Valentin Bernadskiy’s poetry of painting
The name of Valentin Danilovich Bernadskiy, one of the most prominent Crimean painters, is uttered by his fellow-painters and admirers with sincere respect.
He is a man of rare spiritual power, deep encyclopedic knowledge, strict and demanding of himself and others, sensitive to falsehood and lack of professionalism, but always ready to help, support, teach—these are the qualities of his character well known to his colleagues in the art of painting.
You seem to know the artist perfectly well, but while visiting his next art exhibition in turn you discover his talent and stand gazing at his canvasses, not only at the new ones, as if you saw them for the first time. And you do not stop discovering. What is it that attracts your attention, casts a spell over you? What kind of man is this enthusiast who charms without any refined manners?… Is this simplicity? Or perfection?
Or precise representing of production, lack of salon romanticism of the theme and urging for spectacular stylistic reminiscences. You can hardly find some simple definition to his popularity. But a moment comes when you feel like drawing up a complex chain of most brilliant individualism of the Master. Not only because the painter is already ninety. When speaking about Bernadskiy it is more correct to say «still». Because you clearly see how great is the creative potential of the man, making the environment free from everyday routine and commotion. The environment which combines spiritual intellectualism and refined lyric intonation. He creates, but is far from exploiting once found manuals of art. He is so absorbed by the life in all its manifestations that actual impressions naturally flow onto the canvas. And their artistic realization urges us to brighten the level of our own absorption of beauty and harmony of the world.
Here it is – beauty and harmony of the world. Might it be the key to the secret which cannot but be found in true art? Might be… The Master’s words support the idea, have always been inspired, like a child, by the eternal, ever bright Beauty of Life, Nature, and I try as hard as I can to reproduce on the canvas the Beauty and Harmony given to us by God.»
A lot of people see and enjoy the beauty of the nature and of the man. But only a few are endowed with a gift to discriminate between the real beauty and seeming beauty. And in this way they become pioneers in representing the real nature with the help of their own feelings, professional skills which without spiritual attitude are nothing but craftsmanship. There is no doubt that Bemadskiy is a pioneer.
The sources of human and professional qualities of each of us are in our childhood, no matter how commonplace it may sound.
The childhood of now the People’s artist of Ukraine, People’s artist of Russia, Honoured artist of the Crimea and the Crimean State Prize laureate Valentin Bernadskiy began in a small village of Ozeryane, Bobrovitskiy district of Chernigov region, where he was born January, 13,1917 to a family of a parish schoolteacher. It was a large and friendly family. The father and his five sons, the sixth, the youngest, daughter were fond of Ukrainian songs, music, and poetry.
Everyone in the family played a musical instrument and with years they had become a music ensemble which performed not only folk songs, dance melodies but also not very complicated pieces of Mozart, Dvorak, Brahms. Schubert. People all over the district got together to listen to the family ensemble. They were often invited to take part in festive concerts in the district centre.
Valentin Danilovich recollects how he went out of doors and with the sinking heart admired the view of the patriarchal village on the bank’ of a quiet forest river with surprisingly transparent water, a small wooden church built long ago by Zaporozhye Cossacks. Everything around breathed the dreamy Ukrainian poetry.
Once the boy tried to draw everything he saw around.
And he was surprised – he did it! Tried to copy Taras Shevchenko’s portrait from the book – the likeness was gained seemingly with no effort.
And then the book «School of painting- by Alexey Petrovich Eisner, a Leningrad painter, found itself in the hands of the youngster. The boy had read it and on the last page he saw the author’s request to send him the boy’s works for criticism.
Without long thinking but with little hope to get an answer the sent a letter and his unsophisticated «ketches to the professor. Quite unexpectedly and to his great surprise he got the professor’s answer and detailed criticism of the works of the young painter. They began exchanging letter and after several letters of criticism Alexey Petrovich suggested die boy coming to Leningrad to study painting in his studio.
