Vladimir GOLUB

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Personal exhibitions


2001
Gallery "Mastatstva", Minsk, Byelorussia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Byelorussia, Minsk, Byelorussia
Russian cultural Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania

2000
Byelorussian Stock-Exchange Bank, Grodno

1999

"Amatininkai" Gallery, Vilnius
"Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius
Museum of Contemporary Art, Minsk, Byelorussia

1996
"Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius

1995
"PFEIFER" Gallery, Olsten, Poland
"Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius
"U Maistra" Gallery, Grodno, Byelorussia

1994
"LTS" Gallery, Vilnius

1993
Show room of Byelorussian Artists Association, Grodno, Byelorussia

1991
"ART" Gallery, Olsten, Poland

1990
Show room of Byelorussian Artists Association, Grodno, Byelorussia


<>Selected group exhibitions

2001
Days of Culture of Beylorussia, Moscow, Russia
Republic exhibition "Beylorussia for third Millenium", Minsk, Byelorussia
Group exhibition of painters of Russian cultural Centre. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuania

2000
"Intoxication with Eros". Tyzenhaus Gallery, Grodno, Byelorussia
"Festival of National Cultures" Gallery of the Byelorussian Union of Artists,
Grodno, Byelorussia
Moscow International Fine Art Salon of the Central Artists Gallery - 2000, Moscow, Russia
"Museum of Modern Arts Presents", Polotsk, Byelorussia

1999
"Luftic" Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
"Limit of Millennium", Museum of Painting, Minsk, Byelorussian

1998
" A.Mitskevich's 200th Anniversary, "Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius

1997
Lithuanian Art'97/ Galleries present, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius
Group exhibition, Warsaw, Poland
"Byelorussian Artists in Lithuania", Vilnius
"Water, forest, picture", Gorzov Velkopolski, Poland
"20+20", Grodno, Byelorussia

1996
"Chernobyl - Pain and Hope", Minsk, Byelorussia
Group exhibition, Minden, Germany
Group exhibition, Aachen, Germany
"Masters of Byelorussian Art", Vilnius

1995
"Byelorussia palette of the 20th century", Minsk, Byelorussia

1994
"Zhyve Belarus", Republican exhibition, Minsk, Byelorussia

1992
Group exhibition, Minden, Germany
Group exhibition, Choping, Sweden
Group exhibition, "Arka" Gallery, Vilnius
"Zhyve Belarus", Republican exhibition, Minsk, Byelorussia

1991
Art exhibition "Byelovezha - 90", Byelystok, Poland

1990
International exhibition, "Casandra call", Minsk, Byelorussia

Selected publications

The Great Byelorussian Encyclopaedia. Vol.5.
Encyclopaedic Reference Book of the Byelorussian Union of Artists
The "Mastatstva" (Arts) magazine issued by the Ministry of Culture of Byelorussia. No. 6, 1992. N.Shelgovich
The "Mastatstva" magazine. No. 11, 1994. N.Metlitskaya
The "Mastatstva" magazine. No. 8, 1995. O.Ablazhey
The "Neman" magazine. No. 9, 1996. G.Shuneyko
The "Arsenal" magazine. Poland.No. 7-8, 1997. Gorzowski
The "Literatura i mastatstva" (Literature and Art) weekly. No. 25.12, 1998
The "Literatura i mastatstva" weekly. No. 29.10, 1999. N.Sharanchovich
The "Kultura" (Culture). No. 38-39, 1999. N.Antonchik
The "Va-bank" dayly. No 2.11, 1999. I.Reut
The "Info-birzha" (Info-exchange) weekly. No. 49, 1999. N.Antonchik

Awards

1983 Lenin Comsomol Premium in the area of fine arts
1999 Medal of the Byelorussian Union of Artists "For service to Fine Arts", No 111/1999


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V.Golub: Merging Two Epochs

by Nadia ANTONCHIK
Art-critic

Vladimir GOLUB was born in 1953 in a small town of Slutsk, Byelorussia. Still a teenager he knew for sure that he would be a painter. When he was 12 he left his parents` home to enter an All-Byelorussian Music and Fine Arts School. Later Vladimir entered the Easel-Painting Department of Byelorussian Academy of Arts. He graduated from it in 1977 acquiring in this way the best professional artistic education available in his country.

