This year, the well-known master, People’s Artist of Ukraine, corresponding member of the Department of Fine Arts of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine Mykola Bilyk is nominated for the Shevchenko Prize for his monument to Hetman Ivan Mazepa in Poltava and the sculpture cycle “Earthly Love.”
Bilyk has created many indoor, monumental, landscape sculptures. Art historians note that his works take their inspiration primarily from the history of Ukraine, the female image, and the ecological problems facing humanity. His creative portfolio is quite large, including more than 500 works of art (sculptures and graphic pieces).
The artist is one of the most famous masters of our time, has in-depth knowledge of the problems of the contemporary fine art culture, and exhibits an analytical approach to addressing meaningful themes of history and present. By combining the high traditions of the Ukrainian school of fine arts with the best achievements of European art in his work, the sculptor has achieved inimitable, unique expressiveness. His manner just cannot be confused with any other. In his sculptures, the artist seeks to achieve harmony, to unravel the secrets of folk traditions, to fill the compositions with deep meaning and spirituality.
Let us recall that the monument to Hetman Mazepa was solemnly opened in Soborna Square in the city of Poltava in May 2016. This is the first full-size monument to the hetman, while his busts have been installed in several Ukrainian cities, as well as in the US and Australia.
“When people ask me about my favorite material, they think that it is stone. But I have worked with bronze a lot as well,” Bilyk was quoted as saying by be-inart.com website. “Metal allows one to do very fine things. One can make even open work from metal. Stone cannot afford any subtleties, it is fragile... I have worked with wood as well. Stonework produces virtually no waste. I do a large piece from the main block, and smaller pieces from ‘waste bits.’ I do not throw away anything.
“An artist must start every day as if it was their first, then they will achieve something for themselves and for art. It is like a good violinist. They play well, but they do not create. They just perform well. This is sometimes enough, but art requires discovering something new. Then it will remain in history...”
Bilyk’s work is a colorful modern artistic phenomenon in the contemporary art of sculpture, which influences the viewer through a wide range of visual plastic art techniques. His project “Earthly Love,” which includes 50 sculptural works, is a testimony to the fact that there is a place for high art in our lives. The cycle consists of individual works, but is perceived as a whole, attracting viewers with its compositional skill and stylistic harmony, which are generally aimed at the thorough treatment of the image, the subtle transmission of the psychological condition. Having created his own unique style, the sculptor has achieved refined generalizations that make up his works’ imagery. Bilyk’s sculptural compositions reflect a special world of symbols that inspire a silent dialog. For example, one can see in Kyiv the iconic works by Bilyk without which we can no longer imagine our capital – these are principally the monument to Princess Olha (in Mykhailivska Square), the monument to Yaroslav the Wise near the Golden Gates with Bilyk’s palm prints, the monument to Archangel Michael, the memorial of the officers of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, and the sign commemorating the demolished settlement of Peredmostova Slobidka (in Hidropark).