Meeting with the Master
About a trip to the exhibition of May Volfovich Danzig, held at the National Museum of Belarus in Minsk in the fall of 2015 and dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the Master.
We planned a trip to the anniversary exhibition of the national artist of Belarus May Volfovich Danzig at the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus from the very moment we learned that it will be held in the fall of 2015. I really wanted to get to the Opening of the exhibition on October 15, but our own exhibition in Moscow did not allow this to be done. However, this turned out to be for the better. Firstly, we came to the museum on a rainy weekday exactly 10 minutes after its opening, and although there was already a small queue at the box office, there were still no crowds, journalists, hundreds of admirers of the talent of the wonderful Minsk master. And secondly, and this is the most important thing, we managed to see May Volfovich, who already managed to take a break from the busy pre-exhibition week and from the many-voiced and bustling festive atmosphere of Vernisage, at his house in a warm friendly atmosphere and talk about a lot: about the exhibition , about creativity and just about life.
Fate brought me to this amazing person in 2011, when my colleagues and I arrived in Minsk in search of material for an exhibition of Belarusian artists in a private gallery where I worked. May Volfovich first struck me himself during the first meeting in his studio. A man of extraordinary energy, great liveliness, whose speech is a fascinating stream full of interesting life stories, sparkling humor and philosophical, not for a second boring thoughts, many of which may well become historical aphorisms. Listening to Danzig is almost a gastronomic pleasure – the more you listen, the more you want to hear. And about childhood, and about the last train on which the family fled from Minsk the day before its occupation, and about studying at the Surikov Institute in Moscow, and about their own creativity, and about art in general. And when at the same time you also see his paintings – here the figure of the Master appears before you in all its greatness and uniqueness.
On this visit, we were struck by the artist’s graphics – we had not seen her before, and in full she was exhibited for the first time. More than a hundred works (pencil, pastel, charcoal) of the 1950s and 70s include portraits, genre scenes, household sketches, theatrical costumes, made incredibly technical and accurate, but at the same time creating a feeling of lightness. Each picture is a live picture, where emotions are conveyed so realistically, and the details so reliably convey the atmosphere that you unconditionally believe the Master, who takes you to that distant time.
And yet Danzig is better known for his monumental works of both the Soviet and the modern period. The museum’s collection contains the best works by the artist over the past 60 years, all of them were presented at the anniversary exhibition. Two floors of incredible energy, power and history. Moving from room to room, you meet on huge canvases of strong and beautiful people, big cities, scenes that transmit landmark events – you plunge into the artist’s world, which is full of love for life in all its manifestations. At the same time, May Danzig’s work is not just a story and not just a story of what he saw, it is full of symbolism and additional meanings.
Students on the bridge running towards spring; new settlers who have entered an empty apartment where their new life will begin; a girl on the balcony, watching a young city under construction, a worker with a child in her arms next to a young wife – these are pictures of the 1950-1960s about youth and hopes, about faith in the future and the desire to make it beautiful.
Two halls of the exhibition were completely devoted to the theme of the Great Patriotic War and hundreds of thousands who did not return home from the battlefield. A huge forest of birches, on the trunks of which photos are glued – a multi-meter collage – a tribute to the partisans who died in the Belarusian forests.
May Danzig is an artist with a wide creative range and works in almost all genres, including easel and monumental painting, subject-themed painting, portrait, landscape, still life. For many decades, he writes a kind of picturesque biography of beloved cities of Belarus: Vitebsk and Minsk. Many of his canvases, such as “My Minsk” (1967) and “My City, Ancient, Young” (1972) became classics and entered the gold fund of Belarusian art. In his works, he combines monumental expressiveness and expression of form, subtle color solutions and carefully thought-out camera angles. Despite the laconicism of his pictorial language, Danzig chooses a juicy painting and bright colors, especially highlighting red shades. In his 85 years, May Volfovich is full of new ideas and projects, and we will look forward to new masterpieces.