Belarus was the cradle of the Russian avant garde at the beginning of the twentieth century. The artistic climate at the time brought forth such artists as Chagall, Malevich, Zadkine and Soutine. At the present Belarus is the last dictatorship in Europe. Fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin wall, socialist realism still reigns supreme. Both of these developments have had a lot to do with the Belarusian national character. Igor Tishin, one of the most important representatives of the present Belarusian painting scene, is trying to demonstrate this. His work is a great investigation into Belarusian identity.
As a painter he is exploring the collective awareness of his native people, where Chagall always turned his somersaults, where the 19th century naive folklore coloured life, but also where Soviet dogma is still knocking about. Many of Tishin’s paintings depict heads. They are surrounded by associated colours, stimulating texts by Oscar Wilde and metaphors for the capricious Belarusian spirit. Tishin makes comments, associations and provocations, rashly breaks his own stylistic forms and fights tooth and nail for the preservation of his dreams and for the original cultural conscience of his people.
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