Exhibition: – 8 Jun 2014
Thu 17 Apr 18:00
ROSPHOTO. State Museum and Exhibition Centre for Photography
ul. Bolshaya Morskaya, 35
daily 11-19, Thu 11-21
The State Russian Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSPHOTO
ul. Bolshaya Morskaya, 35
daily 11-19, Tue, Thu 11-21
State Museum and Exhibition Centre for Photography ROSPHOTO
Ministry for Culture of the Russian Federation
Yevgeny Kozyula. The Origins
18. April – 8. Juni 2014
Opening: April 17, 2014, 6 p.m.
Yard Building Exhibition Hall, 2nd floor
The exhibition comprises the photographs by the renowned Byelorussian photographer Yevgeny Kozyula from ROSPHOTO’s collection, dating from the 1960s–1990s. The visitors to the event will see important photos from the major series, covering Yevgeny Kozyula’s oeuvre from the first steps as an amateur photographer to his rise to a professional photojournalist. The featured pictures vividly illustrate the artist’s interests, creative endeavors and reflections on the nature and essence of photography.
Yevgeny Karpovich Kozyula was born in Minsk on December 18, 1936. He began studying photography at the age of 14. During World War II his family stayed in the Yaroslavl Region and returned to Minsk in 1944. A photo by Kozyula was first published in 1957 in Znamya Yunosty (Banner of Youth) newspaper. In the early 1960s Yevgeny did his military service in East Germany, where he used to photograph his comrades-in-arms as well as the places he visited during the trips. It was then when Kozyula found his true vocation as a photographer. Later he worked at an automotive equipment maintenance plant and at a design bureau. In 1965 Yevgeny became a member of “Minsk” photo club and in 1971 he took part in the first (of the four) Photografika exhibition. Those photo exhibitions were considered the symbol of Byelorussian photography school of the 1970s–1980s and earned it fame throughout the Soviet Union. In the 1970s Yevgeny Kozyula was elected the President of “Minsk” photo club, while in 1975 he began to work as a photojournalist for Golos Rodiny (Voice of Motherland) newspaper and then collaborated with the Byelorussian Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (BelTASS). Kozyula has participated in over 120 personal and group, national and international exhibitions.
Only memories and photographs have remained of what was once a vast Soviet country and from old photographs only we can now learn about our past. Not so much time has passed, it seems, but the subjects, aesthetics, and, more important, the attitude of the photographers and artists towards life around them has changed once and for all. That is why the images in the old photographs that have been preserved by a lucky chance, are not so much a documental record of the epoch that ceased to exist, as the pictures of a mythical country reviving something almost forgotten and even irreversibly lost.
At a first glance, the majority of Kozyula’s works seem to be ethnographic-oriented: they depict different places with their own customs and traditions as well as a variety of local characters. However, at a closer look you can see something of much greater importance behind the captured subjects. It is something that is more than just real life reportage – it is a visualization of the artist’s philosophy and world outlook, a careful visual contemplation on the origins of the humanity, on the homeland and Earth, and on the people that inhabit it.
The subjects of Kozyula’s works are seemingly simple, but there is a true story behind each of them, witnessed and captured by the artist. Yevgeny Kozyula has traveled a lot around Byelorussia, and each shooting provided him an opportunity to get acquainted with interesting people and to discover new beautiful and unique corners of his native land. It appears that now it is not so important where this or that landscape photo was taken or who was depicted in a picture – an ordinary farmer or a folk crafts artist. What is essential is the spirit of homeland, rendered by the photographer. Kozyula has managed to capture those elusive images of the fading past, may be not aesthetically perfect, but leaving an imprint on the hearts of the viewers.
Another group of works by Yevgeny Kozyula can be referred to aesthetic experiments typical for the fine art photography of the 1960s-70s. Many Byelorussian photographers contributed a lot to the trend during the 1970s presenting their works at the four International Photografika Festivals in Minsk. However, even in those rather experimental pictures we can see Kozyula’s empathy and particular interest towards the history of his homeland. In his works Kozyula attempts to restore and revive our common past preserved in the ancestral memory of the nation to which the artist belongs.