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All rights reserved. Neither part of the web-site can be presented in any form (printed, electronic, as a photocopy, etc.) without written consent of copyright owner – Valentina Batalkina – founder of museum-gallery.

Work and life of Alexey Petrovich Burlai (29.07.1918 Ukraine – 17.06.2000 Russia)

Alexey Petrovich Burlai began his work life on the outskirts of Zaporozhye as a turner helper at the brick plant of the Karantinka settlement in 1933. In 1934-1938 he studies in Zaporozhye aviation college, where he draws in pencil, paints in oil, which enables him to join the 3th course of the Perm artistic school and graduate the school in 1940.
In 1947 he participates in Zaporozhye artistic exhibition where he exhibits a number of his works. He paints pictures using the material collected in Zaporozhye. In 1950 A.P. Burlai completes the painting «Dnyeproges Reconstruction» and a year later completes the painting «Construction of Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant».
Since 1948 Alexey Petrovich Burlai is a member of the Kazan association «Tatar Artist». In 1950-1953 he is a member of the Union of Artists of TASSR, a teacher of drawing and painting at Kazan Art School.

As early as the beginning of 50-ies Alexey Petrovich Burlai is awarded diplomas at the all-union exhibitions for his paintings «N.S. Khrushchev among reconstructors of Dnyeproges», «Dnyeproges Reconstruction Workers» and «Construction of Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant», «Presentation of the transitory Red banner at communism construction site». These paintings laid the foundation for basic direction in his work: the industrial theme becomes a principal one to be developed later in pictures about oilfield workers of Tataria. Alexey Petrovich often visits Leninogorsk, Almetyevsk, Bugulma and other oil districts of Tataria, lives the life of oilmen and partakes in their daily routine. A number of sketches and portraits of the best workers are reproduced in his pictures. The artist tries to use his immediate experience in the works dedicated to the theme of heroic labor exploits.
In 1952-1953 A. Burlai paints the picture «А. М. Gorki among the writers of the Soviet East», one of his most important works distinguished by clarity of composition and strictness of drawing. In 1954, while creating a canvas «А. М. Gorki and V.V. Stasov at I.Ye. Repin’s workshop», which was exhibited at the All-union art exhibition in 1957, Alexey Petrovich again masterly shows the characters which appeal to the spectators.
In 1954 the picture «Coward» was painted. An important theme is raised here regarding young people who came to reclaim the virgin soil, strong willed people and those who failed.
The artist participates in the republican exhibition in Kazan, in the exhibition of works of artists of the RSFSR in Moscow, where he presents his pictures «Virgin Land Workers», «Mechanic Avdeyev», «Olya», «Tractor Driver Vankov» and others.
Preparation and holding of literature and art decades, meetings, republican and all-union exhibitions, in which Alexey Petrovich Burlai actively participated, show high creative enthusiasm of the artist. The picture «Friendship of peoples of the USSR» painted by A.P. Burlai and P.M. Speransky was made in cooperative association «Labour and Confection» of the Tatar АSSR. Richly ornamented picture shows the representatives of all nationalities of the USSR against the background of the banners on the Red Square in Moscow. This highly artistic work was presented to people of Ukraine from people of Tatar ASSR to commemorate the 300-th anniversary of reunion of Ukraine with Russia in 1954.
The picture «Oil Explorers» exhibited at the all-union art exhibition in 1957 was created on the basis of large scope of data collected by A.P. Burlai in the oilfields of Tataria. The artist did not conceal severe and hard conditions in which the oil explorers had to work. But the heroic spirit of exploit manifests itself for that reason even in a greater degree. Ordinariness and commonness of labor exploit are emphasized also by the character of composition and great number of observed details. While working on this picture, the artist learned a great deal about life and labor of oilmen, became closer to his heroes.
«What a wonderful people, — the artist told after one of his trips to the oilfields. — How they love their work! They soak themselves in their work with all their souls, just like an artist in his picture, wholly devote themselves to it…»
