from the beginning of the last century to its last years, from either precise or impressionistic rendering of human appearance in the works of Kamarou, Astapovich, Zevin, through the traditional realism of Akhremchyk's portraits to the symbolic and lyrical works of Lyubou Meisels and Ninel Shchasnaya.

Genre painting is represented at the exhibition by compositions by Aleh Skavarodka, Viktar Sakhnenka, Aliaksandr Tsyrkunou, Aliaksandr Kishchanka, each of which, in the unity of form and content, unveils the subject chosen by the artist.

The abstract and semi-abstract works of Aliaksandr Kanavalau and Mikalai Bushchyk help to define more clearly the role of purely formal means – colour, line, composition, format – in the creation and perception of the figurative structure of the painting, especially when there is also a verbal reference for the viewer – the title of the work.

Sculptural section of the exhibition includes both the works of the staunch traditionalist Mikhail Kerzin, who trained the oldest Belarusian sculptors of the Soviet period, and the works of sculptors of other creative priorities – Pavel Tsompel, Ivan Klianitsky, Aliaksandr Krochalev. Moreover, marble, plaster, bronze, cast iron – the very material of the sculpture carries aesthetic and semantic value and expressiveness.

Decorative and applied arts are represented at the exhibition by recognised masters Galina and Vikentsi Stasievich, Tatsiana and Yury Rudenka (tapestry), Uladzimir Zhokhau (glass).