That was his lucky chance. The professor treated the young boy as his own son, took care of him bringing him up. teaching him the ABC of art.
Then he became a student of the Leningrad Art School. After the 3rd year of studies the young man w as enrolled as the first year student of die Painting department of the Academy of Arts. Valentin was a zealous and industrious student. The achievements were so great that he, a second-year student, got the personal Stalin scholarship which was” usually granted for great achievements in studies only after the 3rd year of studies.
The war interrupted his studies. He suffered the hardships of those years in full, went through the tragedy of the war blockade. In 1942 together with the Academy of Arts the young man was evacuated to Samarkand w here he had to join the army, finished a military school of intercommunication service and was appointed to the 4th Ukrainian front. He took part in military actions as a soldier of a special mountain infantry- brigade.
“I deeply respect this talented artist and in his portrait I tried to depict a powerful, resolute and zealous creative personality…”
Their pupils who have become prominent painters confess that they spent in Simferopol the years of truly creative education developing their abilities.
At present the former teachers of the college — Valentin Bemadskiy, Fyodor Sakharov, Victor Apanovich, Nikolay Bortnikov, Tatyana Kuznetsova, Margarita Borisova, sculptors Leonid Smerchinskiy and Lidiya Ushakova, have asserted themselves as the founders of the Crimean school of art. This galaxy of energetic, talented artists has had a tremendous impact on the formation and development of Crimean creative group of artists.
The life of every creative person develops step-by-step. The period of teaching has come to an end. Valentin Danilovich is fully absorbed by his creative work, plunges into painting, paints much en plein air-, carefully and enthusiastically analyses different trends in the art of impressionists, old Russian and West-European masters.
Valentin Danilovich defines his own ambitions, realizing how much it is to be done so that to master all the shades of color, coloring, tone, plastic art, composition – everything that characterizes a true master who has found his own peculiar style. He comes into a long period of searching the means of realization of painting – plastic beauty of the nature. It proved far from being simple to work out «the integrity of vision» and depict through direct
the exact minute absorption of the environment the powerful colorful sounding of the world. He realized: there is no end to perfection, the only thing that exists is striving to this ideal which lasts all your life. And this aspiration never leaves him, filling his creative work with new motifs, subtle nuances of life observation.
Valentin Bernadskiy has mastered to perfection all the genre paintings: thematic picture, portrait, landscape, still life depicting the eternal theme of Man and Nature.
The pictures poetically depict the working days of those who work in the fields, of combine operators, orchard workers, wine-growers. A sharp romantic note is heard in the epic pictures.
Portrait occupies a very special place in Bernadskiy’s creative work. He is superb in this genre, obtaining not only total resemblance of appearance (which he considers absolutely necessary) but bright imaginative revelation of the man’s inner world. He has painted a portrait gallery of his countrymen: actors, artists, people working in the field of culture, science, as well as corn-growers, military men… He has asserted himself as a Master of deep psychological analysis.
In landscape, still-life Bernadskiy is a subtle colourist. In each of his work he achieves powerful, true colour sounding alongside with sharp drawing of the form, precise colour and composition.
Bernadskiy’s works are very modem. They reflect the active author’s worldview – organic blend of artistic creative work and life processes the way they are.
It is no mere chance that in the Book of opinions – an indispensable attribute of any exhibition – there are so many rhapsodies: Thanks for the joy of Life that can be found in any stroke of the brush of your palette, for the brightness of your feelings, bright faith and hope in eternal, everlasting”.
«I have seen your works and wished with new energy to live and work», — this is the reference of the patriarch of Ukrainian painting Mikhail Deregus.
«It is a great joy to see the real art, say the People’s artist of Ukraine V. Znoba and the People’s artist of Ukraine T. Golembiyevskaya.
A painter feels happy if his contemporaries appreciate his work at its true value. Valentin Danilovich Bernadskiy deserves this happiness. One hundred pictures are included into the golden fund of museums of Ukraine and Russia. Collectors of France, Great Britain, Holland, Japan, Italy, Greece, the United States are proud of having in their collections works of the painter of such a rank.
