PYOTR BELENOK

PANIC REALISM

“His paintings stood out from everything that existed at the time.
We considered him a genius”
— Eduard Limonov
A VISIONARY ARTIST
1938
1991
PYOTR BELENOK
the village of Korogod near Chernobyl, left an indelible mark on the art world with paintings that transcended contemporary norms.
a Ukrainian artist born in
01
Belenok's works,
characterized
by a unique style he termed PANIC REALISM
are now housed in major museums
across Russia and the world. In the auction ranking of Soviet non-conformist artists, he holds a 27th position.
02
The artist's life was marked by disarray, instability, and periods of depression.
It was within these challenging circumstances, or perhaps inspired by them, that the distinctive painter emerged.
03
BEGINNING
BEFORE THE AGE OF THIRTY
04
Pyotr Belenok established
his own workshop in Rivne, initially pursuing a career as a Soviet sculptor. The anticipated success as an official sculptor held little appeal for him.
He became a well-known sculptor in Ukraine. But commissioned sculpting had nothing to do with his broad interests at all. So he abandoned that work.
"
— Vladimir Aleynikov
IN 1967
unexpectedly, Belenok made a swift decision to abandon his sculptor career and relocate to Moscow, joining the Union of Artists of the USSR.
This marked a radical shift in his artistic perspective.
05
Belenok's workshop on Abelmannovskaya Street buzzed with activity. Filled with canvases, boards of various sizes, and countless sheets of paper, the studio embodied a unique blend of anticipation and chaos.
IN THE LATE 60S
06
Pyotr belenok, eduard limonov and Elena Shchapova
PANIC REALISM.
I introduce a new direction in art —
I'm not interested in detailed observations
of everyday life.
FEELINGS
and its problems from
a neutral position in space.
I observe the world
When paired with music, it consistently produced the impression of an exceptionally strange film, edited by instinct, intuition, randomly, yet prophetically.
"
— Vladimir Aleynikov
Resonant Realities
07
Belenok presented his visions to the world, accompanied by music playing from a cassette recorder in his basement studio.
Often featuring the disquieting compositions of his favorite Polish composer, Krzysztof Penderecki,
the artworks and music created a profoundly unsettling yet captivating experience.
time, in everyone’s sight, in view of all,
In his works of that
something exceedingly dreadful was continuously unfolding,
sweep and destroy everything around
irreparable.
something that seemed to
The once indivisible,
strong, and whole matter transformed,
disintegrated into small
pieces, tiny particles, dust, atoms.
It seemed indestructible to
anyone and for anything, but now
IT WAS FALLING APART.
by a universal, pervasive, growing horror, people were scattered everywhere, shocked by what had just happened right next to them.
Disoriented and gripped
Whirling vortices lifted
them upward, carried them far away, dissolved them into space forever
making the
Untraceable.
exhibitions
UNTITLED
1981
JUMP
1987
1987
UTTER JOY
ACTIVE SPACE
1977
1989
UNTITLED
1975
FLYING
BLUE BIRD
08
Exhibitions featuring the works of Pyotr Belenok were a rare occurrence in Moscow, but when they did happen, they left a lasting impression on the city's art scene.
renowned venues like the "Blue Bird" café, known not only for its avant-garde art exhibitions but also for attracting jazz musicians who performed for select audiences.
His pieces were occasionally showcased at
1975
Belenok's exhibitions also found their way into some scientific research institutes,
where scholars immersed themselves in the cultural experience he offered.
LIMONOv and SHCHapova
Beekeeping pavillion of vdnkh. A display of 70 works by 20 artists
mid-1970s
09
As time went on, Belenok began participating
in international exhibitions alongside other avant-garde artists.
unexpected openness in the art world, Belenok, along with artists like Tselkov, Rabine, Steinberg, Zverev, Yakovlev, and others, showcased their monumental compositions at the Beekeeping Pavillion of VDNKh.
In the mid-1970s, during a period of
This unprecedented event drew crowds
of Muscovites eager to immerse themselves
in the vibrant world of contemporary art.
recognition
10
Over the years, Belenok's works gained increasing recognition, appearing in publications abroad and exhibition catalogs.
original and deeply contemporary, who had created a world of his own, dramatic and even tragic, yet unmistakably recognizable by his distinctive style and vision.
Art critics hailed him as a bright master,
LATER YEARS
FIRST MEETING
1987
infrequent sales
While Pyotr Belenok enjoyed widespread recognition,
his artworks were seldom purchased, acquired only on rare occasions.
the mood struck, whether to friends, acquaintances, or even strangers who admired his work.
He didn't hesitate to give them away when
The annual earnings from his sculptures were budgeted for essentials like food and art supplies. Despite his modest lifestyle, Belenok gradually embraced asceticism over time.
abroad. In his homeland, officials remained silent, as if he didn't exist.
While his renown grew, it was mainly
on Belenok, but he found solace in unofficial circles.
This chronic disregard weighed heavily
NEGLECT
11
12
SCULPTING AGAIN
His primary means of support came from the annual commissions he received through the Artists' Union, of which he was a member.
opportunity to earn a living, albeit modestly, by sculpting Lenin once again. Despite his distaste for the task, he sculpted the leader as required, feeling it was the only way.
These commissions afforded him the
13
HOW IT ENDS
WHITE JELLYFISH
1988
UNTITLED
1985
COMPOSITION
1981
FANTASY #5
1981
The Chernobyl disaster horrified everyone suddenly. He'll never be able to return to his native village — it's a zone now. He spoke about it with pain on those days.
"
— Vladimir Aleynikov
In the 1980s
Belenok fell seriously ill with pleurisy while working in his basement studio. Despite his repeated bouts of illness, he remained resilient.
14
On October 21, 1991, he passed away.
recount a hurried trip to the hospital, where Belenok was left alone in the corridor, writhing in agony.
During a severe attack, witnesses
Did they attempt to treat him?
NOBODY KNOWS.
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