Collection of essays about artistic statements in Belarusian contemporary art

Artur Klinau:
cycle “Sweet Straw Life”,
2002 – 2003

ZBOR #20

Straw, metal

Artur Klinau:cycle “Sweet Straw Life”,2002 – 2003

From the series “Straw Empire”, 2008


Artur Klinau is an artist, writer and screenwriter, who is famous not just in Belarus, but in the whole world. He is a founder and a chief editor of the almanac about modern Belarusian art pARTisan, in which the artist compared the representative of the Belarusian culture with an image of a modern partisan.

From the expressionistic style in painting, Artur Klinau turned to social art, rethinking the soviet past and ridiculing it. This irony, along with nostalgia is, perhaps, the main marker of the projects, installations and novels of the artist. His artworks include suitcases, filled with iconic books, birdhouses, made of Belarusian furniture from the beginning of 20th century, or “Partisan Boutique”, a mobile installation, in the form of the shop that sells the objects of the Soviet mass culture. In the photo and literature project “Minsk, the City of Sun”, Artur Klinau rethinks the architectonic of the capital of Belarus, made up as a large-scale installation/attraction, where the architecture exists only as a decoration for the “Grand Utopia”, or the gates back to USSR.

With the mass culture codes and architecture decorations, the artist works in the series of artworks made out of straw, which include “Sweet Straw Life”, “Straw Empire”, and “Secret Life of Straw”. Appealing to straw, the agrarian symbol of Belarus, the artist attempts to combine the national folklore methods with the passion for the neoclassical monumentalism. In the public and exhibition spaces, the artist creates Roman arches and columns made of straw, the philistine interiors, referring to the great works from the history of art (e.g. “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci).

Straw serves as a simulacrum of a “straw life”, or the material for the decorations and building of that “City of Sun”. It is an unattainable dream that will never come true. The artist presents the installations and objects created from this material as a mental space of Belarusians, “a cultural symbol”, or “exotic product” for export, the geography of which can be Marcel, Poznan, Bonn, Strasburg, Vilnius, Lublin, Venice, etc. A deliberate ironical flirting with the topics of the national codes, political and art history, mass culture, criticism of consumerism and export cynicism are characteristic for the most artworks by Artur Klinau.

In the latest years, the artist has started to feel a passion for movie industry, where he creates “real” decorations as a production designer. In the movie “Masakra” (2010, by director Andrey Kudinenko), one can see the dynamics of the Klinau’s departure from the fine arts, that in the symbolical form revealed itself as burning the straw artworks of the author.


Artur Klinau (born 1965, Minsk, Belarus) – artist, photographer, journalist, publisher, art critic, writer. Also works in cinema as a screenwriter and art producer. Founder and editor-in-chief of the pARTisan media project.

Lives and works in Minsk, Belarus.


Text: Sergey Shabohin, olga Rybchinskaja, KALEKTAR ©


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