Press Release

Aрка, pronounced Arka translates from Russian into English as ‘Arch’ and is the title of an international exhibition/project which was conceived and co-organized by Irish artist Séan Hanrahan with Belarusian artist and lecturer Roman Sustov. The exhibition/project is also organised in collaboration with “EKAPRAEKT”- international non-government organization working on strengthening cross-cultural and scientific connections between Eastern Europe and the EU.

Aрка/Arch as a title, has a ambiguous meaning. Aрка/Arch can be seen to reference the building of cultural bridges through creative exchange, in this case between Belarus and Ireland. Aрка/Arch also references Arch, as in an architectural feature that provides structural integrity; some work in the exhibition will reference this. The work presented in Aрка will represent the academic tradition of graphic work from Belarus and the eastern region of Europe.

In addition to the exhibited works Roman Sustov will create an image/symbol, which will be designed into a flag and flown at Elizabeth Fort in Cork City during the duration of the Aрка exhibition/project. This flag will be both a promotional tool for the exhibition/project and also a symbol of Backwater Artists Group’s ongoing connection to and relationship with the fort, following on from the elsewhere exhibition held there in 2017.

“The work presented in Aрка, represents the deep historical roots of Belarusian printmaking and graphic work. The beginning of Frantsysk Skaryna’s activities is considered to be pre-eminent in this history. In 1517 he published the first Bible in Old Belorussian language. Title sheets, letters and illustrations were made with the woodcut technique. Under the direction of Skaryna, many books were published; he designed a new type of press, which improved the quality of printing.

In the 17th century, large printing workshops were established in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: in Vilnia, Mogilev and Gomel. Developments in the techniques of engraving on copper improved greatly. The integration of architectural elements into the plastic language of composition has become a distinctive feature of Belarusian printmaking. The main representatives of this style for the following centuries are Tomasz Makovsky, Maxim Voschanko, Hirsch Leibovich and Napoleon Orda.

In the 19th century, the first department of printing and was opened in Vilnia University under the leadership of Isidor Weiss. Here, training was based on the artistic aspect of printmaking techniques. The first lithograph workshop was also established.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Belarusian artists choose printed techniques to create their artworks. Etching techniques were widely developed during this period as seen in the works of Yazep Drazdovich, Mihas Sevruk, Yosef Ozemblovsky. Artists also returned to using woodcut and linocuts techniques. Art prints were exhibited at art exhibitions together with paintings. At the Vitebsk Art and Practical Institute, the Department of Graphics and a lithography workshop were established. Outstanding printmakers of the 1920s-1940s are Y. Gorid, P. Gutkovsky, N. Golovchenko and N. Malevich.

After the Second World War, the Graphic Department of the Belarusian Academy of Arts began its work in Minsk. A combination of the classical academic school of Russian drawing and the formal composition of European institutions created a unique fusion in visual language. The most prominent representatives of the post-war school are Georgi Poplavsky, Arlen Kashkurevich and Ludwig Osetsky, who worked in the techniques of linocut, lithography and etching.

In the 1950s, Dmitry Molotkov developed new printing machines, which enabled and helped create complex multi-layered works of art. One of the main features of this period was the development of colour lithography. The continuers of the Belarusian graphic traditions are Valery Slauk, Vladimir Vishnevsky and Yuri Yakovenko.

Currently, Andrei Yaroshevich, Roman Sustov and Fedor Shurmelyov teach and lecture at the Academy Graphic Department. Silk-screen printing has not developed or is widely used as a medium in Belarus. However some artists work in it, most notable Vladimir Tsesler. In Belarusian contemporary printmaking, constant experiments with forms and technique is combined with a complex structured academic school.”

Roman Sustov

Sept ’18


Séan Hanrahan graduated with a degree in Fine Art Printmaking from the Limerick School of Art and Design Ireland in 2005. Projects/exhibitions include: the 2018 188th RHA open submission exhibition, Dublin; Hermione 18 invited Artist curated by Aisling Prior Alexandra College, Dublin; Over the Sun (Kazimir Malevich his Legacy and influence on Western Artists) Selected and organized by Séan Hanrahan, Participating artists Séan Hanrahan IRE, Dominic Fee IRE, Josh Dannin U.S.A. V.C.C.A (Centre for Contemporary and Modern Art) Vitebsk, Belarus June/July 2015; Night Frightens the Day/Калі ноч палохае дзень VCCA (Centre for Contemporary and Modern Art) Minsk, Belarus June/July 2015.

Roman Sustov has been a member of the Belarusian Union of Artists since graduating from the The Belarusian Academy of Arts in 2001. He mainly works in print graphics and book illustrations. He has worked with many publishing houses in both Belarus and Russia where more than twenty books are published with his illustrations. He exhibits both nationally and internationally and his work can be found in private collections in the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Japan, Russia and in the Contemporary Fine Art Museum Minsk, Belarus.



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