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

Art without restrictions

New books about artists and their works launched at the Book Arsenal
26 May, 2015 - 11:14

This year many publications about art were launched at the Book Arsenal, a large-scale event, which has been held in Kyiv for the fifth time. The events in Ukraine have had effect on the number of new publications: because of the Euromaidan events the publication of some books past year was postponed, and now a huge number of books have seen the light – the famous names and bright covers make one dizzy. Many books are about the Ukrainian art which was forbidden in the USSR. There have also been attempts to analyze the present-day art process in the country, etc. The Day has selected the most remarkable publications.


The great premiere of the Book Arsenal is Art of Ukrainian Sixtiers published by the Osnovy Publishing House. The work on the publication took three years. It was compiled by art critics Olha Balashova and Lizaveta Herman. Over 70 experts were involved in the work on the book: researchers of art, artists, their friends, and collectors. The book consists of 15 chapters about the artists of the 1960s and the trends of that period, it features reproductions of hundreds of paintings, graphical works, and sculptures. “This is the first book of this kind in Ukraine, and, hopefully, there will be many more publications about the Sixtiers. Many people may disagree with the thoughts of the young artists it presents, but it is always hard to make the first step, and we have made it,” noted Stella Beniaminova, the founder of Stedley Art Foundation which supported the project. The book has been published in Russian, it is also planned to publish an English-language version.


The book Contemporary Art of Ukraine. Portraits of Artists is meant for a broad readership. The author is art expert Halyna Skliarenko, the project is a brainchild of art dealer Ihor Abramovych. The book was published in a family printing-house Huss. The book tells about 19 famous Ukrainian artists, who mostly revealed their talents during perestroika. They include Tiberii Silvashi, Anatolii Kryvolap, Oleksandr Roitburd, Oleh Tistol, Oleksandr Sukholit, Matvii Vaisberg, Maryna Skuharieva, Pavlo Makov, and Vlada Ralko.

The work on the book has been underway for several years. “There is little we can read about contemporary art. Those are either academic articles, or glossy magazines,” Halyna Skliarenko told The Day, “Getting to know works of art should start with the personality of the artists, this is what our book is about. Often life collisions have an effect on a person’s creative work. If the audience knows something except for the work, it gives a key to better ‘reading’ of the work.”

Halyna Skliarenko is personally acquainted with all heroes of the book. When she started to work on the publication, she revealed that little had been written about these artists. So, the texts are new, but at the same they are perceived easily. The information can immediately be correlated with the works of the artists – there are many illustrations in the book.


The Rodovid Publishing House prepared thorough research of theater of the early 20th century. It is the catalog of the exhibit Ukrainian avant-garde of 1910-1920 on stage at the Ukrainian Museum in New York. Seven professional articles, replicas of over 100 works – sketches and photos, unknown facts from the history of art. Les Kurbas, Oleksandra Ekster, Borys Kosariev – their works created in the time of change were revolutionary too, they revive on the pages of the publication.


Art between revolution and war is a project of the Rodovid Publishers and French-Canadian patron and gallerist Pierre-Laurent Boulais. This album features the works by contemporary Ukrainian artists and interviews with them about life in independent Ukraine. The book was written by art critic Natalia Chermalykh. “I have always written about contemporary Ukrainian art which is connected with politics,” Natalia Chermalykh shared, “The way to the materials in the book Changeable Horizon started when I became familiar with the works of the artists. It was important for the works to have a reflective dimension, to be deep and ambiguous.”

The book includes interviews with Mykyta Kadan, Serhii Bratkov, Volodymyr Kuznietsov, Alevtyna Kakhidze – a total of 10 stories. “It seems to me that the intellectual interpretation of the events in Ukraine resembles observation of a landscape. There is no possibility to understand the events, because they are changing all the time,” Natalia Chermalykh explains, “Ukraine for me is a metaphor of a landscape, in which we peep, trying to see something, but are unable to capture anything.” The book will be sold in France, Ukraine, Switzerland, Canada, and the US. A publication is in French and Russian, and it is planned to launch the book in English and Ukrainian in autumn.


The book How to Talk to Children about Art by French writer Francoise Barbe-Gall was translated and published by the Old Lion Publishing House several months ago. How to Talk to Children about Art is an educational program that explains the peculiarities of pictorial art of different periods and reveals the secrets of perceiving the paintings. The book can be useful both for children, and for adults.

As we can see, Ukrainian publishing houses are presenting new books about art for people of different ages, education, and financial circumstances. Some projects are purely educational, others are open to question. So, you are welcome to buy and read the books throughout the year.

By Maria PROKOPENKO, The Day