The known art critic L.Yelkovich wrote about the works of A.P. Burlai: «When preparing to the «Soviet Russia» exhibition Burlai again turned to the characters of oilfield workers. Twelve years back in the village of Romashkino not far from Leninogorsk struck the first fountain of Devonian oil. This happened as a result of a long-term hard work. In the most difficult conditions — intense heat, snow-storm, rough weather — the first one-and-a-half kilometer borehole was completed. Thus the development of one of the largest oil regions of the country started. The new picture of Burlai «Oil Extraction» tells about this event and shows the triumph of the achievement. At the same time the artist created a number of landscapes of oil regions of the republic such as «Spring Streams», «Outskirts of Leninogorsk»; the work on them was done in the process of collecting the material to the picture «Oil Extraction».
"An experienced and gifted artist, Burlai is one of the leading painters of Tataria«.(1961, Leningrad, «Artist of the RSFSR»).
At this time the artist paints many landscapes, depicting the nature of Tataria : «Spring Streams», " Roads«, «Spring in Bavly», «Outskirts of Leninogorsk», «Grey day», «Lonely Birch-Tree» and exhibits them at the republican exhibitions. The art critic V. Gevorkyan noted as follows: «…the wonderful and lyric landscapes of A.P. Burlai touch the soul of a spectator, compel to thoughtfully contemplate the picture».
The pictures by A.P. Burlai such as the «Young Communist League Brigade at Tsymlyansk Hydroelectric Power Plant», «First Oil of Tataria», «Spring at the Oilfields» (triptych), were exhibited at the regional, republican and all-union exhibitions.
In 1957 the artist Alexey Petrovich Burlai was awarded the title of the Honored Worker of Art of the Tatar ASSR and Gabdulla Tukai Republican Award for fruitful creative and public activity.
In the «Artist» magazine No.6, 1958 it was mentioned: «At the end of May the commission of the Art Fund of the USSR came from Moscow to Kazan to review the sketches prepared for the „Soviet Russia“ exhibition and selected 16 works, among which were the sketches made by N. Kuznetsov, Ch. Yakupov, А. Burlai, S. Rotnitsky».
During several years Alexey Petrovich Burlai works strenuously, prepares sketches and drawings for the opening of the «Great Volga» exhibition. He completes the work on the picture «In the years of reaction».
In 1961 Alexey Petrovich Burlai participates in the all-union art exhibition in Moscow and exhibits the picture «Native Land».
In 1963 А. Burlai was invited to work in the city of Volgograd. He visited many construction sites, enterprises of the city and the region. The picture «Volzhsk Hydroelectric Power Plant» painted in 1959 depicts the labor exploit of builders in taming the powerful river for the sake of origin of major industrial power-intensive concerns of the city on the Volga River. Historical events are reflected in the diorama «Battle for the city of Kotelnikovo» and pictures «Stalingrad afire», «Battle of the Armored Train near Tsaritsyn», «Island of Lyudnikov», «Red Tsaritsyn».
The known artist of the ХХ century A.P. Burlai often visited his native Zaporozhye land and painted pictures on native topics. With a great love he painted the portrait of his mother, pictures «Bank of the Dnieper», «Native land» and many others. The author made portraits and landscapes with a great professional mastery. In 2008 M. Ibragimov wrote gratefully in the guest book of the museum: «Works of A.P. Burlai are stored in the funds of the Art Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin. The multinational people of Тatarstan are proud of this great heritage».
In Ukraine in the city of Zaporozhye in the motherland of the artist the museum-gallery of applied ceramics and art creativity of Ilya and Alexey Burlai operates for 5 years. The works of the artists in the museum are presented in the form of documentary photographs. Today the pictures of A. P. Burlai are exhibited at many museums of the world. The workers of the museum tell about works of the artists with reverent love, conduct exhibitions, meetings, educate schoolchildren and students, trying to instill in them love to painting and fine art by means of describing the pictures.

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