5th anniversary of the Transcarpathian Association of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine


One Decade Out of Ninety Creative Years

The Transcarpathian Association of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine has arrived at its 65th anniversary, and with it a good opportunity has presented itself to glance back at the past, to look more intensely at the present and to try to peer into the future, which as is known, stems from the past and rests in the continual flux of the moment. Another anniversary is the 90 years of professional art activity if we begin from the first professional exhibition, organized in 1921 in Mukachevo by Erdeli and Bokshay. Finally there is the 10 year anniversary which marks the time which has elapsed from the appearance of the Union’s previous album, which opened the 21st century, and today`s publication, which aims to reflect the tendencies at the beginning of the new century.

With every anniversary its numerical attribute is merely a relative characteristic, but a certain scheme, a chronological net, cast on the free course of time, helps to orientate oneself and for the partial eye – to reveal, to outline the events of artistic life, which, for certain invariable qualities, responds sensitively to the changes and sometimes even foresees them. One could do worse than applying a relative scale of 10 yearly markers, a simple arithmetical framework unexpectedly reveals different stages of fascination with beauty, varying tensions of search – from reflections of the world, self-expression through the form, colour, to the creation of myths and new worlds, the unity and competition of new and old, defiant and conformist. Revealed in these creative elements are sudden regularities, sudden lights and illuminations, unexpected reflexes and reflections, undeniably interesting distinctions, generalizations of plans and the play of details.
Modern Transcarpathian art has lasted for almost a hundred years and within such a broad interpretation of the notion "modern" it can indeed be compared, in spite of a certain lag in time, with the world`s art process, defined by the limits of the 20th century. Comparable are the circumstances and the aspirations that have led to the rise of the original art phenomenon, the efforts of a few persons that have changed the local ethnographical-geographical space, having turned it into part of the Pan-European cultural environment, filled with the sense of modernity. Comparable too are the results of the artistic explosion, which gave birth to an inspired perusal of the fate of one`s people, its mode of life, traditions and which continues today to bring forth new art senses.
Throughout the centuries this mountain land remained at the periphery of the development of civilisation yet it emerged into the 20th century having preserved a wondrous purity of folk art and an inviolate harmony between people`s lives and nature. For centuries the creative energy of the highlanders has been growing, ripening, flowing out into the amazing harmonious simplicity of the village dwellings, to the poetry of wooden churches woven from timber shingles, the charms of folk lyrics and song, the true beauty of everyday objects, the magnificence of embroidery and ornamental garments.
The beginning of the 20th century was marked as the time when folk art was discovered, a revelation of the spirit of the people and the land. The prerequisites were favourable for the origin of this new art and the personalities appeared that could realise it. The pictorial art of Transcarpathia has its own interesting and wondrous history, its own periods, starting and crossing points, it has not given rise to the newest tendencies and trends but it has reached the pinnacle – it has formed its own unique artistic face.

A single decade, at once voluminous and a pittance. It is its own particular model, a condensed period of time which encompasses more than ten years. It includes the creative impulse of the founders of the Transcarpathian school of art, marked with anniversary exhibitions and luxurious albums. Active in this decade are those artists of the older generation: Volodymyr Mykyta, whose painting has created a monumental and at the same time deeply intimate Transcarpathian world, Yuriy Herts with his flickering, dancing colours, conveys to the spectator a state of admiration of the native land, Edita Medvetska – who strengthens the refinement of colour ranges with decorative feeling, Anton Shepa – the author of innovatory monumental compositions and elegiac paintings, and Ivan Ilko – who expresses his love for his native land via folk-lore poetic and realistic manners.

