Culture Day at the International Roerich Memorial Trust
The International Day of Culture at the Roerichs' estate in Naggar was marked by the opening of the International Art Exhibition Project “Art Expedition-2019. Himalayas”, organized by the International Roerich Memorial Trust in cooperation with the St. Petersburg Centre for Humanitarian Programs. Twelve artists from Russia and other countries arrived at the Himalayan estate of the great Russian family to get acquainted with the nature, culture and traditions of the Kullu Valley. They wanted to learn of the life and creative activity of the Roerichs, feel the special atmosphere of these places and try to understand what it is so inspiring that the mountains, the rivers and groves of this valley are filled with. This reserved valley of Gods where the Nicholas Roerich family Roerich had been living for about 20 years.
Artists from Russia, Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia were warmly welcomed by the Indian curator Ramesh Chander and the Russian curator Larisa Surgina, working in the Trust on behalf of the International Centre of the Roerichs (Moscow). Dear guests were presented with traditional gifts of the Kullu valley - colourful Kullu caps and khadag - white scarves, symbolizing the honour, respect and sincerity of human relationships.
The curator of the Trust Larisa Surgina made an excursion for the guests at the Roerichs' estate. Memorial House, Nicholas Roerich’s Samadhi, summer studio, two buildings of the Urusvati Institute... They still keep the special atmosphere of the past years - the atmosphere of creativity and cooperation, bright ideas and high thoughts. And today, the symbol of the Roerich Pact - the Banner of Peace, the Banner of Culture, that was raised by the Roerichs above the Planet in 1935 - flutters near the Roerichs' house.
The continuation of the festival program on the next day was the gala opening of the exhibition of paintings “Himalayas. In search of the image” created by the Russian artist Olga Goncharenko.
It was here, in the Himalayan estate, where a draft of the first international treaty on the protection of cultural property, known as the Roerich Pact, was worked out. Every member of the Roerich family took an active part in promoting the ideas of the Covenant, which can be briefly expressed by the words “Peace through Culture”. The Roerichs were convinced that neither politics, nor economics, nor even religion can unite humanity - only culture will lead people to harmony. Only art, science and ethics stand above all borders and open the gates for mutual understanding and cooperation. Artists Creative Camp “Art Expedition. The Himalayas”, which had already been organized for the second time in the International Roerich Memorial Trust (the first one took place in spring of 2018) is a remarkable example.
After the official part dedicated to the history and relevance of the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace, the teachers of the Helena Roerich Children's Academy of Arts and musicians from Ukraine Tamara and Dmitry Pasechnik, performed their musical program. Pushpa Devi being the soloist sincerely sang in Russian ”Moscow Nights", "Kalinka Malinka" and "Katyusha" - the favourite Russian songs of the Indian teachers of the Academy, which they call "Flourished...". Pushpa singing was accompanied by an international musical "team": a violin and a tabla, a harmony and a guitar sounded in unison. And the artists sang along with their favourite melodies.
Olga Goncharenko received an art education in the Tavricheskaya Art School named after V.Serov (now renamed after N.Roerich). She taught painting, drawing, composition at the Leningrad school of Art, worked in the publishing houses of Moscow and St. Petersburg, participated in numerous exhibitions of painting and drawing. Among the creative achievements of the last year (2018) there are the creation of frescoes in the medieval city of Perinaldo (Italy), as well as participation in “the Art Expedition - 2018. Himalayas”. This year, the artist not only became a participant of the project for the second time, but also prepared a personal exhibition, created on the basis of impressions from last year's trip to Naggar.
In the centre of the exhibition there are the images of Helena and Nicholas Roerich. According to the author, their invisible presence is clearly felt in their Himalayan estate and its surroundings, and the lightness of this feeling, its weightlessness, the artist conveyed in portraits, as if woven from light, but quite tangible and real.
All the works of Olga Goncharenko are permeated with warmth and light. Her paintings reflect the quiet beauty of the Kullu Valley, its soft nature, ancient temples, and the daily life of the inhabitants. The artist gently and harmoniously came into this life, as if watching it from inside. Here is a young woman who sat down on a narrow path between the houses to feed the baby. Her eyes glow with joy, and a passing by girl with an armful of hay responds to this joy . At another picture two sisters are walking along the road. They saw the artist (she remained “behind the picture”), and glanced at her with shyness and curiosity. Or another scene: the man sat down to rest on a brick. And his face is lit up with such light, and glows with so wise smile, and mountains towering behind his back are so majestic, that it seems a holy man or a wise hermit is depicted in this picture. Mountains, snow-covered or green, close or distant - an obligatory attribute of each picture of Olga Goncharenko. The whole life of the Kullu valley takes place against the backdrop of the mountains, and they give a special exalted meaning to everything that happens.
The honoured guest of the exhibition was a resident of Naggar, Ms. Hira Devi - President of the Women's Association, a long-time friend of the IRMT. With great warmth, she responded about the exhibition, noting that the paintings reflect the true soul of the Kullu Valley with its traditional way of life and ancient customs.
The joint project of the International Roerich Memorial Trust and Autonomous non-profit organization the St. Petersburg Centre for Humanitarian Programs submitted by its director V.Vasiliev, with the support of the Russian Embassy in India and the All-Russian Public Organization "Creative Union of Artists of Russia" cultural links will be another significant contribution to the strengthening of Indo-Russian cultural relations. Paintings created by artists - participants of the project “Art Expedition-2019. Himalayas” - will be presented on April 30 at the IRMT Exhibition Hall.
“You have Light through art,” wrote Helena Roerich. The events that marked the Day of the Roerich Pact at the International Roerich Memorial Trust, inaugurated the beginning of the traditional spring Indo-Russian festival of culture, which will be held in the IRMT from April 27 to May 1 and will be devoted to the 140th anniversary of the birth of Helena Roerich - the outstanding Russian philosopher, writer and thinker.