On the invitation of the French firm «Arcole» Valentin Danilovich worked in Paris for seven months and then his pictures were exhibited at the show «Drue», where in due time the canvasses of Monet, Renoir, Sysley, Pizzaro and other impressionists were displayed. The exhibition The Bernadskiys: Father and Son» in London was a success. Valentin Danilovich’s younger son Gennadiy has taken after his father, he lives and works in the city of his father’s youth – Saint Petersburg now.
Art critics of all trends cannot but find in Bernadskiy’s painting various attractions. They agree in one: only the Master who lives in harmony with himself and the world around him can achieve unique harmony that gives the spectator a rare peace. No doubt, the beauty of Art is inseparable from the beauty of the painter’s heart.
Valentin Bernadskiy’s pictures are full of high poetic feelings and great amount of optimism, faith in primordial generosity and kindness of the world, affirmation of its eternal everlasting values.
You cannot but feel delight on the account that the creative activity of the ninety-year-old Master is still on the way — it is in its prime, daring like in youth, powerful, zealous like in his heyday. Valentin Danilovich is not among those for whom the passed years have proved to be a burden, they are wings. These are no fine words and an image. These are qualities of a personality who has felt and realized his concern in the genuine art. Creating this art. You can often hear, «time will separate seeds from weeds, genuine from forgery ». It’s really so. As well as the fact that people will judge of the Crimean art at the end of the XXth and the beginning of the XXIst centuries correlating it with the activity of Valentin Danilovich Bernadskiy, an honest artist and a noble man.
In the portrait of Victor, my close friend, I tried to feel and represent the creative tragedy of this talented artist. I remember when one day Fedya Zakharov entered my studio, saw the portrait of Apanovich on the easel and suddenly…burst into tears…
My life, it’s no dream.
The man is always longing for home. It happened so that at the age of ninety I found myself in the place of my youth – in the village of Medvezhye, Chernigov region. Got out of the car and fancied myself a little boy on the bank of a quiet forest river with exclusively transparent pure water. Caught the modulating sound of the church bells spreading in the air, the voices of my parents, brothers and sisters… I felt as if there were no passed years full of bitter losses and joy of finding the lost, hardships, victories, disappointments and creative revelations. Suddenly I felt the eternity of being alive, everlasting essence of Nature. I have been worshipping the Beauty of Nature all my life and I will never stop doing so. I realized that then in the far away childhood patriarchal poetry came into every cell of my body and my soul.
I stood staring at the street of my childhood. The regular countryside life was going on around me. Grown ups came to greet the visitors, full of curiosity children ran up. And I gazed at the new houses and fancied our hut, thor-oughly whitewashed by my mother. I saw my father on the porch and his children who ran out of the hut to say “Good bye” to him. I was among them.
My father was a teacher of the parish school, conducted the choir which was famous all around for not only the church singing during the services but for the moving performance of folk songs.
Danila Bemadskiy. a former clerk of the revolutionary’ committee was sentenced by the fascist occupants to be shot but was lucky to escape. He took holy orders as a clergyman but in 193? shared the lot many church people and was sent to a Stalin concentration camp to never come back.
The life was hard, we starved. There is no pen to describe all our hardships. And you hardly ought to – so much is written about those years. I thank my destiny that my mother, my brothers and my sister managed to cope with all the difficulties and hardships. Our parents taught us up to be friendly and responsive and this had helped. Everybody took care of himself as well as of the relatives. With deep gratitude I remember my parents, ordinary people from a village, but how wise they were, how intelligent which comes not from education but from a kind a sympathetic heart.
