Collection of essays about artistic statements in Belarusian contemporary art

Israel Basov:
painting “Red Landscape”,

ZBOR #37

Oil on canvas

Israel Basov:painting “Red Landscape”,1993

“Museum of Bruno”, Podzemka gallery, Minsk, Belarus, 2006


Israel Basov is considered one of the major forerunners of the contemporary Belarusian art. Born in 1918 in Mstsislaw, Mahilioŭ region, four years before the establishment of the USSR, Basov died in 1994, three years after the Soviet Union’s collapse. His whole life, the artist has lived in Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, and his destiny was in many ways determined by this political and cultural context. Because of the general rejection of his art and hostility towards his nationality, the artist never had a personal exhibition. In 1968, the Union of artists, in which he was a member, came up with an absurd idea to organise a closed exhibition of Israel Basov’s works prohibited to the public and press, which the artist obviously discarded. Between 1975 and 1982, he did not even have the right to participate in group exhibitions. Two appeals were filed to the Ministry of culture of the USSR, in 1978 and 1987, for Basov’s works to be exhibited, but to no avail.

Basov’s paintings are characterised by naïve stylisation, bright colour palette and impasto technique, completely at odds with the official social realist cultural ideology of the time. Nevertheless, the artist has never betrayed his ideals, and his life stance, regardless of his reclusion, was an example of stoicism. The pinnacle of Basov’s creative output occurred in his final years, when the artist made a dramatic turn from figurative art towards abstraction. Most of his works represent cityscapes of Minsk, and through this landscape and architecture painting, the artist came to experiment with non-figurative imagery. Even though Israel Basov stands apart in the history of Belarusian art, his paintings have had a great impact on many contemporary artists, which is why at this exhibition, he is presented as a key precursor of Belarusian contemporary art.

In 1996, a posthumous catalogue of Basov’s works was published with the support from the Soros Foundation, and his first personal exhibition was held at the National Art Museum.


Israel Basov (born October 7, 1918, Mstsislaw, Mogilev Governorate, today Belarus – died August 4, 1994, Minsk, Belarus) – artist.

Lived and worked in Minsk, Belarus.


Text: Sergey Shabohin, Larisa Filkinshtein, KALEKTAR ©


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