Winter has many faces. For some prosaic folks it is the summerhouse buried in the snow and traffic jams on icy roads. But for romantics, it is the orange flames of sunset on a white wall, mysterious purple shadows, and scattered cold stars in a January sky. It is easy to spoil yourself with the whole beauty of winter charm: you simply have to visit the exhibit “Winter Show” at the Mystetska Zbirka Art Gallery. The artistic vision of the winter from various regions of Ukraine reproduces the variegated chronicle of the year’s severest and coldest months.
The organizers have gathered works of Ukrainian classics from various generation: the exhibit includes paintings by famous masters of the Soviet “thaw” period as well as canvases by modern artists, whose names are well-known thanks to numerous Kyiv exhibitions. It is pleasant that such different works are united by a very high professional level: the connoisseurs of good art will surely appreciate the quality of the paintings, carefully picked for the sophisticated viewers.
A very wide range of style is typical for the “Winter Show” and embraces paintings from classical realism to impressionism.
A fine example of realism is an exquisite landscape Winter by Serhii Shyshko, created in the 1950s, and also a miniature canvas by Yevhen Volobuiev Sr. Outside the Village with a very simple plot (two dogs that run along a snow-covered path), which was created in the late 1970s. The impressionist effluence and spectral purity of colors will please the viewer’s eye in the landscapes Winter Evening by Anatolii Kryvolap and Morning Stillness Spread over the Village by Ivan Marchuk.
Analyzing the exhibit in general, it is hard not to notice that the attention of the audience is purposefully attracted to works of the Transcarpathian school of painting. An encounter with the works of these talented masters will probably touch the viewers’ souls the most. One can see here paintings by outstanding classics: Yosyp Bokshai, Zoltan Sholtes, Fedir Manailo, Adalbert Marton, and also their followers from the next generation of artists.
Yosyp Bokshai, who was born in the last decade of the 19th century in near Rakhiv in Transcarpathia, received education at the Budapest Academy of Arts, where he was taught by famous Hungarian artist Imre Reves. Right after graduating from the Academy (1914), Bokshai went to the World War I. In the spring of 1918 he came back to his native Transcarpathia and dedicated all his creative effort to art and teaching ever since. Bokshai was awarded the title of People’s Artist of Ukraine, Honored Artist and member of the Academy of Arts for many years of his creative activity.
Zoltan Sholtes was one of Bokshai’s disciples. He is represented at the exhibition with the landscape In Winter, portraying a frozen river and a thin wooden bridge spanning it. The artist created a series of beautiful Transcarpathian landscapes, among them Winter in Verkhovyna (1953), Winter in Zhornava (1959), Kolochava in Spring (1960), and Rakhiv Plains (1962). Today, the artist’s best canvases are located in reserves of the National Art Museum of Ukraine, the Transcarpathian Art Museum, and the Horlivka Art Museum.
By the way, Sholtes became one of the founders of the oblast branch of the Association of Artists of Ukraine and the Transcarpatian Art Fund and received the title of Honored Artist of Ukraine. According to his son’s memories, Sholtes maintained artistic and friendly relations with many art classics: Tetiana Yablonska, Mykola Hlushchenko, Serhii Shyshko. Of course, he had the most intimate communication with Transcarpathian masters: Bokshai, Erdeli, Manailo, Kashai, Habda Sr., the Kontratovych brothers, Petki, Bakonii, and Hliuk.
Winter Landscape, presented at the Winter Show, was created by another representative of the Transcarpatian school, Volodymyr Mykyta, who absorbed much from the artistic experience of Erdeli, Bokshai, and Manailo.
In the painting Winter Landscape, a viewer sees steep mountains with snow-clad slopes, and lonely houses with colorful roofs, scattered in the snow. The whole composition is gathered in a single piece thanks to the intense linear rhythms, and even despite the fairly small size of the painting, a viewer still gets an impression of the monumental expanse. Mykyta honed his artistic skill at the art school in Uzhhorod, where he was directly admitted as a third year student. In one of the interviews the artist recalled that he quickly made friends with his teacher Erdeli at the school (“He took interest in me and called me Mytaiko”) and watched the older painters’ artistic practices with great attention. With time, Mykyta found his own style, after imbibing the best of the heritage of the Transcarpathian school founders. It is remarkable that at the age of 82, the artist practices yoga and Tibetan gymnastics, takes icy showers and believes there is no point in waiting for happiness: one must create it, just like beautiful paintings.