Eugène Janko, Belarusian painter and political refugee exhibits his works at the headquarters of the Humanity association, at 58 rue de la Loge in Montceau-les-Mines.
A moving and meaningful moment for this painter, who arrived in 2019 for this first exhibition on French soil.
Indeed, when he arrived in 2019, Eugène quickly joined the association’s social café with his family to share moments of exchange with new people from all walks of life who allowed him to familiarize himself with the language in a caring environment.
He was able to reconnect with painting during these weekly meetings.
The association develops the “Make a wish” action for ten people. It is in this context that this exhibition takes place..
We therefore met Eugene in the premises of the Humanity association for a discussion with the intervention of a Russian interpreter.
Why and how did you get to Montceau-les-Mines when you come from Belarus, it’s not the first destination you think of?
I arrived in France in August 2019 with my family. As a political opponent, I had to flee Belarus so as not to end up in prison. I asked for protection from the French State, which granted us the status of political refugee. First arriving in Paris, then Dijon, we were redirected to Montceau-les-Mines. From now on, we live in Blanzy.
How did you come to painting? And why painting?
Very early, since childhood, my mother took me to see exhibitions twice a year, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I have always evolved in this cultural bath, painting. Finally, it was obvious.
For 26 years, Yauheni has been painting and he signs his paintings Eugène Janko.
How would you describe your art? Your influences? Your inspirations?
During childhood, I was passionate about drawing and then about impressionism and abstraction. Then, one day, I saw in a magazine a painting by a French painter, Rosa Bonheur, “Ploughing in Nevers”. It’s really one of the paintings that influenced my future creations.
30 years later, by force of fate, I find myself in Burgundy where this painting was painted!
What feelings, what message or emotions do you want to convey in your works?
Every day, we experience it differently. We feel different emotions every day, each painting expresses a different feeling.
When I paint a landscape, I will leave my feelings on the canvas, when I realize the action and observe Nature. It is a question of matching these two moments where the perception of things and the feeling converge.
What techniques do you use? And what is your creative process?
I use oil on canvas. That’s all.
I travel a lot. I walk, I take long walks.
The paintings exhibited here are from around Blanzy. When I find a beautiful landscape, I make a sketch, a sketch and then I take photos for the details.
Especially in winter, photos.
But I search for a long time for a landscape that I reproduce without adding elements. He is as he is. It is a long work of observation which requires great meticulousness, precision and concentration to find the right colors and the right tones and to account for the light.
How has your practice evolved over time?
Like every painter, each new painting is a step forward. Each painting as a new experience. My tastes, my influences have evolved over time. I gradually turned to realism to specialize in landscape painting. A landscape is calm and soothing. In several years, the tranquility of the place will be the same…
What are your projects ?
I want to do what I was doing in Belarus. That is to say, to paint, to be a painter as for 26 years. Continue !
Can’t we not mention the situation in Ukraine? Proximity to Belarus?
It’s hard to talk about it. Many Belarusians are helping Ukraine and many have died. Some of my friends died alongside the Ukrainians. Belarusians hope that Putin’s defeat will end the dictatorship in Russia and Belarus.
“My Fatherland, you are very dear to me,
I don’t have the strength to forget you” (Yakub Kolas)
The Humanity Association
The Humanity association, created in May 2016, has the main objective of creating links between refugees and the host society. The HUMANITY association works for the autonomy of refugees by acting with them, and not in their place.
“We offer French as a foreign language courses, settling-in assistance, psychological support”.
The association develops its missions around 4 poles: Solid’Air, Social, FLE – training of volunteers and Cultural – awareness.
Visit of the exhibition: Humanity association, 58 rue de la Loge, Montceau-les-Mines
→ Wednesday, July 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
→ Friday July 8 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.