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Henry M. Robert

Mosaic from straw, tapestry and carpets made by Nina Saienko

Noted Ukrainian artist and art expert celebrates her anniversary and invites everyone to her vernissage
29 January, 2014 - 17:50

The exposition is called “Nina Saienko’s Sunny World.” The artist’s best works will be on display at the National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art (the residents and guests of Kyiv will be able to see the jubilee exhibit till February 12).

Saienko’s artwork has won recognition at the numerous nationwide and international exhibits in famous galleries in Paris, Erfurt, Magdeburg, Athens, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Sidney, Canberra, Moscow, and Yekaterinburg. Her textile works and mosaic straw pictures are decorating numerous museums and private collections in Ukraine, England, Australia, Canada, Germany, the US, Russia, and France.

When you feast your eyes on pieces of textile art created by the Merited Worker of Art of Ukraine Nina Saienko, who is not only a famous artist, but also a well-known art expert, director of large-scale artistic actions, museum expert, consultant on decorative and folk art, it seems that you plunge into the endless sea of the crafter’s artistic dreams.

Her feelings give birth to beauty – ornamental-singing carpets and pictures encrusted with straw, which seem to contain the Ukrainian soul. That is the reason they find way to the hearts of the visitors who honor and appreciate Nina Saienko’s oeuvre: from thematic-figurative tapestry (Cossack Ballad), festive and at the same time lyrical ornamental composition (Festive, Rosy Blossom), tone combinations with a complicated range of colors and harmony (Veil, Blackthorn, Wedding) and elfin fabulousness of carpets (St. John the Baptist Night, Princesses) to the pictures executed by mosaic laying of straw with vivid laconism of composition (Magic Potion, Forest Rhapsody), exquisite stylization of the shapes (Sunrise, A Meeting), special rhythm (Mosaic, An Ornamental Flower), restrained noble colors (Water Goes Down from Beneath a Sycamore), echo of traditions of her native Sivershchyna (A Bird in a Circle, Autumn). Enchanting works created by the talented artist is a pure source to get to know her artistic world.

Nina Saienko’s talent is like seed that fell on a good soil, shot green leaves and blossoms with tender flowers, and her character indisputably bears imprint of her father’s creative work – folk artist of Ukraine Oleksandr Saienko. His monumental decorative paintings and panel pictures, easel painting, watercolors, drawings, carpets, cloth prints, straw mosaic, which he created at various stages of his creative path – entire versatile craftwork created by Oleksandr Saienko, focused on folk sources and inclined to the topics of people’s folkways, has, without doubt, a unique national character of sensing the world, perception of nature, and attitude to native land. This is a kind of spiritual atmosphere, whose presence is clear in his best works – perfectly complete gesso works of the 1920s, genius interpretation of purely Ukrainian ornament in cloth prints of the 1930s, poetic carpets of the 1950s, innovative mosaics, encrusted with straw of the 1960s-1980s, which impress with glittering of golden light.

Saienko’s national idea became a leitmotif in Nina’s creative work as well. The daughter inherited high emotionality, sensibility, and lyricism from her father – a great gift of God, which is the groundwork of true creative work. Oleksandr and Nina’s works have much in common in the ornamentally arranged rhythms of the works, decorative planes, images-symbols which are beyond time and exclude everything unnecessary and accidental. Such features as generalized form, major colors, successful combination of statics and dynamics in creation of composition are Saienko’s features. Oleksandr Saienko passed to his daughter the peculiarities of national character, which are hard to sense and are fixed on the level of ancient archetypes of world perception, which is called the spirit of the nation.

Owing to her father Nina mastered the system of artistic values already at an early age. Her world perception and life instruction, which were thoroughly positive, influenced her world outlook. For Nina there could be no better studios than the school of Oleksandr Saienko’s mastery. No academy or institute could give Nina the spiritual treasure he passed over to her. Therefore her father’s authority has always been absolute for her.

When you ask Nina Saienko about her childhood in Borznia, Chernihiv oblast, you most often hear the recollections filled with her deep love and piety to her father (unfortunately, Nina’s mother died when the child was only 10 years old). According to Nina, Oleksandr Saienko was kind and tender, and he cared about his daughter to much, like a mother. This had far-reaching consequences for developing the character of the future artist, art expert, and public figure Nina Saienko.

In her turn, she was always perceived like a perfect daughter, who was always identified with her father. Since her childhood she always accompanied him and took care of him like he took care of her when she was a child. In fact, it was owing to Nina that Oleksandr Saienko stayed in touch with the “great world”: the daughter was his “mouth,” “ears,” i.e., a guardian angel, and most importantly, his favorite pupil and inheritor of the Saienko spiritual treasury.

A member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine and the National Union of Folk Craftsmen of Ukraine, Nina Saienko, whose merit is organization of numerous exhibition projects in Ukrainian House in Kyiv, and successful supervision of cultural actions beyond Ukraine, is a very energetic person.

Tender with her surrounding, Nina is a strong and willed person who overcomes all obstacles. Namely she in our cruel time, when you need to be very courageous to help others in trouble, initiated the first artistic studio for children with hearing and speech impairment in Kyiv. She created the studio with a humane mission to develop the talents of artistically talented deaf-and-dumb children, with whom Saienko is able to speak, because her father had the same disease and the daughter had to learn this specific language in childhood. Nina believes that Oleksandr Saienko’s creative destiny may become an inspiring example for the students of the studio – a beacon that will help them find their creative and life path.

In the jubilee year I sincerely wish Nina Saienko inexhaustible energy, fulfillment of all of her grandiose ideas, and everlasting joy of creation. And a long, full of bright events and meetings, life with her family, in which she is happy with her wonderful grandchildren Sashko and Sofiika, wonderful son-in-law Anatolii and her closest person, her daughter Lesia Maidanets-Saienko (Barhylevych), who paves her professional path from her grandfather and mother. Lesia, an artist by profession, assistant professor at the department of artistic textile and costume design at Kyiv-based Mykhailo Boichuk State Institute of Decorative and Applied Art and Design, Ph.D. in Art History, is Nina’s regular companion-in-arms in all of her art projects and a real inheritor of traditions of the famed Saienko dynasty.

By Zoia CHEHUSOVA, Merited Worker of Art of Ukraine. Photo illustrations from Nina Saienko’s private archive