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Art without borders: paintings for visually impaired in Minsk

Paintings of about ten Belarusian artists will appear in tactile interpretation. Among them are works of Ivan Khrutsky, Leonid Shchemelyov, and Genady Drozdov. These peculiar bás-reliefs are made specifically for visually impaired art connoisseurs. They can feel landscape, portrait, or still life details one by one and thereby “read” a painting.

Thus pictures remain on fingertips. This is a very humane idea – art that may and must be touched. New forms are thus given to already well-known shapes. The works of famous Belarusian artists are brought into relief.

Olga Shamshura, member of Invisible Paintings project:
Every author puts in their own view of a painting and decides how to show volume, shape, and color.

Tactile interpretations, or reliefs, of well-known paintings are now being made by ten artists at the same time. These analogs are made for visually impaired people. First 3D paintings appeared about a year ago in the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Anna Belogurtseva was a pioneer in this genre.

Anna Belogurtseva, member of Invisible Paintings project:
Artists were to choose paintings from the National Art Museum exposition to let blind people know them.

Masters make sketches of clay and plasticine. Then, these models will be cast in plaster, faience, or papier-mâché.

A full-fledged collection of paintings for visually impaired people will appear in Belarus.

Lyudmila Skradal, head of Invisible Paintings project:
People can feel, understand all the figures, details and nuances an artist has put into a work.

This trend is new to Belarus, so a specialist from Ukraine helps Belarusians. He has made such models of Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, and Kazimir Malevich paintings. Mikhail  is convinced that texture, perspective, and even color can be felt with fingertips.

Mikhail Pluzhnik-Gladyr, artist (Ukraine):
Surface texture may have associations with color. For example, roughness is warm, and smoothness is cold.

Nevertheless, it is visually impaired people who understand the music of color. Patricia listened attentively to the description of the painting Vozvrashcheniye (Return). She felt protuberances as if she read the painting word by word. Then she said: “Touching art at least this way is amazing.”

It’s common knowledge that art has no boundaries. But the most important thing is that now Belarus is one step closer to erasing barriers.

Invisible Paintings project