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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Ukrainian Culture

The Best From the West

The Zakarpattya school of artistic tradition has been around for decades. As a way of thinking, seeing the world and putting it down on canvas, as opposed to an actual school, artists who adhere to this philosophy are a colourful phenomenon in Ukrainian art. Celebrating various anniversaries this year, the National Art Museum is presenting an expanded exhibition of works by this talented group. Taking you on a trip to a land of brilliant beauty, the pieces on show have absorbed the multi-cultured influences of the land, and represent the best there is in European artistic tradition.

Sieghard Raschdorf is a German entrepreneur who fell in love with the beauty and grandeur of the Carpathians. Buying whatever pieces he could get his hands on from artists in the area, he has acquired a rather large collection. Excited about the many different scenes from the Ukrainian south-west which hang upon his wall, as well as the walls of other collectors, he assures us the exhibition this month will be nothing short of extraordinary. 
I was on a business trip to Uzhgorod in 1992 and happened upon an exhibition featuring artists of Zakarpattya. Back then, artists were often in a miserable financial position, and monies from the sale of works often went straight to the museum or hall to cover the costs of the exhibition and staff. Savouring the various works as I walked around, I decided to buy all 60 of them, and all at once I had a whole collection of art from a wide variety of artists in the Zakarpattya art school.
I know the money helped a lot. But to be honest, I really liked what I saw. Some, seeing these works for the first time, might think they are a bit too colourful. But you have to look through to the unique nature that is the Carpathians to see that they representative of the area! The tones and the lighting in the mountains can be so bright and distinctive depending on the season! 
Twenty years ago, paintings from artists in this area would have cost $50 300 per piece. Now, some sell for $10,000 or more! It is fascinating to me! I never could have imagined such a drastic increase! Part of it relates to the how European gallerists viewed Soviet artists in the 90s. They would often treat Soviet art with suspicion, calling it propaganda. The situation changed with the turn of the century and Soviet art began getting huge mass-media attention in Germany. While I have a very rich collection, I have never looked at it as an investment. Its more of a tangible way for me to enhance and enrich my life. 
Having met many interesting people over the years, the one thing that really stands out about this region is its inhabitants. I know people who have never left this area and yet have lived in six different states, witnessing the change of borders and political regimes throughout this time. This creates a particular life philosophy from which ancient history and spiritual morality are most certainly a part. The roots of this school are not Soviet. It is a separate authentic tradition tightly connected with Austro-Hungary, which means a European foundation. 

Volodymyr Mykyta (born 1931) is a living legend of the Zakarpattya art school. As one of Erdelis favourite students, he is one of Ukraines most awarded artists. While his landscapes of the Zakarpattya region tend to be a bit surrealistic, they have the ability to capture you with their powerful use of colour. It you are ever in Uzhgorod, take the time to visit his house. It is a personal museum where Mykyta lives and breaths the same mountain air as in his masterpieces. 

Andriy Kotska (1911-1987) is a younger but nonetheless outstanding representative of the Zakarpattya school of thought. As a student of Erdeli, he was awarded a scholarship to Rome to study. Dubbed the worshipper of Carpathian women, he has a real knack for picturing the beautiful Verkhovynkas and Hutsulkas. Ensuring local traditions and national characteristics are evident in all he does, his artistic manner is unique and recognisable and is one of the many things that makes his portraits of women so appealing. 

Fedir Manaylo (1910-1978) is an artist who brought huge fame to the Zakarpattya artists. Receiving his education in Prague, and then working in Paris, he remained a true folk artist whose inspiration came from everyday life. Using mythological symbols in his images, he is duly remembered for his artistic talent as a storyteller. At the same time, his landscapes are so accurate and realistic one could learn Carpathian geography simply by studying his work.

Yosyp Bokshay (1891-1975) is another eminent Ukrainian artist who shares a history with Adalbert Erdeli. As the second founder and teacher at the Uzhgorod Art School, Bokshay also studied in Budapest. His first exhibition took place in Prague, where he revealed what a mster he was at monumental paintings and landscapes which combined European and local Zakarpattya traditions. 

Adalbert Erdeli (1891-1955) is the founder of the Uzhgorod Art School, and in essence the Zakarpattya school of art. Born into a family of Ukrainian-German descent, he was educated at the Budapest Art Academy and then went on to live and work in Paris where impressionism and fauvism greatly inspired him. While he had the chance to work in any European country of his choice, Erdeli returned to Zakarpattya to glorify the picturesque Carpathians on canvas. Acknowledged as a follower of Paul Cezanne, his works are elusive in colour but reveal a nonstop search for harmony.

Exposition of Zakarpattya Art School 
National Art Museum (Hrushevskoho 6)
Until 22 December 

Kateryna Kyselyova

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  • When Walls Can Talk
  • Rights We Didnt Know We Had
  • The Path to Europe Begins Here...
  • Documenting Life
  • Head into 2014 Healthy

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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