Ruslan Vashkevich: Artist's perspective
© Mila, Minsk Cafe Babel "Angel" Nowadays the image of the country is mainly formed by politicians. In case of Belarus it is formed mainly in an inappropriate manner. That is why Belarusian men of culture and art, science and sports (classical representatives of a nation) bear additional responsibility for the promotion of the positive image of the country.
This fact can encourage scientists and sportsmen but that is hardly a motivation for artists.
An artist is to embody his own ideas in creative works and to be determined to that no matter what he is expected to do. That is the opinion of Ruslan Vashkevich who is on of the most successful painters in Belarus. “Ideasness” in modern art becomes as important as aesthetics of the work and technically professional execution.
Ruslan Vashkevichhasfundamentalarteducation. The passion to draw revealed in early childhood so his school year were the beginning of his professional way in painting. First was art study group, than boarding school of artistic specialization named after Akhremchik. Next step was the Art Academy, the Department of Monumental Decorative Art. Studentship was quite complicated. Several times Ruslan was about being excluded but, finally, according to the graduation results he was suggested to have the internship in Hannover (Germany). That internship set up international career of the artist.
"Lady in Red, Red in Lady"
The works by Vashkevich are ironic and to large extent social in terms of the messages they deliver. The public reaction of both ordinary viewer and professional critics varies. Some of them admit that their world-view changes after they visit the exhibitions of Vashkevich; others claim that his works are “provocation and hazard for their inner peace”. His works have already been forbidden to be exhibited because of their risk content ("Lady in Red, Red in Lady" and “Contraband Violet” were taken out of “Biannual of modern art” after the exhibition was opened; “Angel” got refused because of its astraddle position; “Artificial Breath” was forbidden at the exhibition at the “Slavianskyi Bazar”). But Ruslan is still adherent to his main principle to follow the straight path of realization of his ideas. He doesn’t aim at shocking the audience or initiating scandal. He just reproduces what he sees and in the way he sees that. The way people react is their private matter; what is important is that the works by Vashkevich can hardly leave anybody indifferent. Ruslan understands the art, true art, as an elite phenomenon. Elitism does not presuppose the admiration of millions. What is special about the works by Vashkevich is that he tries to get beyond the bounds of classical forms. He does not split the art into genres. And his works being the painting in the form represent something more complex and versatile.
In spite of being highly welcomed abroad Belarusian artist Ruslan Vashkevich remains Belarusian artist. The exhibitions in Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Russia Ukraine, large international projects failed to entice him from his motherland. Ruslan Vashkevich and his family surprisingly still live in Belarus while Belarusian art school is of interest in Europe and that the West provides an artist with better opportunities to earn his living with painting. His opinion is that any Belarusian man of art risks to loose his national identity abroad and to be come “Italian (Dutch, German, etc.) artist of Belarusian origin”.
Another question is why there no proper conditions for flourishing of national art traditions. Vashkevich labels that sat of modern Belarusian art as absurdism. Belarusian art is represented by the personalities but there is no “big national project at the international arena at all”. Staking on sport Belarusian state provides the art sphere with minimum support. Moreover it puts the artists in certain boundaries. A state monopoly on art can be observed in Belarus. The absence of private galleries deprives the painters of alternative. For the note: Ukraine (the country similar to Belarus in many aspects) faces absolutely different situation. The art is if fashion there; this is the sphere for investments what creates favourable environment for the development of national art school. For an example I would refer to a large joint project “Empire Swamps” (Klinov, Vojchenko, Csler and Vashkevich) in Kiev Centre of Modern Arts.
Now Ruslan’s aim is to achieve the same in Belarus. He is more interested in supervision of projects than in possibilities to exhibit his works abroad. Probably, this will be Ruslan Vashkevich who will impart European attitude to the art and put it on the basis of Belarusian art what will mould together a big and spacious maternity hospital where the national art project will be born.