Tag: carpatho-rusyn artist from ukraine

A 1983 Visit to Vasil Svida’s 70th Birthday Master Wood Carving Exhibition

Source: Courtesy of Prostir Museum

You will not hear my voice today. Jerry Jumba, a founder of the Carpatho-Rusyn society, an artist, an educator and a collector of Carpatho-Rusyn chants and songs, will tell you about his 1983 trip to Uzhgorod, Ukraine, where he got to meet Vasil Svida, a master wood carver from Patskanovo:

“Vasil Svida – Васил Свида – is a spectacular, disciplined, imaginative, epic Carpatho-Rus’ woodcarver. When you look outward with a mindfulness or attitude that has a clean canvass that receives an image, his stunning wood carvings give insight about life. His most lengthy historic panoramic wood carving of Carpatho-Rus’ history goes across several centuries, and across special support tables. It has perfect continuity and synchronicity of the carving style in depicting the historic life of the Carpatho-Rus’ people. This includes a segment that show Rusin immigrants leaving to work in America and other lands in order to overcome the financial duress and governmental mismanagement in the autocratic Austro-Hungarian Empire. I had permission to take pictures of it.

In 1983 I was on a study scholarship to study Carpatho-Rus’ cultural life for three months in Transcarpathia, in the capital city of Uzhhorod (Užhorod – Ужгород.) The Uzhhorod Zamok (Castle) and the Skansen- Outdoor – Museum set up an exhibit of his works on the occasion of his 70th birthday in a building just before the entrance of the Skansen Museum.

When I arrived he was at the exhibit talking with everyone in such a personal way. He was humble about his work and spoke openly and softly about his motivation. I listened to his casual brilliant summations to several gallery people with heart felt questions. On a level of perception that I had not experienced before, it made me feel like Carpatho-Rus’ – my people – the land my grandparents had to leave under historic financial and political duress – survived by some miracle and had an artist, and artists, who created deeply appreciated culture that lifted the integrity and social awareness of our people, to a world class level.

As I walked through the exhibition, I stopped to gaze, and was galvanized, and then mesmerized by aesthetic beauty of the carved detail. The detail carved in the wood was incredibly sensitive, for a wood surface. The wood carved art was so physically close to the onlooker, and not protected by museum ropes around it. You could touch it! It was emotional, to look at it because I was compelled to stretch my own imagination to imagine how much thought – inner realization – and muscularity went into the shaping of the wood. The respect for his work from the people at the exhibit – was so great, that you would not want to touch it so that its integrity could last forever.

At that time my Rusin vocabulary wasn’t articulate enough to articulate his stunning application of symmetrical and asymmetrical form in balanced carved imagery, and sometimes, the juxtaposition of comparative asymmetrical imagery in the dynamic brown shades of carved wood. Every work was carved within its own visual scale of form relationships, but another brilliant artistic contrast he sometimes provided was the strategic artistic use of large, medium, and small carvings within one piece of carved work. There was the use of light and shadow, with carved relief woven in wood and jutting outward from top to bottom to evoke a clear contrast in the eyes of the onlooker.

In the subjects there were the epic personal characterizations of the people in the dignity of their daily work. There were epic historic carvings that made me ask myself, How did he arrive at that profile and angle of height and length of that carved image? Three dimensional icons in wood. Every work has an affirmative sense of purpose, community, and humanity and is “ponašomu ” -” понашому”- in the ways of our people. I didn’t know how to tell all that in Rusin, if I could speak to Vasil Svida, but I am sure he knew it.

I asked my scholarship grant agent, Margarita Michaljova, “Why doesn’t he show any Eastern Christian religious – Carpatho-Rus’ church life carving? He is soooo great.” She said that religious symbolism was not appropriate for an exhibit in an atheistic society. Communism did not encourage church life art for populist exhibitions. To this day, I don’t know if he was allowed to make or exhibit Eastern Christian church life wood carvings, privately.

