Exhibition ‘The Fragrance of Freedom’

Exhibition of artworks by Belarusian artists in Warsaw

On July 18-23, the exhibition of artworks by Belarusian artists ‘The Fragrance of Freedom’ is taking place in Warsaw. There you can see dozens of artworks, inter alia, paintings, protest posters and even carpets.

According to the organizers, the aim of the exhibition is to show Belarusians that they are numerous and to unite creative people for the Museum of Free Belarus in Poland.

The organizer (and an exhibitor) of the exhibition in the Belarusian Youth Hub is the artist Syargey Stalmakou. Now Syargey lives in Bialystok and wants to unite all the artists who have emigrated. Despite the small area of the exhibition venue, the number of the exhibited artworks would be sufficient for a real serious exhibition: there is hardly enough wall surface to place all the artworks. 


Сергей Стельмаков
Syargey Stalmakou

“It was my personal initiative to start uniting the Belarusian artists living in forced emigration. Therefore, I was doing everything by myself. I was looking for the artists and was making arrangements with them and the venue”, the organizer of ‘The Fragrance of Freedom’ says. “The exhibition will present the works by about ten artists. Alena Byarezina will present some of her carpets with ornaments that used to adorn the walls of village houses. Uladz Bokhan will exhibit his paintings; you will also see the graphic works by anonymous artists who currently live in Belarus. The exhibition will also include the large-size artworks by Katsiaryna Vadanosava and other objects. In terms of mood and style, the exhibition will offer plenty of variety. One thing unites all these artworks. It’s the artists’ reflection on what is happening now in Belarus and Ukraine, their internal response to the dismal developments in recent years”.

The mood of the artworks is completely different: some artists release the accumulated aggression, others paint vivid pictures in the moment of inspiration or express irony using imagery and allusion. Since creative work is the best antidepressant regardless of the mood that a painting has in the end.

“It’s hard to find a person not affected by the current events, and every person has been going through these two years in their own way: everyone had both times of depression and emotional uplift. Since one cannot live in a state of permanent pessimism and struggle, in two years this could have caused a complete emotional exhaustion, Syargey Stalmakou says. “That’s why not all the exhibits express a direct protest against the dictatorship or the war in Ukraine. For instance, the national costumes by Katsiaryna Vadanosava just reflect the internal state of a Belarusian who, because of what is happening now, had to leave her country and start all over again.

According to the organizer, every effort is being made not only to unite the creative Belarusians in exile, but also to draw attention to their art of all those who are not indifferent to the repressions in Belarus.

- “This “Fragrance of Freedom” arises in every person only at the moment of internal struggle, when a critical mass of negativity accumulates, which eventually "spills out". In 2020, Belarusians felt what it was like. At the moment of an emotional outburst, every creative person expresses what is happening through their work, this is a means of communication with the environment and, at the same time, therapy. I want every visitor of the exhibition to understand the feelings experienced by the artist. And I hope this will draw attention to the work of the Belarusians in Poland, both from the Belarusians themselves, and from the Ukrainians and the Poles”, summed up Syargey Stalmakou.

The self-taught artist Uladz Bokhan, one of the exhibitors, says he plans to tell Western audiences about the dictatorship in Belarus and Russia. Uladz paints surrealistic pictures, but admits: “It is not always possible to understand whether all that’s happening is surrealism or realism.”


Uladz Bokhan

“I’ve been living in Poland for almost a year: in Belarus, my charges include Articles 293 and 342 of the Criminal Code. Those who left in 2020 were lucky, because they did not see the height of the repression. Indeed, when the security forces broke into my place through the window and the door at the same time, I even breathed a sigh of relief, because the worst thing is waiting for them to come after you. After that, I left, because, being free, I can do something useful”, the artist recalls. “With my works, I want to show the Western audience what a dictatorship is and why victory over it will not happen at the snap of a finger. My struggle goes through art, since 2020 I have been dedicating my work to the revolution only; in my work, I record what is happening. Now I set myself the bar: every week I have to do complete one piece of work”.

The artist Mikhail Prakapenya has presented his abstract works. He was forced to leave for Poland, where he works as a painter at a construction site, makes custom-made sneakers and sells his paintings in parallel.


Mikhail Prakapenya

“With my works I want to show that I exist and continue to create, despite the fact that I had to leave Belarus. We keep creating and therefore we’ve won. I used to draw political pictures, but now I prefer to go into abstractionism: it’s more difficult and interesting,” Mikhail Prakapenya comments.

View more
Alexander Adamov:
Alexander Adamov: "The future will be"

А.А.: "Probably, I can be described as a new person who was placed in some kind of environment, but he does not understand why the environment is as it is, has such mechanisms, such rules..."

Youth Salon
Youth Salon

A puzzle without elements, elements without a puzzle