The Wonderful World of Jazep Drazdovich:

the 130th birth anniversary

(1888–1954)

The time will come... And they’ll come looking for me.

Jazep Drazdovich

Jazep Drazdovich is one of the most important, original and unusual persons in Belarusian culture and art. The master’s creativity is so varied that it seems impossible to attribute him to a single flow, trend, style, or type of activity: Jazep Drazdovich was not only a talented painter and sculptor, but also an outstanding writer, poet, teacher, ethnographer, folklorist, philosopher, palmistry, archaeologists, theatrical figure, amateur astronomer, and the founder of the Belarusian theoretical astronomy. It is impossible to understand how this man, for his short and difficult life, managed to reach such a diversity, promoting the revival of the national culture, comprehending the incredible, opening the door to the future for people and allowing them to dream... That’s why the Belarusian artist and contemporary of Drazdovich, Pyotr Sergievich, called him "our little county’s Leonardo da Vinci."

Аўтапартрэт. 1943

Аўтапартрэт. 1943

Jazep Drazdovich lived in the time of complex historical events: the First World War, in which he was a participant, revolutionary changes, and the Second World War. More than this, the artist faced a lot of challenges: difficult living conditions, hunger and poverty, human misunderstanding and solitude.

Космас. 1943

Космас. 1943

During the life, Drazdovich’s unusual worldview, admiration for space and the planets found no response in his friends and contemporaries, which gave him the reputation of a weird and even mad artist. Until then, no one in Belarus dreamed of space travel or life on other planets, did not think of what Saturn's ring consist or how the Saturninas look like. Such a fate befalls many artists, scientists, geniuses, who are ahead of their time. Misunderstood by people, Drazdovich was gradually turning into a marginalized and lonely man, choosing the path of "eternal wanderer" with endless travel on home soil. During the years of travel, he collected and recorded folklore, compiled dialectical dictionaries, studied archeology, created a large number of graphic sketches and painted carpets.

Today it is impossible to imagine Jazep Drazdovich other than a sage, a prophet who is walking on the roads of Belarus, leaning on his cane, and thus creating a kind of archetypal image that symbolize the way forwards. The earthly journey of this extraordinary man ended on the road, 1954...

Гасцінец. 1925

Гасцінец. 1925

For a long time, the life and work of Jazep Drazdovich, "Uncle Jazep," as he called friends, was not well known. His name became a bright opening in 1984, when the book "Eternal Wanderer" by the famous writer and scientist, Arseny Lis, was released in Belarus.

To date, Joseph Drazdovich is at the center of interest. Various exhibitions, open air events and conferences in his honor are held, monographs devoted to the artist are issued, and documentaries are released. His astronomical hypothesis and dreams of flying into space have fully embodied and continue their further development. Jazep Drazdovich believed: "The time will come... And they’ll come looking for me." The predictions of this remarkable man, the undisputed master and prophet, come true.



Book heritage. Book covers

In 1908, Jazep Drazdovich met with the editors of the Vilnius newspaper Nasha Niva and received the first orders for book covers, released by the Belarusian publisher. In the early 1910s, the artist designed in Art Nouveau style The Nasha Niva’s First Belarusian Calendar and the collection of poems by poetess Constance Buylo, Kurgan Flower. He also made covers for magazines Samapomach and Volny Styag, creates illustrations for Lemantar (ABC-Book) and draws for other Belarusian editions.

Creative writing is an important page in the artist’s life. His first book appeared in Vilnius, 1923, under the pseudonym "Jazep Nartsyzav" and with a cover story drawn by the artist. Big Shots, humorous images of the art school students’ life, were to be the first part of the story Mad without Madness, but this idea was not realized.

The most incredible, interesting and unknown from the entire literary heritage of Jazep Drazdovich are his astronomical studies. In Vilnius, 1931, he published, at his own expense, a small edition Celestial Race, the first book on astronomy in the Belarusian language, which is still a unique publication. It is notable that his mother Juzefa repeatedly told her son: "Learn and know the heavenly race". Astronomical engravings, created by the artist for the book, are especially valuable.

Today, Jazep Drazdovich is considered "the Belarusian Tsiolkovsky," the founder of the Belarusian theoretical astronomy, as his work, hypothesis, opinion, despite the lack of appropriate education, are interesting to researchers in astronomy and cosmology. Over it, the “visionary’s” forefeeling has come true: just in five years after Drazdovich’s death, Sergei Korolev launched the first artificial satellite, seven years later Yuri Gagarin flew in space, and in fifteen years the American crew of Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.

Literature

The life and work of Jazep Drazdovich are today fairly well studied. Especially noteworthy are: an album-monograph Jazep Drazdovich with many reproductions of the artist's works; an essay by Arseny Lis Eternal Wanderer; The Earth and Space of Jazep Drazdovich by the well-known researcher of the master’s legacy, Yuri Malash; The Genesis of the Cosmic Images of Jazep Drazdovich by Galina Goreva etc. One of the most valuable and fundamental is the publication Jazep Drazdovich. Through Difficulties to the Stars, which includes memoirs, articles, dedications, art works of the master, as well as his Diary and a facsimile edition of Celestial Race.

Videos

1. Язэп Драздовіч. Неба і Зямля [written and directed by I. Volokh]
2. Язэп Драздовіч. Летуценні [directed by S. Ageenko]
3. Я вас помню, а вы ўспамянеце, можа [film crew E. Samsonov, L. Yurik]
4. Выстаўка ў Мінску: карціны Язэпа Драздовіча [“The Universe of Yazep Drazdovich”: an exhibition timed to the artist’s 130th anniversary, the National Art Museum]
5. Беларусь на далоньцы – Язэпа Драздовіча [a TV program about the art of Yazep Drazdovich, as part of the children's social TV project “Belarus on My Palm”. Written and directed by V. Tkachenko]
6. Апошняя вандроўка Язэпа Драздовіча [an excerpt from a theatrical monologue about Yazep Drazdovich’s life and work]
7. Макс Шчур. Вандроўнік Драздовіч [a song dedicated to Yazep Drazdovich]

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