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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

Dynasty of artists

Retrospective exhibit “The Hodunovs: Three Generations” in Museum of Russian Art
3 June, 2014 - 11:12

From May 17 till the beginning of June visitors were able to see the best works of the three artists of the talented Hodunov family: Oleksandr, Larysa, and Iryna. The advantage of the exhibit is its analytical cross-section: the audience, when looking at paintings, graphic and pastel works, involuntarily compares the authors’ styles of the three masters in the background of impressive fundamental semblance notices the unique character and style of each of the masters.

The oldest representative of the artistic dynasty is Oleksandr Hodunov, Larysa’s father and Iryna’s grandfather. He was born in 1916 in a peasant family with many children. Having lived for 86 years, he has managed to preserve and embody in creative work the living ingeniousness and purity of the world outlook: the love to all wonderful manifestations of reality. It especially refers to nature: the flowers and fruits are depicted in the best traditions of realistic painting. Maybe, if inquisitive audience decides to compare the still lifes and landscapes by Oleksandr Hodunov with paintings of the artists of the 19th century, the recognized models of classic realism on display in a regular exposition of the Russian museum, the quality level will turn out to be the same. This evaluation is well-deserved, because all of Hodunov’s canvases are painted very thoroughly, with typical for the old school thorough and careful attitude to the model, and at the same time they are emotionally filled with that primary joy and power, typical of the nature itself.


Interestingly, the artist did not paint only the Ukrainian Dnipro, but also the corners of the Baikal difficult for access: looking for new impressions, the master tirelessly explored the most various corners of nature, without depicting a man in his pictures. Chronologically his painting is divided into different stages with different stylistic approaches; professionals will probably note the value of the works painted in the 1950s – small canvases Sheaves and Sunray, as well as the landscapes The Psel River and Windy Day, created 20 years later. And the splendid still life Summer with grapes and wine, depicted in the black background in a restrained and refined manner, seems very natural on the museum walls, because the professional level of this work is very high.

Oleksandr’s daughter Larysa has inherited the openness to impressions, ingeniousness, and sensitiveness in depicting the mood of nature. However, unlike her father, she prefers cityscapes, which is why old Kyiv has been a longtime honorable guest of her pictures. For her whole life the artist has been turning to architecture motifs, her canvases are very accurately reproducing the details, and the audience immediately recognizes the landmark spots of the capital.

A graduate of the National Academy of Fine Arts And Architecture, she acquired much experience, which is valuable for a young painter, when she was studying at Tetiana Yablonska’s studio. Still lifes, landscapes, portraits, thematic pictures, and graphic works are most numerous in Larysa’s creative work. The exhibit shows the series “Kyiv Landscapes,” where Larysa’s different approaches to depicting the city, its mood, and atmosphere can be seen. It is typical of the artist to combine polar features – color emotionality and ascetic graphic restraint, namely owing to talented harmony of these features her landscapes impress with a special monumental power. A Path to the Rose Garden is an exclusion from the strict urban topic. Here the artist has depicted an alley of the Botanic Garden, which leads the holidaygoers to a magnificent rosary, a symbol of beautiful, cherished dream, in a broad and sensual manner.


Painter Iryna Hodunova’s work is represented in a most versatile manner in the exhibit: wonderful still lifes, realistic portraits, fantastic abstractions, and icons are on display.

To supplement the fullness of Iryna’s artistic life the photos of monumental murals of Catholic churches are on display. They are huge in terms of scale and highly professional in terms of quality cycle of works, which deserves to be exhibited separately. After Iryna painted the Carmelite Church in Berdychiv in 2004-08, she got an invitation in 2013 to paint the St. Alexander Church in Kyiv. In the photos the audience can closely see not only the thematic plots, but also the details which are located high below the vault of the church. The charming faces of six-wing seraphs, painted against the intense blue and indigo background, are wonderful due to individuality of each of the portraits, where none of the images is repeated, and every face has individual features and loving radiant spark.

The retrospection of the creative work of the dynasty of the Hodunov artists is wonder due to the broad genre specter of the works on display, the well-thought placement of the works in the halls, in terms of topics and chronology. This exposition offers an opportunity for all visitors to feast their eyes on wonderful samples of professionalism, which deserves to replenish the halls and funds of Ukrainian museums.

By Olena SHAPIRO, art expert. Photos from Iryna HODUNOVA’s website