Tag: carpatho-rusyn abstract art

Zoryana “Bazka” Bazylevych – evoking the childhood fairy-tales

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2013 was the second year that Zoryana Bazylevych exhibited with The Warhol Effect: Lemko Jerusalem in southern Poland. Zoryana studied decorative arts and textile design  in Lviv, she has a law degree, and also works as a book cover designer and an illustrator. One of her significant exhibitions was held in April 2013 in Lviv, in the largest exhibition hall in Ukraine, The Palace of Arts. She showed thirty of her still-lifes and landscapes described by the critics as “a diary of emotions secured in by colors in a manner of folk fairy tales, often using a childlike perspective, yet not so much infantile as unhampered by stereotypes.”

Nevertheless, which dimension of childhood fairy tales are we getting here? I dare say it is not the ephemeral quality of barely-there fairies and invisible beings that make you consider magic. It is rather the solid quality of the land and the people’s connection to it that colored their everyday striving and their imagination which helped transferring to the next generation the tradition, wisdom and beauty,  but also doubts and fears. Zoryana captures this complex verbal tradition and makes it visual. Her paintings are rich, firm and substantial, they do not disappear into a haze at the first sign of approaching human footsteps. They will stand their ground to reveal the story of the inspiration that is behind them.

Justyna Maksymczak – a young talent from southwestern Poland

One evening I checked out the Rusyn Art Facebook page and I noticed a post by Vanio Fesz with three words – our Lemko girl. The link took me to very modern, abstract paintings and sculptures by Justyna Maksymczak from Przemkow, Poland. She majored in the most wonderful art fields: conservation and restoration of masterpieces, renovation of artistic craft and architectural detail, and now topping it with MA in art history, spending her last semester in Germany. She has exhibited with The Warhol Effect: Lemko Jerusalem and it is through her that I got to know other Carpatho-Rusyn artists involved in it. 

Some of the oil paintings that I had the advantage to go through reminded me of abstract expressionism, yet not necessarily of its color blast. Justyna chooses her palette well. It can be somewhat subdued and gentle, with purposeful accents of primary colors applied to draw the eye in, to focus. Or, she can juxtapose more vivid tones in a fantastic medley the effect of which will be nothing short of an exhilarated movement. And either way she goes, she retains her signature that makes the works recognizably hers.

Alexandra Hrinova Pavlovska – turning inward to find liberation

Alexandra Hrinova Pavlovska is an artist and art teacher from Stara Lubovna (northeastern Slovakia) who exhibited with Lemko Jerusalem for the past three years. She studied art and promotional graphic design, and has been publicly showing her work since 1998. Her collaborative project in 2013 was illustrating a children’s book Where The Fairytale Might Live by Peter Karpinsky. I had the pleasure of communicating with her and she kindly provided me with the samples of her work as well as an insight of what she is trying to achieve.

The core of her work belongs to oils, and she divides them into three areas developed continuously. The first one deals with a series of paintings called “Spaces,” characterized by freedom and airiness that enable her to explore the introspective world of thoughts and recollections of dreams. The second area is devoted to reflecting upon her Carpatho-Rusyn roots – the power of blood relations, connections to the soil, and interestingly, folk ornaments acting as artistic outlets of the common people. The third area covers her experiments with depicting the reality that is seen and recorded.

I am sharing two paintings from her Rusyn connection works, and one from the first area of work.

Mateusz Budzynski – exploring space and color

Lemko Jerusalem, or Łemkowskie Jeruzalem, is an art initiative in southeastern Poland (Krakow, Gorlice) that has been capturing for the past thirteen years the trends in the contemporary Lemko art community. Its artists draw from their rich culture and look to the outstanding Lemko/Rusyn artists like Nikifor or Warhol, thus exploring their own cultural identity and opening up the secrets of the Lemko culture to the viewers of their artwork.

My Silence by Mateusz Budzynski Source: Courtesy of Mateusz Budzynski
My Silence by Mateusz Budzynski
Source: Courtesy of Mateusz Budzynski

One of the 16 artists who are involved with the project this year is Mateusz Budzynski, who earned a degree in painting in 2000 at the Faculty of Painting and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw. He teaches painting and drawing, and has been exhibiting individually and collectively since 1999. His earlier works show influences as different as iconography, abstract expressionism or pop art. In his recent works he focuses, as he says, on the effects a particular arrangement of objects and figures has in a suggested space, through abstraction, raw forms and colors used sparingly, even on the detriment of a more finished execution. But what are these effects? Emptiness, Silence, Despair are what he tells us directly by their titles. Yet in Illumination we feel irony, with Return there is exposure, and Indenpedent leaves us skeptical about the genuineness of the concept. Budzynski’s artistic dream is to paint one dot on a canvas, but he laughs: “Where the hell would I place that dot?”(1)

Jerzy Nowosielski – “painting is a sacred act”

When researching Jerzy Nowosielski, I suddenly wasn’t certain which type of works of this world-renowned Lemko painter and historian I should show you in this post. The highly abstract nudes or the biblical scenes?

His devout faith lead him to creating icons and religious paintings for churches in Poland, his strong ties to the Lemko region informed his creativity through and through. His secular art is intense and bold in color, subject matter and composition – and I came across some pretty heavy-worded and quite contradictory interpretations of his works. It always makes me wonder how much of such analyses the artist really intended. His religious pieces are without any pretension or conspicuous elaborateness. The figures tend to stand against plain backgrounds and all the focus is on them – on their interaction, or distance, their facial expressions, if any, and the effect of the dominant colors.

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