At the very start of his creative activity Golub, like many of his contemporaries, experienced the expansion of the official Soviet art on the one hand, and the emasculation of late avant-garde on the other. It made him search for his own style. Currently his style represents a combination of realism and fantasy. Inspired by the images of West-Slavic mythology, the painter created his own symbolic-allegorical landscape inhabited by the Spirits of Nature.

Success came to the original master of fantastic imagination early. Museums paid for his pictures much more than for the ones offered by other Byelorussian painters. Famous art critics wrote about him in the "Mastatstva" magazine issued under the auspices of the Byelorussian Ministry of Culture. Polish, Lithuanian and German papers and magazines on arts also published pictures of works by Golub more than once.

Now the painter and his family live in Vilnius. There he co-operates with local art galleries. He often leaves Vilnius for Poland to take part in plain-airs or for Grodno, an ancient town in Byelorussia, to work in the tranquil atmosphere of his first studio where 20 years ago he conceived a series of ancestor myths.

In 1999 on the occasion of opening his regular personal exhibition in Grodno Vladimir Golub was given a medal "For services to fine arts", the highest award of the Byelorussian Union of Artists.

Fantastic allusions in the majority of his landscapes are infinite. Especially where the transformed character of real female nature turns into an indirect image of elemental natural forces.

A roguishly graceful model of Golub with her lustrous eyes implying a mystery known only to herself, sloping shoulders, long white neck and half-naked breast immediately attracts spectators` attention. The painter's open personal liking for the model that shows in the picture softens the sorcerous shade of the image of excessively blooming female beauty. The painter is very courteous to, even indulging for his ideal of femininity in a man-like way, he is ruptured and charmed by it.
"Healthy like winter, joyful like spring, industrious lake summer, and rich like autumn" [Valachobnya pesni (Laudatory songs). Bartashevich G.A. Sadavey. Mn.Navuka i tech. 1980] - in this poetic key of a laudatory ritual song the painter idealises his beloved spouse. Now she is "like an apple-tree in an orchard", now "a peahen beauty" or "the lady of the manor" where the manor represents the entire world.


The Seeing-off of Birds. 1997

Amber Coast. 1997
The same model emerges in the plot of a light and bright picture titled "The Seeing-off of Birds". Here she is "the young girl who got up early, washed herself snow-white and combed her hair neatly" and is now standing "in the open field" where "a peahen flew and dropped its golden feather" [Valachobnya pesni (Laudatory songs). Bartashevich G.A. Sadavey. Mn.Navuka i tech. 1980]. The colour of autumnal maple-trees and the sky, azure like water in a river, stress the decorative character of her magnificent costume. The low-cut bodice exposes the whiteness of skin that melts into the soft whitish-blue tones of feathery clouds. In the expression of the face, eyes and half-open lips the warmth of exalted sensuality shows clearly.

The cheerful key of Byelorussian folklore used by the painter serves as a kind of an excuse for the sweet raptures of his soul embarrassed by a flood of lyricism. The soft landscape background and the picturesque motif of half-naked model lend intimacy to the pictures on a theme of folk poetry. When the painter's idea rests not on folklore but on a myth representing a very complex syncretic spiritual structure, images acquire a general semantic meaning. Such is the "Amber Coast" implying the author's own interpretation of the East-Baltic mythology.

A seashore view with the dunes of the Curonian Bay is presented allegorically. An effigy made not of a cold marble but of a foam-white amber is in the focus of attention. It does not represent either a marvellous Nereid or a protecting mermaid judging by its characteristic details (a life-saving ring and a white shawl). It is a wound-healing maiden-bird. Combinations of whitened additional colours, such as blue-green and beige-orange with the embedded honey-yellow drops of amber rain impart a lulling melody to the picture. It seems that the painter together with his muse has acquired a consoling peace under the wing of a merciful fate. Its stare is benevolent and at the same time scrutinising. The intensification of psychological contents of Golub's regular female model reveals his personal understanding of the essence of woman associated in the painter's imagination with the changeability, depth and whimsicality of a sea.

