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The best of 2015: Exhibitions of Ukrainian modern art in Kyiv

One of the trends of 2015 was the revision of Ukrainian XXth century art. Among the important projects were: “Harlequin Is Leaving…In Memoriam. Legendary Collection of Ihor Dychenko” and “Kateryna Bilokur. I want to be an artist!” at Mystetskyi Arsenal; “SPETSFOND (works from the special storage, 1937-1939)” and “Art of the Ukrainian Sixties. Possibility of the museum” at National Art Museum of Ukraine; “Three dimensions of Vasyl Krychevsky” experimental exhibition at Ivan Honchar museum; reconstructions of Kazimir Malevich lectures at Ukrainian Academy of Arts.

“Harlequin Is Leaving…In Memoriam. Legendary Collection of Ihor Dychenko” at Mystetskyi Arsenal

The unique private collection of Ihor Dychenko, Ukrainian art critic and artist, who started collecting avant-garde art, art of Sixtiers, contemporary art since 1960s, when we was a student, spending his scholarship money and publication fees on purchasing avant-garde art, that was cheap during that time and nobody was interested in buying it. Many avant-garde artists were repressed or were forced to leave the country, the whole art movement was neglected, their works were forgotten, big number of it, like for example the Boychukist’s art, was destroyed by soviet officials, thanks to Dychenko’s work many paintings of Ukrainian artists of the XX century have been saved. As he explained for the collection he was searching for works of “repressed “Ukrainian nationalists” forgotten and formalists”. Even Iron curtain failed to prevent his collection to become famous on the West since 1970s, probably because of such fame KGB didn’t pursued him.

Kazimir Malevich Suprematist Composition, 1916
Kazimir Malevich Suprematist Composition, 1916
Victor Palmov Ukrainian village in winter 1919-1920
Victor Palmov Ukrainian village in winter 1919-1920
Alexander Khvostenko-Khvostov The sketch of Fata Morgana's costume for the opera The Love for Three Oranges
Alexander Khvostenko-Khvostov The sketch of Fata Morgana’s costume for the opera The Love for Three Oranges
Anatol Petrytsky Sketch for the ballet Le Corsaire, 1926
Anatol Petrytsky Sketch for the ballet Le Corsaire, 1926
Antonina Ivanova Kateryna, 1920s
Antonina Ivanova Kateryna, 1920s
Solomon Nikritin Trip Around the World, 1930
Solomon Nikritin Trip Around the World, 1930
Viktor Zaretsky portrait of Ihor Dychenko, 1964
Viktor Zaretsky portrait of Ihor Dychenko, 1964

“Kateryna Bilokur. I want to be an artist!” at Mystetskyi Arsenal
The Mystetskyi Arsenal hosted a large-scale retrospective of the works by Kateryna Bilokur and exhibition of Ukrainian women artists working in the genre of video art. To understand much deeper existential dimension of Bilokur’s floral motifs, you need to check her biography. The name of an exhibition is her personal quote; she was born in 1900, and lived all her life in a conservative patriarchal environment of the Soviet Ukrainian village where nobody understood her passion in art, she didn’t even receive a primary education (since her parents decided that a girl doesn’t need one, later she tried to enter an art school, but was rejected because she didn’t have any diploma of a primal education) and experienced all the horrible events of Ukrainian history, like: revolution, Holodomor, World War II, and, despite everything, was able to turn her daring dream of becoming an artist to reality.