I moved to speak with Vasily’ Svida (or Vasyly Svyda). He was kind as I said a few words in Rusin, and then my communist agent stepped nearby and translated my English for me! In a warm, friendly baritone voice, he responded directly in spare, economically spoken sentences packed with content and to the point. He reached to shake my hand. He was seventy years old that day, and I could feel the great muscular strength in his hands from the labor put into his masterful wood carvings. After that, I walked away with tears in my eyes because his work in that museum exhibit room, at such a personal scale, had the inspirational artistic effect of an overwhelming majestic cathedral, internally.”

written by Jerry J. Jumba

Emil Hrabovskyi – realism with a poetic touch

The Beskyds (1945) by Emil Hrabovsky Source: Old Cherdak
The Beskyds (1945) by Emil Hrabovsky Source: Old Cherdak

Emil Hrabovskyi was born in 1892 in Uzhhorod. His artistic legacy of around 500 paintings and drawings became a valuable part of the Transcarpathian and Ukrainian art. His works reflect the influence of the Hungarian realist tradition, the Transcarpathian School of Art (that he helped to found) and his own sensitivity to those fleeting moments of the day when, for example, the sunset is almost over or the mist in the mountains is about to disappear. Hrabovskyi’s landscapes truthfully reflect the nature, but because he chooses subjects that are dear to him and focuses on those ephemeral moments, he is able to bring in a level of lyricism that the views before him offer and that he uncovers. Hrabovskyi was slowly building his reputation and acceptance. His art was flourishing during the Soviet area when the state was creating an atmosphere favorable to the artists, buying his paintings and making them parts of the permanent exhibitions in the museums of Lviv, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk and others. Hrabovskyi passed away in 1955, two years after a solo exhibition showing over 90 artworks documenting his career development.

The Mountain View (1948) by Emil Hrabovskyi Source: Old Cherdak
The Mountain View (1948) by Emil Hrabovskyi Source: Old Cherdak

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.

Mykhaylo Barabash – “the Earth cannot hold its breath”

Exploring the work of a Ternopil native Mykhaylo Barabash, now living  in Lviv, Ukraine, introduces us to an art genre that I have not mentioned yet: installation artIts  can be traced back to the second half of the 20the century and it makes use of a large interior (or exterior) space to gather and position various items in order to present a prepared concept through a complex sensory experience over a period of time. The space itself adds to the meaning and atmosphere that the artist tries to evoke, and very often all the viewer’s senses are under attack. Barabash’s installations are conceptually challenging, confronting you with such complex issues as, for example, the nature of beauty, the human influence on the environment, sincerity, creation, destruction, the ill effects of time. These final stages are preceded by observing even the most mundane things, like holes in the road, or gas pipes, or dilapidated buildings, and a subsequent cogitation.

Barabash studied at the Department of Monumental Painting at the Lviv’s Academy of Arts and has participated in numerous exhibitions and plein-airs in Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia since 1998. One of his important art initiatives came in 2011 when he co-founded NURT, an art association that connects mainly painters and musicians in joint projects. Apart from installation art, he also focuses on painting, land art and video installation, and I encourage you to click on these links to see his artwork presented as he intends it, together with the explanations.

The Allegory of Beauty II (2010) by Mykhaylo Barabash Source: Courtesy of Mykhaylo Barabash
The Allegory of Beauty II (2010) by Mykhaylo Barabash. The soil and the flowers are real. The meaning gets more complex when you see this.
Source: Courtesy of Mykhaylo Barabash
Symptom (2007)  by Mykhaylo Barabash
Symptom (2007) by Mykhaylo Barabash inspired by the Podgoretsky Castle.
Source: Courtesy of Mykhaylo Barabash

Praying in the trees – Ivan Shutyev

Ivan Shutyev is an Honored Artist of Ukraine, who was awarded the Prize of Yosyp Bokshai and Adalbert Erdelyi in 2012 for the best traditional realist work. There are several books with his paintings, one titled Prayer in the Tree where he brilliantly presents the wooden churches scattered through Transcarpathia viewed from many angles and in different light and season conditions. With only few touches of the brush, the landscapes that hold it all together gain a sense of immediacy and reality. The colors are combined in a way that surprises you, the shadows become tangible, and the cold of winter and the green of  summer convey to the eye exactly what you would perceive looking at the scenery yourself without the artist’s interference.

The source of these images is an art enthusiast  Михаил РябецFollow this link to get to the whole album.