Collection of essays about artistic statements in Belarusian contemporary art

Leon Tarasewicz:
painting in architecture
in Viciebsk Art Museum,

ZBOR #18

Monumental decoration of the pillars of Viciebsk Art Museum during In-formation 95 festival, Viciebsk, Belarus

Oil paint 

Leon Tarasewicz:painting in architecturein Viciebsk Art Museum,1995

Monumental murals on the pillars, In-formation 95 festival, 1995, Vitebsk Art Museum


Leon Tarasewicz is a living legend of the Belarusian contemporary art. Born in Podlasie region, permanently living there, Tarasewicz is a representative of the Belarusian ethnic minority in Poland. He has always emphasized his nationality, and his active artistic and political position is an example of an expanded understanding of the national culture boundaries.

In September 1995, Leon Tarasewicz arrived in Viciebsk to take part in In-formation Festival of Contemporary Art. The artist chose  the mighty vertical columns of the Art Museum for his painting and painted them in oil with rhythmic stripes, putting together line sequence of white, black and ochraceous. It was a program manifestation of the Tarasewicz’ architectural painting, where the mechanism of rhythmic repetition was revealed, later repeatedly applied to his monumental works.

Simplified to the interchange of horizontal lines, his works make us think about the landscape. His palette has “natural” basis of ground, soil pastose, and many of his paintings resemble plowed field, purely picturesque field, as it was in the Polish Pavilion of the 49th Venice Biennale floor painting. Moving away from the study of nature as a real object, Tarasevich’ work became the study of the essence of its abstracted elements.

Soon enough the artist quits working on a canvas: work on a wall on its own leads him to the “destruction” of the plane. It occurred, for example, at the exhibition of 1993 in Lublin Galeria Biala and at the Berlin exhibition at the edge of 1994/95. His work in Viciebsk is different from the previous architectural interventions since due to the volume of the columns for the first time his painting was considered more as a range of autonomous objects, rather than painted. Lines on the columns were perfectly built into the space characteristic, echoing the staircase and the halls. The Leon Tarasewicz arrival and work are important and symbolic for the Belarusian contemporary art and the history of Viciebsk – a city whose culture is closely connected with the development of avant-garde in the 1920s and the works of  Kazimir Malevich, El Lisitsky and other UNOVIS members.

Viciebsk work of Leon Tarasevich does not exist today. Initially, the work was created as a temporary, but the organizers of the festival and experts have managed to persuade the administration to include the paintings into the permanent exhibition, and after that for nearly 12 years there was a constant fight with management, some disgruntled visitors and city authorities against the destruction of the work. In 2007, during the renovation works, Tarasevich artwork was painted over without an agreement, guided by the decision of the new director of the institution. The history of the destruction of the painting continues the sad tradition of nomenclature struggle with modernism in Belarus, as it is happening in Viciebsk today such as the amateur reconstruction of the building, where UNOVIS and Marc Chagall used to work.


Leon Tarasewicz (born 1957, Waliły, Podlaskie Voivodship, Poland) – artist, professor of Warsaw Academy of Arts. Organiser of the festival of Belarusian alternative and rock music in Poland, Basowiszcza.

Lives and works in Podlaskie Voivodship, in the village of Waliły, Poland (region on the border with Belarus, inhabited to a big extent by ethnic Belarusians).


Text: Sergey Shabohin, Larisa Mikhnevich, KALEKTAR ©


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