Kateryna Vasylivna Bilokur

Kateryna Bilokur flowers

 

Kateryna BilokurKateryna Bilokur veggiesKateryna Bilokur 2Kateryna Bilokur flowers 3Kateryna Bilokur mystetsky arsenal
“SPETSFOND (works from the special storage, 1937-1939)” at National Art Museum of Ukraine
In 1932, Stalin banned all creative associations and declared socialist realism the only possible artistic direction (therefore during 1932 there was a lot of works with happy farmers, despite the Famine). During 1937-1939 many artists were shot or put in concentration camps, their works were banned, confiscated and put in a “spetsfond”, a secret museum storage, and were supposed to be destroyed, but museum staff has managed to save it. Among the reasons of confiscation in the inventory book of 1939 were: “arrest”, “formalist”, “nationalist”, “enemy of the people”.
First, the special fund was saved due the war – along with its other art works it was evacuated to Ufa, and some works were taken by Germans. Later from Germany works returned through Leningrad, and now museum workers suggest that some paintings remained there. In the early 50s all works of the special storage of the Soviet Union were supposed to be brought to Zagorsk and to be destroyed, but Kyiv’s special fund was lucky, and it was assigned with a category of “zero” value and official didn’t double check what was in it.
Then in 1962 party officials wanted to see again the Boychukist’sart that were stored in a secret fund, a Chief Keeper of NAMU during that time was an art critic Dmytro Gorbachov ( I wrote about him here), he didn’t know about the special fund, because all artworks were removed from the underframe and rolled up, so when he first saw the amazing art of Oleksandra Ekster, Viktor Palmov and others, he was shocked. Gorbachov decided to give artworks for restoration and began to show these paintings secretly – first to Ukrainian intellectuals, and later to foreign visitors. But someone filed a complaint to the KGB and Dmytro Gorbachov was fired from the museum. Now the exhibition displayed only a part of already restored paintings.

SPETSFOND (works from the special storage, 1937-1939


SPETSFOND 1937-1939

special storage, 1937-1939

Volodymyr Kotliar Proletariat will let this happen, 1930s
Volodymyr Kotliar Proletariat will let this happen, 1930s

“Art of the Ukrainian Sixties. Possibility of the museum” at National Art Museum of Ukraine
The exhibition of artists’ works of the 1960s, I wrote about it here

Viktor Zaretskyi, Alla Horska (with Anatolii Lymarev and Borys Plaksii) A sketch for the mosaic panel "Flag of Freedom" for the Young Guard Museum in Krasnodon, 1968, applique on cardboard
Viktor Zaretskyi, Alla Horska (with Anatolii Lymarev and Borys Plaksii) A sketch for the mosaic panel “Flag of Freedom” for the Young Guard Museum in Krasnodon, 1968, applique on cardboard

“Three dimensions of Vasyl Krychevsky” experimental exhibition at Ivan Honchar museum
I was lucky to be involved in the creating of this exhibition as a volunteer. It was an experiment of Ivan Honchar museum to engage people who were found through an open call, who demonstrated enthusiasm for participating; the idea was to create more open and a more engaging museum space. All volunteers together with museum workers during a few months discussed the ideas for the future project and helped to create different installations. It was really fun, we’ve spent a lot of time in the museum doing something creative, and also I realized how difficult it is to make a proper exhibition. We tried to add to a normal exhibition of graphics some elements of interactivity for the visitors.
“Three dimensions of Vasyl Krychevsky” is three dimensions of Ukrainian culture: folk tradition – avant-garde art – contemporary interpretation. Vasyl Krychevsky is mainly known as a painter and an architect, but the exhibitions focused on his avant-garde ornaments, and also he was a creator of Ukrainian’s coat of arms. During the World War II he left Ukraine and moved to Germany and after to South America, he died at Caracas, Venezuela. His family still lives in Venezuela, Krychevsky’s grandson, who’s also an artist, came to Kyiv for the opening of an exhibition, and kindly cook for all the visitors a big pot of borscht according to a family recipe.

Three dimensions of Vasyl Krychevsky exhibition

Vasyl Krychevsky exhibition preparations

ornaments

borscht

the team

Vasyl Krychevsky exhibition

Vasyl Krychevsky exhibition ornaments

Vasyl Krychevsky exhibition final work

Vasyl Krychevsky exhibition kids play

the opening

a beautifil wall

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