I’m also grateful to my fate for a chance to meet a remarkable person – Aleksey Petrovich Aysner who had invited me to Leningrad, sheltered me at his home and patiently taught a fifteen-year-old lad from a Kuban farmstead the ABC of painting. Most remarkable people got together in his house in the city on the Neva river – artists, musicians, writers. I listened to their talks holding back my breath. That was a true school of life. I was eager to know as much as the visitors. That’s why I read much though I took to it already in my home-village. I came to know that I slept on the sofa where Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky used to sit when a guest at the Aysners. I fancied him in the room which proved to be my shelter. My first teacher was quite an extraordinary person. He was a high skilled professional and an intelligent teacher as well as very sensitive and attentive. But for that special man I don’t know what could have become of me. Till now I feel deep gratitude to him and love him like a son loves his father.
Then followed the years of study at the Art school, Academy of Arts, war, blockade, evacuation to Samarkand along the road of life, service in the army.
During the war I served in (he intercommunication units and celebrated the Victory Day in the Prague. And then again I was a student of the Academy of Arts in the studio of the outstanding painter Boris Ioganson. It was an excellent school and remained such for the rest of my life. All my fellow-students have become famous painters: Ur.Tulin, A.Levitin, V. Zagonek, M. Tmfanov, N. Kopytseva, N. Veselova, 0. Lomakin, G. Chepets.
Alter the years of study at the Academy of Arts in a group of graduates I was assigned to work at the Nikolay Samokish Crimean Art school. Among those who had arrived then to the Crimea were painters F.Zakharov, V. Apanovich, N.Bortnikov, T.Kuznetsova, M. Borisova, sculptors LSmirchinsky and V.Ushakova. They stayed in here for good. Our best graduates are the pride of the Crimea as well as the pride of the whole Fatherland. Among them are: Mamchich. Sokolov, Bakayev, Lagno… When a college student I met my true companion and my wife, and a talented painter too, Nina Stepanovna who gave birth to my two sons. She has always been my first onlooker, adviser, critic… My elder son Igor has chosen his own career, the younger – Gennadiy has become a painter. He has gone through an excellent professional school, worked out his style, his own hand. I’m proud of his success.
“How wonderful it is to come back to real art in your paintings! Fine perception of light and color, virtuosity of plying the brush leave an unforgettable impression from your canvasses!», — Primachenko, Moscow artist.
What is more significant and important for a painter than such a high estimation of his work? Especially for the exacting painter like Valentin Danilovich, and he’confirms it:
It’s important for me to know that my work, thoughts, feelings find a response of the people of different trades, that they share my ideas and, while leaving the exhibition, take away with them kind feelings. And they may begin loving Nature, Man, Life more than ever. 1 have been painting not only because this has become the sense of my life. I want to make people appreciate Beauty and Life, the feeling I experience every passing minute.
I stood on the bank of the river of my childhood and my life was passing on in front of my eyes as if I were watching a movie. The past and present confused in my mind and my heart. It goes without saying that I wanted to see my future. Then the idea to publish the album of my works – grand total of a long stage of my creative activity which I would like to continue endlessly…
And then followed the exhibition in Kyiv. It was beyond my imagination. I was surprised to see in the halls of the Museum of Modern Art boys and girls from my native village. Hundreds of kilometers separate it from the capital but they were delivered in order to see the pictures of their countryman. I was gazing into their faces and was delight- countryman. I was gazing into their faces and was delighted to notice that my pictures did not leave them indifferent to what they had seen, they aroused their interest and they showed it sincerely and childishly. That was a treat to my heart. Unforgettable minutes. A precious gift.
Holidays pass away only too soon. I am to work further. And even- day 1 come up to the easel, mix colors for them to get alive and continue to live on the canvass in their own way. I’m happy to be able to work. And to the fact that at my side there stands my son’s easel with a just started next picture. There is a part of me in his success – it was my brush with which he had made his first strokes. And now he is a recognized Master in Petersburg – in the town of my student’s youth.
No, my life is no dream. It is a rapid stream carrying away year after year. And we are in the dark about what to expect behind the next turning of the winding channel.
We shall find out when we reach it.