Apple Tree. 1998
Full Moon. 1999
Evening Melody. 1998
Melody of Silence. 1998
Girl and... 1985
Lullaby. 1994
In the series "Magic of Forefathers' Myths" the female character generally acquires chthonic properties. Its usual place of living is marshes, mowed meadows, stubble-fields or overgrown gardens. This is obvious in the pictures "Full Moon", "Apple Tree", "Evening Melody", and "Melody of Silence" where the image of personified Earth with a bizarre wreathe on her head like a crown appears among the lacy umbrellas of grasses against the background of an ingenious landscape.

A similar image, void of spiritual element like a pagan idol, embodies Ligo, the Grass Day, which is a Baltic fertility holiday. This holiday resembles an all-Slavic holiday of Kupala, especially its Byelorussian variant. The stare of a sorceress - Laume or Mara - is piercing because she is listening to the silence of a summer night. It is not a scream of a Night Bird [Valachobnya pesni (Laudatory songs). Bartashevich G.A. Sadavey. Mn.Navuka i tech. 1980] but a cry of a newly born human that she expects to hear.

The demure character of those pictures, especially the "Full Moon", the duality and unpredictableness of the female character makes one remember his "younger sister" in one of his early pictures "Girl and..." In the watchfulness of savage look one catches a note of likeness between a human and an animal: a marsh-bird - in the first picture and a little fluffy beast - in the second. A moving attitude of the painter towards the child model, rare in his creation, gives a chance to notice a lyrical element in his early work prompting a comparison with nature motifs. The pattern of lace resembles fragile twists of shells, the rosy colour of dress against light aura flutters like a burning butterfly; the child's head looks like a yellow flower trimmed with white hair. Yet the unprotectedness of the image is only illusive, like deceptively unprotected seem thistle flowers in the wind of winter.

When working on a Lithuanian landscape, Golub prefers a definite composition method that is a contrast juxtaposition of a close-up detail and a panorama-like space with meadow stacks against the horizon. In such landscapes a floral motif is in the focus of attention. A human, like every living being that has upon its death to enter the earth in order to put up shoots again in the form of a tree or a flower, also declines to it in the polyptych "Lullaby". A transformed motif of a half-parched thorny thistle is converted into a solid artistic image in the picture "Steppe Flowers". On a rotten thatch of a hut, hayloft or barn gigantic pie-like suns putting-up ray-like spikes are lying. They resemble living beings that have found shelter at a faded ochre dune or haystack on a windy day. The allegorical meaning of this canvas relates of the affinity of Byelorussian, Lithuanian and Polish rites and beliefs: remembrance of forefathers, ritual viands and feasts on dozhinkas, that is harvesting holidays celebrating the continuity of life.

The world of legends and tales represents a special artistic theme within the framework of symbolic and allegorical pictures by Golub. Among the images of elemental forces the Sun is met rarely. Like in West-European folklore, the Earth, the Water, the Sky and the Wind prevail.

The wind dispersing "white blankets of mist floating along the meadow" is personified by an immaterial figure of a lad in a pointed cap. The Wind wonders about clothed in a dress left on an upgrade by some forest spirit. Its horn-like head-dress pulled over its eyes, like an emblematic horn that penetrates the carcass form in two compositions presents a hint about an allegory of wind in the Byelorussian folklore where winds blow their horns and urge to move on fat clouds carrying invigorating moisture to all living beings.

The Evening.
From Series "Sand Castles".1998
The Water-nymph.
From Series "Sand Castles".1998
Indian Summer. 1998
Shoot. 1999

Hermit. 1998
Altar. 1999

At crossroads at grey twilight before sunrise the ubiquitous Spirits acquire new appearance. Their magic props are traditional, for example a lantern, a reed pipe, a bow and arrows. Among them there is an extraordinary one: an entrapping parachute, white as a dandelion's fluff. A girl in her teens is landing by it. She is the sorrowful unknown who floats by in a mysterious procession in the series "Sand Castles" where flower-girls, similar like sisters, are given interesting lyrical details, such as a hairdo a la "bird's nest", a wide-brimmed hat with sea-mews sitting on it for decorative purposes.

