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QUARTA Gallery presents the artistic and historical project “The Story of a Family”. For the first time, historic documents, photographs and a series of graphic works by the early departed artist Boris Bespalko will see light of day after being in the family for many years.
Boris Bespalko was born in Warsaw in 1914, where his mother taught at a girl’s high school. After the death of the father and husband the family returned to Ukraine, to the small town of Novgorod Seversky, much famed for its architecture and fascinating landscapes. There they settled in the house of Boris’s uncle Alexander Kononenko. This amazing family became the center of the public and intellectual life in the city thanks to the head of the family appointed the director of the boys’ high school in 1917.
Almost every day people came together at the house of Kononenko. The grand piano in the hall came to life and the samovar inspired profound conversations and poem recitals. Meanwhile, the revolution thundered by and then the civil war broke out along with the typhoid and famine.
Boris was sick with leukemia since childhood. Lying in bed he learnt to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and to paint. At school and later at high school his artistic education was monitored by the teacher called Rolyan, one of Repin’s students. Unmistakable talent and unchildlike mindset characterized Boris Bespalko since early years.
In the mid-20s the family ran from political repressions to Moscow area, where Boris graduated from school and entered artistic courses. It was there in 1930-32 that his brilliant series of graphic artworks was born: the family life chronicle. Accurate hand, bright images and juicy humor are the main features of the young artist’s works, whose life stopped short too early because of the illness not letting his gift flourish.
Despite purely ironic views of young Bespalko his pictures reveal an enormous layer of one of the most dramatic eras in Russia’s history. Arrivals, departures, endless moving and attempts to settle down. The short life of the young gifted artist born to an aristocratic family passed in non-stop movement, in the constant flow of events turning upside down not only each individual life but also the whole world. Having started in the Kingdom of Poland, which formed part of the Russian Empire in those days, and ending in the heart of the newly born state of the USSR, this life of mere 18 years encompassed an unbelievable amount of grand events.
Boris Bespalko’s graphic artworks have been waiting to see the light for many years, much longer than the author himself was granted. This is a life story 18 short instants long. They could have slipped away unnoticed but for the remarkable pictures treasured by the descendants for 85 years. Funny and touching images depicted on yellowish paper have become another little victory of life over decay and oblivion. In the most tragic times a smile and artistic talent let Bespalko capture invaluable moments of human relationships, to carry them through decades and bring them to the grateful viewers.
The exhibition will take place in the frames of the Art Salo "Old Paper" at Central House of Artists (Krymsky val, h.10) from March 24 till April 1, 2018. The mezzanine floor, stand 2-3