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Alexey Zhdanov

  • artist
  • poet
1948 – 1993

Artist, poet.

Member of the art groups "Pluralis", "Form", "Korvus Tsekus" ("Blind Crow").

His work became part of that unofficial art of the critical period of the 1980-1990s, which today is called the Belarusian avant-garde or non-conformism. The artist in his most often paintings and collages created a parallel world, a closed, hermetic, non-communicative environment, embodying not only the reality he created himself, but also the everyday life he perceives. In his work, gray everyday life was intertwined with the space he created and captured.

Strange and even scary people, urban landscapes appear in Zhdanov's portraits and landscapes. This is the author's urban space, inhabited by "mutants", which is lost in time, which draws its meaning from the feeling of the social collapse of the past and the present day, the lost future. This world is built on "burnt" sensations, refracted reality, identified by the artist through his strong and ambiguous emotions and memories. Here we see a rather abstract narrative not about the place marked on the map, but about the atmosphere of emptiness, hopelessness and at the same time, oddly enough, an ironic view of what is happening [1].

The works are in private collections of Artur Klinov, Andrey Plesanov, Alexander Ivanov, Evgeny Ksenevich.

Lived and worked in Minsk.

automatic translation


Selected events

Selected Artwork Series

Selected artworks

Associated institutions

Associated Documents


Selected dates:


Born in Khabarovsk (USSR, today Russia) in the family of a military topographer.


The family moves to Minsk.

Since 1966

He studied at the evening philosophical department of the Belarusian State University. According to Professor V. A. Dunaev, who turned out to be Alexei's classmate, philosophy was taught poorly to "evening parties", but Zhdanov showed himself unusually bright and lived ecstatically. He was always with new poems, demanded involvement in his creative process, he was sharp, quick-tempered and scandalously extravagant. He combined literary experiments with immoderate alcohol consumption.


For systematic absences from classes, formally for failing an exam in the history of the CPSU, Zhdanov was expelled from the university.

Before 1970

He served in a construction battalion in Sosnovy Bor near Leningrad. In the army he continued to write. Army poems have been preserved, but Aleksey Zhdanov never remembered the service, he said that there was nothing to remember.


Zhdanov was restored to the 3rd year of the Belarusian State University, but in the 4th year he was again expelled for absences.

The 70s were the pinnacle for Zhdanov the poet. Against the backdrop of Brezhnev's new frosts, Alexey tried to arrange a spiritual refuge, a poetic "burdock where you can just lie down with your legs outstretched."


He ended up in Yakutia, in Kolyma, in the camp of "scourges", on the verge of extinction in an alcoholic marginal dead end. From Kolyma, I sent envelopes to friends with poems and no factual information. The land and the "heirs" of the Gulag hooked.


He returned to Minsk and published a self-made collection of Kolyma poems. He became close to Kim Khadeev and people of his circle: the poet Grigory Trestman, the psychiatrist Viktor Kruglyansky, the neurosurgeon Yuri Serdyuk, the polyglot linguist Boris Galushko, and others. He married I. Mayorova, but the marriage was soon upset.


Aleksey Zhdanov wrote his best poems, which basically made up his two posthumous collections, the first of which, Selected Poems (1993), the poet managed to collect himself.


Under the threat of imprisonment for parasitism and forced treatment for alcoholism, Zhdanov "filed" and was baptized in Orthodoxy along with Natalia Tatur, who in the 80s took an active part in his fate, was his muse and guardian. In collaboration with Tatur, he wrote the play "Grandma on Passage".

Translations from Belarusian by Ales Ryazanov, met the poet and spoke highly of him. Aleksey offered translations approved by the author to journals, but they were not accepted.

For several years Zhdanov lived dry, did not drink, but there were almost no poems. He led a secluded life, worked as a watchman, went to visit - at night. In the summer, he went to shabashki - meetings of nonconformists.


A new artistic period in the life of Alexei Zhdanov. Events in the pandan "perestroika" are developing intensively and rapidly. Aleksey quickly converges with representatives of Minsk unofficial art: A. Klinov, S. Malishevsky, V. Chernobrisov, I. Baradulina, A. Plesanov, V. Martynchik, I. Kashkurevich, L. Rusova, etc. Joins the "Form" association, "Pluralis" and "Corvus Caecus" (White Crow). Takes painting lessons (undergoes educational program) from V. Evseev and V. Martynchik. Participates in significant, turning points in the artistic life of Minsk in the late 80s - early 90s: in the exhibitions "On the Collector" (1987), "Perspective" (1987), "Panorama" (1989), etc. Writes letters to Raisa Gorbacheva and Zenon Pozniak. Goes to civil disobedience. Participates in the organization and conduct of an unauthorized procession dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Marc Chagall. Starts drinking again. He builds objects, collects collages and writes, writes non-stop, dozens of paintings. He makes trips to Georgia, Dagestan and Estonia, to Leningrad and St. Petersburg. Friends with Mitki. Establishes and expands creative connections. In the end, he distributes brushes and paints and is going to continue to write only poetry again.

September 20, 1993

Tragically died in Minsk. The day before, he knocked on the door of Khadeev in an unconscious state and spent the night on his floor. And in the morning he went to get drunk in the barracks of the neighbors Dolnikovs, who lived in an apartment with earthen floors, because the floorboards had long been replaced with alcohol. Here, drunk, Lyosha dropped his head on a tub of cabbage. The edge of the tub pinched the carotid artery. Death came from suffocation. He was buried according to the Orthodox rite and buried at the Northern Cemetery in Minsk [2].


The collection "Selected Poems" was published posthumously. During his lifetime, he practically did not publish, although many knew about his unique poetic gift and copies of the poet's poems went from hand to hand among the creative intelligentsia.


In the publishing house "Technoprint" under the patronage of a friend of the poet Nikolai Kozlov, a collection of selected poems by Zhdanov "The Western Pole of the Earth" was published.


A retrospective group exhibition "Belarusian Avant-Garde of the 1980s - 1990s" was held.


The Museum of Modern Fine Arts hosted a retrospective "From the Life of Mutants, or Memories of the Future" with the artist's works from private collections.


The artist himself spoke about his work and about himself:

“I was born on the day when my great namesake Andrey Alexandrovich Zhdanov, the main Stalinist kulturtrager, died. After that, my whole life passed under this terrible, black sign of my great namesake. And somehow I define my life in these gloomy and inhuman coordinates...

I'm not interested in people, I don't portray people. In general, art does not depict people ... I am concerned about mutation, it is the mutation that began in the 17th year and continues to this day, and what I depict is mutants ... these people do not exist and never have been ... mutation ... "


[1] Fragments of the text by Olga Rybchinskaya are used in the material – ©

[2] From the text by Dmitry Strotsev "ALEKSEY ZHDANOV Yod MINSK SCHOOL", 2013 – ©

automatic translation
  • belarusian avangard
  • brutalism and thrаsh
  • canvas
  • collage
  • figurativeness
  • graphic techniques / drawing
  • landscape
  • language & literature
  • metaphysics
  • mutations / pathologies
  • naive and primitivism
  • non-conformism
  • oil
  • portrait
  • post-soviet
  • scenic practices & techniques