A symbolic object with an open structure like a tree with a hollow core is especially typical of pictures by Golub. It ousts a concrete mythological one in the series "Indian Summer". Some original form now represented as a helmet entangled in a fishermen's drag net, now - as a parachute-like web becomes a central compositional element. This can be observed in the pictures with a girl "wondering about a steppe as if about a sea shore" or a prop canyon - a den of a Fiery Dragon.

A number of such compositions developing essentially one phallic theme are full of sounds of cosmological images related to Kupala, the Baltic Jarovit or the Byelorussian Jarylo. Practically it is difficult to distinguish them from the Baltic Usins. The fire in "Altar" does not expose obscene characteristics of ritual-mythological images of fertility. The erotic aspect of the cult is revealed indirectly, by means of colour, with red prevailing. Like in the "Shoot" triptych, the elastic, soft, wrinkled or plump fruit become picturesque and plastic incarnations of a natural cycle.

Sensual polytheism is evident in the very location of relative objects. Their naked substructures are sinking in a mossy bog, freezing in a waste ground, peeping through the depth of fertile earth. "And the wild goat shall bleat to its companion; also the night creature shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs and hatch, and gather them under her shadow; there also shall the hawks be gathered, every one with her mate" [Isaiah 34.14].

The author's despotism in his treatment of the formula of never-ending metamorphoses associates the substrate of extraordinary objects with the microscopy of epithelium. It contains something that cinema people call "pieces of physiology". Tangles of thin branching tuberous threads: now blue-green like sea weeds, now blood-like red like vascular tissue. Pulsing veins in pierced yolks, broken off cancer nippers and naked wings of a crow. All that, like a multitude of other formations difficult to identify from the area of biochemical genetics create a mood that can be traced in the "Stalker" or "Solaris" by the Strugatsky Brothers greatly appreciated by the painter.

Violent natural forces are felt in the "Hills of Spring" where every common lyrical motif of reborn nature, such as newly appearing grass, sounds challenging. The seizure of the space by symbolic objects representing biologic-natural element emerges from inside the hills, through rust-coloured stubble. The pressure of vital energy is morbid - such is the fixed idea that develops from the element of image, where an important role is reserved to unexpectedness.

It is interesting that a certain ichthyologist, an acquaintance of Golub, who once dreamed of becoming a painter, served the prototype of "Hermit". Here a familiar symbolic object is presented as a half-fantastic corroded coat of mail or shell tossed on seashore. In its cavity, among sand and ashes, at the moment of maximum concentration of energy a piece of parched flesh is stiffening. It seeks to leave its rickety capsule that limits its vital space, however at the same time the concentrated energy finding no way out turns into a life-denying force to burn it up. The tragedy of the image lies in the fact that nobody is able to help the Hermit to get out of his bonds. In this allegoric way the painter imparts his ideas on non-employed creative powers.

Similarly, in his allegorical pictures "Werewolf" and "Despair" he shows the ambitions and limited capacities of his small country and countrymen with great skill and understanding, combining fantasy and authenticity. The painter's fancy is excited by the polysemanticism of all-Slavic mythological characters who, unlike deities, never create anything but usually destroy things. Such is the werewolf in "Wedding Cavalcade" uniting in its image human and animal properties which brings it closer to the "mighty beast" from the picture "Temptation".

 

Werewolf. 1993
Temptation. 1998

Among the personifications of destructive forces raging in social, ecological and psychological media a female one also exists. The Moon, red-haired fauns, stark naked but wearing golden hoof-like shoes, dashed by a wolf, is really "devilishly" beautiful.

