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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

About woman

What “metamorphoses of femininity” were presented at the new exhibit in Kyiv
15 March, 2017 - 18:23

A Scythian Woman by Halyna Sapehina is proudly looking at the visitors. Next to it there is a picture Two Women by Gabriel Buletsa, which shows two peasant women in the field, with one of them holding a huge bunch of flowers. There is a work Ballet by Alina Maksymenko with the dancers whose slim white silhouettes pose a contrast to the red-and-black background. Playful Solokha, a painting and graphic work by Mykhailo Derehus is placed next to Viktor Sydorenko’s office portrait of Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a political Solokha in a sense.

Tens of female images are presented in the artistic project, “Metamorphoses of Femininity,” which has been under way at the exhibit halls of Khlibnia Gallery in the National Sanctuary St. Sophia of Kyiv. This is a joint project of the Direction of Art Exhibits of Ukraine and the preserve, which is realized within the framework of the festival “Princely Family/Regio Genus.” Its purpose is to show female presence in Ukrainian art in the period since the end of the World War Two till now.


Over 100 works are on display at the exhibit. “There are no literature moves in the design of the exposition. We sought to show the bright works created during the period from the late 20th century till today. These works were created both by women and men. We show them in interaction, mutual influence, and mutual rejection in some ways,” Olena ZIKEIEVA, deputy head of the Direction of Art Exhibits explains.


The works can be conditionally divided into several groups by subject and refer to various social roles and models of woman’s behavior. For example, a preserver, mother, and heroine of production. One of these categories was outlined spontaneously – the portraits and self-portraits of female artists. All these groups are placed in a mixture, not in a chronological order, thus the plots are contrasting and encouraging discussions.

Incidentally, since the fund collection of the Direction of Art Exhibits was formed from state purchases, the exposition enables one to evaluate the type of state order for female topics during the late 20th – early 21st centuries.


The fascination with life is felt distinctly in the works by Olena Pryduvalova from the series “Kyiv People.” The pictures were created at the beginning of this year. The street scenes with women wearing puffer jackets and kerchiefs, a cafe sign, usual outdoor umbrellas of the cafes and merchants – all this is taking place nearby. The artist adds festivity to the usual images, and the viewer can feel the joy. Near these works there is Olena Pryduvalova’s portrait created by her husband, artist Oleksii Apollonov.


“My view of Ryta and Ryta’s view of herself,” artist Ihor Kanivets described two works from the exposition, according to Olena Zikeieva. The first one is Hanging Ryta and the second one is Warm Water III by Marharyta Sherstiuk. It is interesting to juxtapose different viewpoints.


In the hall of graphic works the scenes from the production are presented as well. At a plant, where people seem so small in the background of various constructions, two women in working outfits are sitting on a tube and emotionally discussing something – these are Friends by Fedor Makhonin. Next to it there is A Break, a somewhat touching scene, where the workers have left their work achievements for the routing joy of lunch. “It wasn’t on the surface of our fund collection. We opened folders, looked through the deposit for interesting fresh works. I doubt that these works have been displayed before,” Olena Zikeieva commented.


One can see a few pictures by Paraska Plytka Horytsvit, an ethnographer, artist, and writer, called “Hutsul region Homer.” A small project about her appeared at the exhibit owing to Sviatoslav Yarynych, head of the department of culture-education and exposition work of Sophia of Kyiv. These photos are a small part of Paraska Plytka Horytsvit’s oeuvre. The unique materials were preserved at the artist’s house in poor conditions, they were damaged, and now enthusiasts are trying to restore and conserve them. One photo shows a family gathered at a New Year’s tree, another one – a smiling married couple in the yard. One more shows a woman feeding hens, with one of them sitting on her head – they seem like friends, as well as the plant workers.

By Maria PROKOPENKO, photos by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day