This decade, as all the others, is marked with inevitable losses. Ernest Kondratovych, Vasyl Habda, Vyacheslav Prykhodko, Vitaliy Zvenyhorodskiy, Pavlo Bedzir, Ferenc Seman, Mykola Medvetskiy, and Pavlo Balla have left fond memories of themselves bequeathing an invaluable heritage – the inimitable art epopees. We see the wealth of nature through the trustful eyes of Kondratovych – the graceful simplicity and gentle truth of panoramic landscapes, we blossom with the innocent bloom of his apple-trees resembling village girls, we germinate with the splendid carpets of summer herbs, we rest in Habda`s delicately accentuated sceneries and in the interiors of his irreproachably harmonized still lifes. We stroll in Prykhodko`s Uzhhorod, constructed on the endless variations of colour planes, that present all the possible aspects of the town and states of admiration of the town. We live a "life of trees" together with Bedzir, we breath the magnetic philosophic space of his black-and-white graphic pieces and the ascetic freedom of his life, and we enjoy the freedom of play in the inexhaustible colour fantasies of Seman. We are still left with the classical landscapes of Adalbert Marton, the watercolours of Shandor Petki, the pastel suites of Semen Malchytskiy, Vasyl Hanhur’s nocturnes, Oleh Horal’s portraits and surrealist scenes, and this by no means is a full enumeration…

It is the second decade of the 20th century. Transcarpathia is a part of the newly formed Czéchò-Slovak Republic. Erdeli and Bokshay, the graduates of the Budapest Academy of Arts begin their careers as teachers of drawing in the educational institutions of Uzhhorod and Mukachevo. Erdeli mostly paints portraits while Bokshay works in the landscape genre. In 1921 they found the "Club of Artists of Pidkarpatska Rus" and hold the first exhibition of professional artists. Artists follow the path of improvement, they desire to see the great past of European art and to feel and understand new trends and tendencies. Bokshay tours Italy, France, Germany. He is fond of the works of Corregio, Tiepolo and Friz von Ude. His personal exhibitions are held in 1926 in Prague and Uzhhorod. Erdeli works in Munich (1922–1926) and Paris (1929–1931). He writes autobiographic novels DIMON (1922) and IMEN (1924) in which the inner world of the artist is revealed. He exhibits his paintings in Munich’s "Glaspalast" gallery, in Paris, Brussels, Brno, Prague, and Uzhhorod. In 1927 Erdeli and Bokshay open a private Public School of Drawing in Uzhhorod. Two artists have created the artistic environment and the history of modern Transcarpathian art begins.

The most prominent feature of the last decade is the creative maturity of the artists who actively came into art during the 1980s. It is in this period that their persistent creative search gains a new quality, the artistic language acquires a freedom and completeness, and the individual stylistic manners become distinguished. It is in these years that the creative manner of Boris Kuzma, head of the Union of artists is worked out – the integrity of formal, technological, of graphic and painting, of the individual and serial, realized in elegant sheets and canvases, reaches fruition. The play of Vlad Habda with colour and textures leads him to the desired unity of stability and spontaneity, of material and painting action, the synchronism of gesture and sign, where painted planes have acquired a wonderful energy. Gabriel Buletsa made the colour sound in a new way, he finds his artistic truth in fine simplicity, an almost naïvity of precisely orchestrated space, in which one doesn`t feel the years of work and hesitation. Taras Usyk has strengthened himself in abstract compositions arranged in a filigree way, Volodymyr Pavlyshyn is convincing in his free fluent stroke that creates the manner and substance of colour massifs. Belonging to this generation was also Volodymyr Cherepanya, generously gifted with painting power, his short life resembles the enchanting colour flashes of his canvases.
The "Nova Forma" ("New Form") creative association deserves special mention. Liudmyla Korzh-Radko, Olena Kondratiuk, Odarka Dolhosh, Nataliya Sima have tried almost all the graphic and painting variants of poetic refinement, lyrical narration at the edge of sensuality and philosophical profundity. While Nadiya Ponomarenko, having passed her brilliant graphic period, has realized in her oil paintings the ineffable nostalgic sorrow of human existence.

