Gallery "Mastatstva", Minsk, Byelorussia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Byelorussia, Minsk, Byelorussia
Russian cultural Centre,
Byelorussian Stock-Exchange Bank, Grodno
"Amatininkai" Gallery, Vilnius
"Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius
Museum of Contemporary Art, Minsk, Byelorussia
"Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius
"PFEIFER" Gallery, Olsten, Poland
"Znad Wilii" Gallery,Vilnius
"U Maistra" Gallery, Grodno, Byelorussia
"LTS" Gallery, Vilnius
Show room of Byelorussian Artists Association, Grodno,
"ART" Gallery, Olsten, Poland
Show room of Byelorussian Artists Association, Grodno,
Days of Culture of Beylorussia, Moscow, Russia
Republic exhibition "Beylorussia for third Millenium", Minsk,
Group exhibition of painters of
Russian cultural Centre. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania,
"Intoxication with Eros". Tyzenhaus Gallery, Grodno, Byelorussia
"Festival of National Cultures" Gallery of the Byelorussian Union of
Moscow International Fine Art Salon of the Central Artists Gallery -
2000, Moscow, Russia
"Museum of Modern Arts Presents", Polotsk, Byelorussia
"Luftic" Gallery, Warsaw, Poland
"Limit of Millennium", Museum of Painting, Minsk, Byelorussian
" A.Mitskevich's 200th Anniversary, "Znad Wilii"
Lithuanian Art'97/ Galleries present, Contemporary Art
Group exhibition, Warsaw, Poland
"Byelorussian Artists in Lithuania", Vilnius
"Water, forest, picture", Gorzov Velkopolski, Poland
"20+20", Grodno, Byelorussia
"Chernobyl - Pain and Hope", Minsk, Byelorussia
Group exhibition, Minden, Germany
Group exhibition, Aachen, Germany
"Masters of Byelorussian Art", Vilnius
"Byelorussia palette of the 20th century", Minsk,
"Zhyve Belarus", Republican exhibition, Minsk, Byelorussia
Group exhibition, Minden, Germany
Group exhibition, Choping, Sweden
Group exhibition, "Arka" Gallery, Vilnius
"Zhyve Belarus", Republican exhibition, Minsk, Byelorussia
Art exhibition "Byelovezha - 90", Byelystok, Poland
"Casandra call", Minsk, Byelorussia
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,
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
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
All rights reserved by
V.Golub: Merging Two Epochs
by Nadia ANTONCHIK
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
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 Seeing-off of Birds. 1997
Amber Coast. 1997
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.
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.
Apple Tree. 1998
Full Moon. 1999
Evening Melody. 1998
Melody of Silence. 1998
Girl and... 1985
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
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.
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.
From Series "Sand Castles".1998
From Series "Sand Castles".1998
Indian Summer. 1998
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".
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.
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.
Winter Mill. 2000
Evening Tea. 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".
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
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".