The representation of self-sufficiency is the chief characteristic of a series of new works by the painter. In the centre of one of them one can see Siren seated there again by the author's will. Siren is one of the wonderful birds that used to surround the painter earlier, in the period of his fascination with the cosmogonic Slavic myths. Among the birds inhabiting the White World there was a light-coloured one that crossed a blue sea, a snow-covered field, hit itself against the Bitter Earth, turned into a Beautiful Maiden with her body visible through her dress. There was also a Raven shrieking painfully and a Siren Bird, somewhat awful, singing a ghastly song. It did not fly above quiet backwater; it reached the dark kingdom by the Caucasian Mountains. The new picture "Temptation" relates about never-ending conflicts that take place there. It represents a kind of paraphrase of the classical "kidnapping of Europe", only the role of the ox is given here to a "mighty beast who conquered the world under the Sun and started to stroll about without asking". Aiming at gold and silver, the beast took away with him the Dawn Maiden in passing.

Siren. 1998


The stressing of details surrounding the mischievous character (a monocle, a map case) makes one recognise the notorious odious historical personality. Essentially he is a treacherous Nart of the Caucasian legends. In the epos, its nature is connected with the solar myth. However a gold coin in the eye of the character of "Temptation" outshines the sun.

In this picture one can see a picturesque re-creation of the idea of the decline of Europe within the framework of culturological tradition.
During a plain-air in the surroundings of Olsztyn, trying to imagine visually the long-passed days when on the Polish land Prussic settlements existed Golub remembered how in his youth he participated in an archaeological expedition headed by the famous Byelorussian archaeologist Shtykhov. The excavations took place in the vicinity of Vitebsk on burial mounds of early Middle Ages. There Golub got acquainted with Tkachev, a post-graduate student of Minsk University who later became a famous researcher specialising in middle ages. The atmosphere of serious concentration that surrounded excavations was passed on to younger participants of expedition. However the imaginative powers of a student of Arts Institute under the influence of archaic myth "revived" the distant past in his own way.


Summer. 2000

Winter Mill. 2000


Evening Tea. 2000
 


Nostalgia. 2000
 

"Even today I live in the past of tomorrow", this phrase taken from "Picnic on a Wayside" has appealed to the painter since youth; this is because its idea is close to his own outlook revealed partly in a series of works titled "Picnic on a Wayside".

The pictures "Summer" and "Evening Tea" are full of unconsummated remembrances of a romantic feeling of first love. The dancing lacy shadows in the apple-scenting twilight, the softly-twinkling of a full-formed tea pot introduce into the mood a shade of intimate character. The haggardly transparent faces of characters symbolise the formation of vital forces - one of the main themes of the painter. Earlier it used to be realised by the author in a physiological aspect.

Golub expresses his attitude to history in a series titled "Archaic Figures and Things". Here history coincides with the present. If in "figures" the ratio of natural to relative shifts towards the latter, in "things" the reality is more traditional. Images are rather allegorical than symbolic.

On pedestals of somewhat archaeological character representing fragments of deliberately ruined rotundas one can see motionless absurd symbioses. Coffee pot, like a corpulent tower of an old donjon rises high above shabby huts. Twilight softens the shadows of the puffed-out body of "Winter Mill". The "tea pot" resembling a wind-iron is deliberately archaic. A hybrid of a samovar, a West-European boiler and primus burner cheers one up and at the same time frightens by its aggregate character. It brings us near to a series of pictures titled "Post-industrial Idols". It relates about what will be left of our days in the course of time.

It is interesting that Golub never depicts a machine phenomenon though he ponders over it. As an ecologically minded person he, like Bradbury whom he respects, does not like the great fuss about machines. He approves of the words on progress once uttered by Spielberg: "We get of it as much as we lose by it".

Clone No 0. 1999

Earlier the painter used to hide from the technical materialism and pragmatism of civilisation in his imaginary world of symbolic and allegoric landscape. His new plots can be called culturally philosophical. For example, "Nostalgia" where a mincing machine, a very primitive ARTefact of mass culture, suggests apprehension.

Rationalism as indirect violence bringing the diversity of organic world to mechanic uniformity is reflected in many pictures but in "Clone No 0" it is extremely obvious. Here it even acquires a shade of sadomasochism. Infants like naked baby dolls without sex or nationality are put on a flow-production line. Their parts can be chosen like any other article of merchandise in a show window. A label like a piercing earring pricks the groin through.