In 1931 the "Association of the Workers of Pictorial Art of Pidkarpatska Rus" with Erdeli at its head is brought into being. The Association, in which Czechs and Slovaks prevailed at the beginning, is replenished with the disciples of Erdeli and Bokshay – Andriy Kotska, Ernest Kontratovych, Adalbert Boretskiy, Zoltan Sholtes, Andriy Dobosh, Vasyl Dvan-Sharpotoki. In 1933 the first exhibitions of young artists are held. Exhibitions of Kotska open in Prague (1936) and Bratislava (1937). 1n 1939 a graduate of Budapest art schools, the landscape painter Emil Hrabovskiy comes to Uzhhorod. Erdeli is a recognised master – his works are bought by state institutions and his name is in Czech and Hungarian encyclopaedias. Numerous plain airs take place. Along the Uzh river valley a Transcarpathian Barbizon is being born. In 1934 after his study in Prague Fedi Manaylo – the third corner stone of the "Rus trinity" returns to Uzhhorod. Bokshay is guided by the old masters creating a "Carpathian" impressionistic style, pierced with the colour and light of the beloved land. In 1930s he creates his wonderful murals in Transcarpathian churches. Erdeli calls himself an expressionist, his restless nature searches unceasingly for new artistic expression, he stands up for the new art. Manaylo is a popular wise man, poet and philosopher, master of synthesis and artistic generalization. A deep natural patriotism is in the nature of all three. A phenomenon that will later be called the Transcarpathian school of art is being born.

The landscape genre is an integral component of Transcarpathian art. The masterly Anton Kashay may have completed the landscape tradition commenced by Bokshay, but he has by no means exhausted it. This eternal genre dominates as a keen colour sense in the works of Ivan Shutyev, in the perfect watercolours of Vasyl Skakandiy, and in the still meditations of Vasyl Sabov. It is supplemented with scenes of village life in the works of Taras Danylych, and the decorative accents of Ivan Didyk. It is filled with the delight of picturing in the interpretations of Vasyl Svaliavchyk and, in Yozhef Ruschak’s calm "windows on nature", Yosyp Babynets, Vasyl Vovchok, Yuriy Moshak, Petro Sholtes and many others. Anton Kovach is a celestial painter, his artistically light colours in landscapes, town scenes, and portraits make for an individual realistic manner. The nature of the Carpathian’s fascinates and awakens the soul, most often it is the landscape that is the bridge to art and many artists stay true to their first love throughout their lives.
In the conditions of creative freedom of the last two decades a number of artists have realized their own paths in the different trends and stylistics of new art. Here we see Zoltan Michka`s non-figurative painting with his associative rich colour structures, the more restrained in colour and tension works of Andriy Ivancho, and the leaning to the more classical interaction of colours and objects in the abstract pieces of Serhiy Biba. The separate islands are the splendid folk-lore-mythological oeuvres of Petro Feldeshi, the oils of Vasyl Skrypka, where the meagre means render a kind of timeless depth, and the symbolic sonorous oils of Laszlo Haydu. The versatile art activities of Pavlo Kovach can be perceived as a separate island or an even as an entire archipelago. His paintings and graphic pieces, installations and performances express powerfully his way of modern thinking with the accent of mild irony and author`s organic humanism.

The Transcarpathian painting school is not only of local significance but a cultural phenomenon as well. It is a spirit of place and time, it is the impulse of the creative search and the forces of love or patriotism. In the provincial region there appeared several persons who could see the hidden dynamic power of their environment and could find the means for its artistic expression. They have absorbed the European trends of the new era and have arrived at the country of their art – archaic and naïve, manful and simple, mystic and romantic. Art in an accelerated way makes up for the omitted – the principles of plain air painting and exhibition activities are developing, the art school, the union of artists and art criticism are being established.
The Transcarpathian art school is witnessed by the main pictorial genres, but its essence are not genres and realistic or other trends. Its essence must be in the completeness of the artistic life, which comprises tradition and innovation, the education and freedom of creative work, contemplation and intellectual effort. This school was formed as a modern one, the signs of the different periods of the present are reflected in it, it lives and develops. The silver intonation of the Carpathian land, which supplies the continuously active source of artistic inspiration, is also felt within. The magic power once found is always renewed and revives the creative potential, beckons to the unknown and preserves itself as an intonation in the most diverse of works.

