November, 10th - December, 1

To the 110th birthday anniversary of Alexander Ahola-Valo (1900–1997)

and to the 70th birthday anniversary of the researcher of Alexander Ahola-Valo’s creative activity – Lyudmila Nalivaiko


Ahola-Valo – an outstanding figure in the Belarusian fine and visual arts of the 1920s. His creative activity is tightly connected with Belarus, Russia, Sweden and Finland. The studies at the Vitebsk Art and Graphic Studios (1921–1922), and then at the Odessa Art Institute (1923–1925) had shaped his world outlook as one of a versatile person. Alexander Ahola-Valo was showing an interest in realist and avant-garde trends in art, as well as in pioneering approaches of the creation of a modern man.

During the Belarusian period (1920–1930) there was a creative flowering of the artist. Alexander Ahola added to his surname a pseudonym “Valo” – in translation from the Finnish language – “a ray of light”. In 1927 the Minsk Artistic Association known as “Ray of Light” (“Luch”) was organized on his own initiative: the Association’s major aims consisted in the creation of a new artistic environment. The art works of the Association’s members had been shown the same year at the International Exhibition of Graphics in Leipzig.

The art works of the members of the Association – Alexander Ahola-Valo, Nikolay Gusev, Pavel Gutkovsky, Gennady Zmudzinsky, Oskar Mariks and Valentin Tikhanovich – from the funds and archives of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus are being exposed at this Exhibition, bearing a historical and symbolic heading such as “Ray of Light” (“Luch”). They had started as companions-in-arms and like-minded persons, but each of them formed their own creative destiny.

The projects of new decisions about cosmic space were the most influential ones during the Belarusian period of Ahola-Valo’s creative activity while only innovators of the same nature as the author was could dream of it. The artist had become a notable figure in the midst of Belarusian intellectuals. His art works were the illustrations to the books of the Belarusian State Publishing House; one could meet them in the news pages and columns of brochures, magazines and newspapers. In 1963 the print “October” (which was placed to the front page of the newspaper “The Soviet Byelorussia” dated November 8th, 1925) – performed as a linocut – was gifted to the first cosmonaut – Yuri Gagarin – by the author during his visit to Sweden. Today it (the linocut) is preserved at the Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow.

In 1932 Ahola-Valo was evicted from the USSR and he moved to Finland. The Museum named after Alexander Ahola-Valo – where also the art works of the Belarusian period are being stored – exists in the Finnish town of Hдmeenlinna. The photocopies of some of the art works are represented at this Exhibition. Even nowadays art historians are being attracted by the artistic Association “Ray of Light” (“Luch”). In the albums, encyclopaedias, newspaper and magazine published works of the 1990–2000s the name of Ahola-Valo has thoroughly gone into the history of the Belarusian art of the 20th century. The activity of Lyudmila Nalivaiko – who in 1991 has managed to find the artist in Finland and to collect the rich material on the history of the Belarusian graphics of the 1920s – has a special place among the researchers of Ahola-Valo’s creative activity. Alexander Ahola-Valo visited Minsk and Vitebsk on the invitation of Adam Maldis – the President of the International Association of Belarucists – when the First Congress of the Belarusians of the World was held in Minsk in 1995. He had been meeting in person with the art historians such as – Mikhail Borozna, Valery Zhuk, Lyudmila Nalivaiko, Vladimir Rynkevich, Grigory Shauro and Evgeny Shuneiko – who busied themselves with the scientific work and creative activity as well, and who set themselves to both educational and public activities. Thanks to them the heritage and the biographies of the artists of the Association “Ray of Light” (Luch) are being studied and supplemented with new historic facts. Even today the personality of Ahola-Valo is a precise “ray of light”, having been joining creative people for almost two centuries.


The Department of Modern Belarusian Art

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