It happens here and there that an artist themselves contacts me and that makes my researching work less of a research. I am lucky if I can get to know the artist through the things they say to me, through the way they respond – or don’t. It was back in April that I became aware of Volodymyr Pavlyshyn from Uzhgorod, Ukraine. When I asked him whether he had any Rusyn roots, he was very clear about it:
“I was born here. My whole work is infused by the history of my people. Look at my paintings.”
So I did. And I thought how powerfully he expressed it, both in words and in colors. I was captivated by that recurring shape of a woman who seemed one and the same to me, emerging from the blots of colors applied in such a controlled and determined manner that looking at them for longer than a glimpse revealed this whole living world. And whether it was an angel, Virgin Mary, or a woman, Pavlyshyn revived in modern terms the features of the 16th century Carpathian Madonna, who, with her sad expression, tilted head and a tiny Jesus in her arms, became emblematic of the Rusyn iconography. Executed with a knowing tenderness and using contemporary techniques, Pavlyshyn achieves a deep fusion of the past and present, gently playing off of their contrasts.