The ideas of culture and civilisation as a form of utilitarian attitude towards world have come into a clash, this conflict of theirs being insoluble. The painter in the "Idols" series developed such an outlook censuring the dehumanisation of society.

An even more merciless opinion is given of the hateful everyday life of a man pressed into the background of life by social and economic experiments. In the cells of dwelling houses of provincial modernity "somebody's small everyday life turns into stone and loses its voice, it does not dare even to stir". In "Urban Folklore" life is absolutely absent exposing the bare problem of survival. Here the treatment of images of marginal people, like the rudely lowered contents of dialect phrases or slang, has its specific emotional colouring: now mockingly ironical, now full of parody and tragedy.

The Tango of Loneliness. 1998

Low colloquial phrases such as "to corner", "to bust" or "its all up with me" come upon one's mind when one looks at the picture "The Tango of Loneliness". A silhouette of a house turns into a phantom of an absurd ship that melts into a turbid layer of ice. The caricature portrait of its chance "passengers": a sultry lady in a low-cut dress and her servile cat, both fixed in a comical pas makes one smile.

The painter does not try to generalise too widely the phenomenon of emigration. In the "Loneliness", a picture about ousting "guilty-of-everything foreigners" at the moment of social tension it is given indirectly. "For one person loneliness is a sick soul's escape, while for another it is an escape from the sick".
A yearning for warm human relations and a shade of intimacy is brought into a picture by a touching detail: a pair of doves growing numb with cold on the roof is to represent a pledge of matrimonial expectations.

Sticking phrases cannot help teeming in one's mind on seeing a small window under the ceiling. The most suitable phrase seems to be "cut off from the world", though a bulky bird, a personification of the object of victimisation, does not sit "either in jail, in a sack or in a cage", it is perched under the roof of its deserted home. The motif of a ruined nest or cooling off hearth turns into an allegory of a painful feeling of a forced migration and approaching nostalgia.

The image of a woman in "Tango" reveals a new characteristic, namely energetic completeness. Earlier it used to be represented by some object of nature - a merger of a flower, a bird and a ghost. Without the artfulness of a symbolic myth, the image of a corpulent dancer rises above the roofs of suburban houses where in identical apartment-niches those whom the fate also pronounced its "icy NO" have fallen asleep, reconciled with the verdict. The woman, free from the xenophobia of old age, gives her air to the melody of her awakening nomad soul, smiles sadly and makes the following conclusion: "there is some way out". She will soon disappear from this deserted dank town with "looking" windows and nobody will even notice it.

Besides folklore and ethnographic shades parody and fairy-tale element is added to the plot of pictures on urban themes. In the reality of half-vigilance and half-sleep a house is shown both from inside and outside simultaneously. "Little Hut, Little Hut, turn to me your front..." In this amusing fragment of imagination the author's hints are not always clear. Merging one into another, they clash, however never hurrying to teach the spectator.

When studying the image of loneliness the painter takes an attentive look at modern life, and becomes absorbed into the marginalized subculture pondering over the phenomenon of adaptability.

Siren Bird, the sweet singer, by means of its ghastly song used to bewitch the spectator and invite him into the kingdom of death also in the author's early paintings. However the motifs of irresistible thirst for survival muffled it more often. At that time he was fond of showing impassable places where only the Spirits of Nature were able to find their way to the fireplaces of human dwellings lost in a dark field. The prose of worldly out-of-the-wayness where "the silent prohibition to live differently stiffens the air" was usually concealed under a cover of mist. However Golub has been always able to promote the real motif of light in the symbolic space.

His twinkling fires, too weak to get through the twilight, seem to be alive. In some out-of-the-way place they still warm their "potato eaters". Who knows? Maybe under the circumstances of futile life, they are happy there and believe, unlike the inhabitants of new plots of "Urban Folklore", that "a Bird of Paradise will come at dawn and sing songs. And the night will be as day".