Yazep Drazdovich was a Belarusian painter, sculptor, writer, folklorist, ethnographer and archaeologist. He was born on October 13, 1888 in bowery Punki, Glubokoe region. Drazdovich was the man who dreamed of space, painted landscapes of Mars and Saturn, the city on the moon when ordinary people didn’t even dream about space flight.
Contemporaries described him as a tall nobleman who always stood out from the crowd (he actually went from the impoverished gentry). His mother became a widow with six children in her arms and lost land. Yazep went to drawing school in Vilna. Later he worked in the publishing department of the Education Commissariat and gave art lessons in a girls' school in Minsk.
After the transfer of Western Belarus to Poland Drazdovich returned home and started educational activity there. He worked with Belarusian Museum named after Ivan Lutskevich in Vilna, studied the ancient settlements, traveled with scientific expeditions in Western Belarus and drew graphic sketches of Belarusian material culture. The archives are kept his manuscript collections of Belarusian songs, proverbs and figures of Belarusian national costumes, objects of peasant life.
Yazep Drazdovich from his childhood was interested in "kasmazorya" and drew life on Mars, Saturn, Moon, imaginary planets in 1930. He was the founder of space theme in Belarusian art. In addition, Drazdovich wrote a work "Harmony of planets in the solar system" which was posted to the Academy of Sciences, but received a negative review from it.
He also designed the first ABC-book in Soviet Belarus. Drazdovich created a series of portraits of Skarina, Usiaslay Charadzei (Vseslav the Seer). In his works he drew landscapes of his homeland, fantastic pictures of other worlds, symbolic and allegorical paintings of Belarus, pictures of Navagrudak, Mir, Pinsk, Glubokoe. Drazdovich wrote a monograph "Theory of motion in the cosmological significance" and other articles on space theme in 1948-1952.
In 1932 Yazep Drazdovich developed a scheme of a city on the moon with pictures of waterfronts, parks, stations, ice arches and bizarre plants. He read a lot of books on astronomy, had dreams about other worlds, and wrote down what he saw. People of unknown race from Saturn, Mars, lakes, buildings, spaceships, which were very similar to those which flew in space in 30 years appeared in his images.
To feed himself the artist traveled from village to village and painted "dyvans" (paintings on painted black canvas) for food, housing. More often people asked him to portray animals, that is why "dyvans" were full of foxes. He also lectured on astronomy and told about sky, stars, planets, the Sun and the Moon to the villagers.
The artist was found by peasants in the bitter cold. He was taken to hospital where he died on September 15, 1954. Yuri Gagarin was launched into space after 7 years of Drazdovich’s death.
In 1982 a monument was found at the grave of Drazdovich in Lipljany Glubokoe region. The sculpture "Eternal Wanderer" (sculptor I.Golubev) was dedicated to him and situated in the Trinity faubourg on the waterfront of the Svisloch. There is a street named after Yazep Drazdovich in Loshytsa (Minsk) and also streets in Orsha, Navahrudak, Maladzechna, Glubokoe were named in his honor.