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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

Petro Kapshuchenko’s world is the world of each person

The Ostroh Academy receives unique sculptures created by the representative of Ukrainian diaspora in Philadelphia
2 October, 2012 - 00:00
Photo by Kateryna TSARITSYNA

Every year, the collection of the Ostroh Academy underground art gallery is supplemented with new sculptures by world-famous artists. Recently, the Mykhaliuk family gave the university six sculptures created by the representative of Ukrainian diaspora in Philadelphia Petro Kapshuchenko. And last year, works Karmeliuk and The Blessing by the same author were donated by the famous Ukrainian figure Bronislava Skorupska.

Kapshuchenko is not widely known in Ukraine, since the artist left his motherland in 1945. He got the first chance to come back here only in the 1990s. During that visit he presented a lot of Ukrainian museums with his works. While being in the center of artistic life of Philadelphia, Kapshuchenko always used Ukrainian motives and symbols in his creations. So, among 7,000 of his sculptures, the most famous are the projects of monuments to Princess Olha and Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivsky in Bound Brook (New Jersey, USA), numerous miniatures on Cossack life, sculptural portraits of Ivan Mazepa and Taras Shevchenko.

For all the sculptures that the artist created in Argentina and Philadelphia the author used pseudonym Pedro Enko. Only after two years of being abroad, Kapshuchenko attracted the public’s attention in Regensburg with his exhibition, which showed his formed artistic style. This exhibition was followed by hundreds more in the US and Europe, with the author’s creations made out of ceramics, various types of clay, wood, and bronze. American art critics conducted multiple discussions on peculiar artistic worldview, in which the author “does not intend to make revolutions that would end in just one season of fame, and that would be it.” There is no doubt that Kapshuchenko’s world is the world of each person, since he portrayed the life of many nations and countries in his works, and the line of human emotions was always the main motif for him.

In 2004, academician Oleksandr Fedoruk published a research paper on Kapshuchenko’s life. It contains a quote from the local New York paper Park East: “This sculptor is a man of deep thought and humane tactfulness. Maybe, it was not his life that influenced him, because he is full of humor and humanity, but not grief and hatred. There is so much character in figures of fishermen and peasant women, that it seems they are about to say something; a violin player, that bent over a little bit, while playing a tune; a mother with one child in her hands and the other clinging to her skirt.” Ukrainian papers Ameryka (Philadelphia), Ukrainsky Holos (Winnipeg) also published multiple reviews on Kapshuchenko’s works, but back then Ukraine had more important issues than adoring art.

“The tone of relations in Kapshuchenko’s works holds the distance of trust,” writes Fedoruk. “Characters of his miniatures are ready for understanding, their feelings are perfectly suitable for the moment and fit the situation, his precise insight captures the fact of presence of that psychological minute, a moment in time that will turn for a person into a well-kept emotional melody. Characters of his miniatures are often children and teenagers, common types of people, their outer world is shined with a smile, and their eyes are full of love for life. This is especially easy to notice in sculptures With a Book, Lumberman, Their Friendship, Stetsko.”

“Kapshuchenko is an extraordinary persona in Ukrainian art,” noted the director of the Ostroh Academy Museum of History Anastasia Kheleniuk. “And now, many generations of university students have an opportunity to get acquainted with his unique talent. It is important that sooner or later, Ukraine reveals its artists.”

By the way, representative of Ukrainian diaspora in the US and head of Former Rivne Gymnasium Students Fund in Philadelphia Oleksandr Mykhaliuk was the artist’s close friend. He is the author of photo replicas of sculptures that Fedoruk used in his research. Most of the works that were given to the academy’s gallery by the Mykhaliuk family, were given to them by Kapshuchenko on big holidays and special events. The Mykhaliuk couple is sure that in the Ostroh Academy underground art gallery the sculptures will be able to promote the proper esthetic upbringing of hundreds of young Ukrainians.

Today Kapshuchenko’s works can be seen not only at the Ostroh Academy gallery. The Taras Shevchenko Museum, the Kyiv History Museum, the Museum of Hetmanship, and the National Expocenter of Ukraine exhibit numerous sculptures by this artist.

By Yulia YARUCHYK, Ostroh