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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

Palette of spring mood

Mystetska zbirka gallery opened the season with an exhibit SPRING EMOTIONS, showing works of Ukrainian classical painters
13 May, 2014 - 10:43

SPRING EMOTIONS presented selected works of Soviet and Ukrainian authors from private collections. The exposition could be conditionally divided into works of the masters of Transcarpathian and Kyiv schools of 1960s-1980s and works of contemporary artists: Mykhailo Deiak, Anatolii Kryvolap, Viktor Deisun, et al.

An indisputable adornment of the spring collection is Lilac painted by Maria Prymachenko in 1956. Expression and tenderness, pureness of the color, laconism of shapes in the pictures of this genius woman (Pablo Picasso assessed her this way) bring us to a different world. These queer compositions, where plants look like people with their whims and characters, and animals don’t look like common horses, cows or birds; these are strange behemoths with kind and cunning faces. “Everything started like this,” the artist recalled her first works, “One day I was pasturing geese near a house in a village, near a river, on a meadow covered with flowers. I was drawing on the sand all kinds of flowers I have seen. Then I saw some bluish clay. I put it on my skirt and drew the walls of our house.” That is how in an ordinary village family the star of future artist Maria Prymachenko, who inherited the talent of her mother, a talented embroider, rose.

She mastered the mysteries of art herself, but she painted with real devotion and was rightly recognized by professionals: in 1936 Prymachenko was invited to experimental studios in Kyiv Museum of Ukrainian Art. She worked in many kinds and genres of art; she painted, embroidered, got fond of ceramics (today we know only one ceramic sculpture she created – The Crocodile). Yet people mostly know her as an author of pictures who creates a special world: bright, decorative, tightly intertwined with Ukrainian song folklore, fairytales, mystics, and generously spiced with people’s humor.

Along with the pictures, where fairytale animals live to the joy of the audience, the floral compositions of Maria Prymachenko are widely popular as well, and they include Lilac, which is flourishing in fragrant many-colored bunches in a ceramic pot decorated with a picture of a cat. Interestingly, the master’s oeuvre includes unique pictures with a deeper meaning, such as Atomic War, Be It Damned, and even in spite of the richness of colors, they cannot be called decorative. For taking part in an exhibit of folk art in 1936 Maria Prymachenko was awarded with a first degree diploma, and her works were exhibited with great success in Paris, Warsaw, Sofia, Montreal, and Prague.

The wakening of spring in paintings of recognized Transcarpathian colorists Zoltan Sholtes, Anton Kashshai, and Ernst Kondratovych brings us back to the real world: village houses with gable roofs, ramshackle wicker fence, and tender spring seed-bud on the trees which have woken up from the winter sleep. The Kyiv school painters pick up the topic of blossoming with enthusiasm: here is the familiar panorama of the Dnipro with newly built houses in the Left Bank, Botanic Garden with May lilac of all kinds in the foreground. Mykola Maksymenko’s mighty Chestnuts with exuberant white bunches continue the melody of spring; near a path a young apricot tree struck root, and emerald-green grass slopes with bluish mountains seen far behind in Iryna Beklemisheva’s landscape. Nature is always natural, both in paintings, and in life. It does not know aggression, it is living in peace: the young timid seed-buds arise in love, tender buds unfold in trust, and flowers are basking in the sunray and exhale aroma.

“This year’s spring in Ukraine is disturbed because of political events, but it is no less beautiful,” Maksym Voloshyn, director of the gallery Mystetska zbirka, shares his impressions, “It is tender and full of courage.”

By Olena SHAPIRO, art expert. Illustration courtesy of the Mystetska zbirka gallery