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

Heirs of Malevich

The All-Ukrainian exhibition of the abstract painting opens in the Central House of Artist
16 April, 2015 - 14:20
SERHII SAVCHENKO’S THE THEME OF SPACE NO. 5 / Photo replica courtesy of the exhibition organizers

Citizens of Kyiv this month will have an opportunity to visit an exhi­bition that is composed of 200      pieces of the abstract art by 120 artists coming from all regions of Ukraine, including Crimea and the east. The halls of Central House of Artist will display artwork by accomplished authors: Oleksandr Dubovyk, Ivan Marchuk, Petro Lebedynets, Tiberii Silvashi, Oleksandr Zhyvotkov, Serhii Savchenko, as well as by others, including very young ones. The organizers say: “This year marks the 80th anniversary of the death of the great Kazimir Malevich, and the 100th anni­ver­sary of his famous Black Suprematic Square. The ‘Abstract Painting of Ukraine’ project provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the artists who work in different genres, ranging from abstract Ex­pres­sio­nism to Suprematism.”

The exhibition is indeed very impressive in terms of breadth: of the hundreds of paintings a viewer chooses the ones that are closest to them, both aesthetically and ideologically, thus some of the artwork will inevitably go unnoticed, and others will be etched in their memory for a long time. Also, during personal exhibitions, viewers and collectors have the opportunity to grasp all the nuances of author’s creative vision, but huge group displays, such as this one, give them other advantages, namely in making up their own idea on the definitive features of Ukrainian non-figurative art. All the authors displayed are indeed the heirs of the great Malevich, who imposed an experimental look on the abstract artistic language; but only viewers and critics can judge how well the genes of the great predecessor were inherited by contemporary artists.

Of the paintings that attract attention immediately is Casino by Petro Lebedynets, as well as Uniting the Opposites. Red Stone by Petro Antyp. Those who are aware of these authors’ artistic development might naturally perceive those works in the serial context. The same is true for the white Cross by Volodymyr Tsiupko and Burned Mill triptych by Anatolii Furlet. The paintings from “Looking into Infinity” series by Ivan Marchuk stand somewhat apart from the other works, and imbue the feelings of utter hopelessness and tragedy – though, honestly, anxiety has become a familiar part of Ukrainian reality recently.

Volodymyr Lopariev in his Composition utilizes the method of the abstract thinking as a tool to modify and expand the space itself. In his work, the master united multidimensional potential of sculpture with bright expressiveness of the abstract painting, fusing them into a whole. However, the abstraction of changing the images and objects beyond recognition is not a common case. Thus, very specific and ge­neralized images might be seen on the paintings by Oleksandr Dubovyk; figurativeness is present on Stairway to Heaven by Yurii Vakulenko – though the general re­solution defines the artwork as the abstract one. Other paintings are very concise, embodying the Malevich’s idea of ingenious simplicity. Uncompromising and expressive are Breakfast by Mykyta Tsoi and black-and-white Frame by Natalia Korf-Ivaniuk. The connoisseurs of subtle color nuances will find a pleasant surprise in the “Feelings” series by Iryna Hodunova, as well as in Pink Composition by Olena Ryzhykh.

Certainly, such displays are very inte­resting as a measure of the abstract art development in Ukraine, though a surreptitious thought, that many of the artists featured might have shown not the strongest of their works, lingers in the back of the mind. In any case, to fully grasp someone’s artistic idea one needs individual approach: it is not uncommon to wander past a small canvas on a group exhibition only to find la­ter that this was a work by an acknowledged maestro.

The exhibition is open daily (except Tuesday) through April 26, admission is free.

By Olena SHAPIRO, art historian