Manaylo’s work is complex and many faceted. He was a skilled landscape painter and portrait painter in the 1930s and 1940s, a sensitive observer of the Hutzul lives. His later work, politically framed by the rise of socialism, became infused with geometric irregularity and abstraction. We see this in two works I picked here: the one from 1937, the boy with the lamb, characterized by soft, thick rendering of a familiar scenery, and the second from 1974, the age of factories devoid of suppleness.
Andrej Gaj was born in Sukov, southern Slovakia. He specialized in landscape and figure painting, still life and portrait, and he was also very skilled in monumental artwork – stucco lustro, stone mosaics and ceramics. In this work, devoted to women, you can notice the confluence of abstract shapes and the three figures of rather regular outlines, occupying the center of the picture plane in poses that are neither quite relaxed nor quite vigorous, creating a wonderful tension in the vision, freezing that short moment which exists between stillness and action.
His daughter, Anna Gajova is an artist in her own right, actively exhibiting in Slovakia and abroad. After her father passed away in 2016 at 84 years old, she has been working on having his monograph published in fall of 2017.
It takes me a really long time to read in Russian, therefore, let the works of Larisa and Ivan Brovdi speak for themselves. I was captured by simplifying the forms and lines down to regular geometric patterns to recreate the evocative Carpathian land, its fields and forests, with two beautifully clad women walking in the foreground. The distorted, lengthened figures and the clown in the painting below brings in the perspective of a child, who, looking up, sees everything towering over them, shiny and bright.
My search for contemporary Rusyn artists is not an easy one, I’ll tell you. But I’ve found a bunch of them active throughout the 20th century. The images of their work are so endearing to me, I see so many familiar objects and themes… It’s turning out to be a very emotional process.
This first work called By the Cradle is by Ernest Kontratovych, who was born in a tiny village Kalná Roztoka, Slovakia, that is only 17 minutes away from my hometown and it is also where my dad, now a bus-driver, makes a stop to collect people on his way to Nova Sedlica and back to Snina.