Many artists work in different genres of graphic art, but mostly these are graphic items that accompany painted pieces or pure painting on paper. Graphic art as a special philosophical and aesthetic construction is peculiar to only a few artists. Most thoroughly it was affirmed by Pavlo Bedzir and Liza Kremnytska and later by Nadiya Ponomarenko. It is less characteristic of the subtle works of Yuliy Stashko, Mykhaylo Mytryk, and Myron Mykuliak. The sphere of classical graphic techniques is adopted by Vasyl Skakandiy. Today the graphic space applies new computer techniques and receives new authors, with yearly graphic exhibitions open to a broad range of participants.
The sculpture environment began from the naturalism of Ivan Harapko and Vasyl Svyda but gradually it has acquired all the features of the full-blooded existence of this art. One can observe in it the slow speed of the first period, the ideological engagement of the Soviet period and the creative work in the conditions of freedom. It also has missed certain periods – the un-realised plastic forms of Mykola Rohal, the un- preserved expressive works of Ivan Masniuk and a broken off life of the talented Vasyl Sopilniak. Vasyl Olashyn and Vasyl Olashyn-junior represent the high calibre Kyiv school. The monumental language of Ivan Brovdi is rather generalized, whereas Mykhaylo Mykhayliuk is more sensual in his works, the silhouette, the gesture, the modelling of the surface of his sculptures work for the elevated poetic image. Bohdan Korzh, Vasyl Roman, Petro Matl in their longing for an ideal form present a variety of joyous finds in stone, wood, and bronze. Besides there are the superb proportions and lines depicted with enthusiasm by Taras Rusnak and the flying pulsating visions of Vasyl Sochka – the exactness of mathematical calculation and purity of realised fantasies.

Applied art is inseparable from the history of folk-art and the history of the Uzhhorod School of Applied Art (now The A.Erdeli College of Arts), from which all of the most outstanding masters of this sphere have graduated. Unfortunately the achievements of the masters of woodwork art have remained in the 20th century. The leaders here are Volodymyr Schur, most of whose very interesting monumental figures adorn the towns and villages of Hungary, and the couple Mariya and Mykhaylo Ivancho. The articles of Vasyl Sidak are mostly of folkloric character. Ceramic art is present in different stylistics that reflect the different stages of its development. They are the classical genre scenes of Mahdalyna Belen-Puhlyk, and the force of artistic transfiguration of the archaic world in the works of Myroslava Rosul and Vyacheslav Vinkovskiy, and the super aesthetic, as if created by the natural growth of the material, ceramic pieces of Nataliya and Yaroslav Boretskiy. The colourful fabrics of Nataliya Herts and the perfect tonality of the woven planes of Marharyta Berets represent the Gobelin genre.

Art education is a necessary and invariable component of pictorial art. The fruit of Ivan Nebesnyk`s efforts of many years the Transcarpathian Art Institute was opened in Uzhhorod in 2003. It was Nebesnyk who completed the first investigation into the history of art education in the region and the first verified work on Erdeli’s creative life and work. Mykhaylo Pryimych deals with the history of sacral art and with the different aspects of the present of art.

The 1940s are a period of radical political change. During the first half of the decade Transcarpathia is under Hungarian rule, and in 1945 the Soviet epoch begins. It is also the time original Transcarpathian art matures. The individual styles of the artists and the characteristic features of the whole group become clearly defined. In 1940–1942 Kotska studies in Rome. Vilmosh Berets and Sandor Petki join the comradeship of artists. In Uzhhorod The "Union of Subcarpathian artists" holds regular exhibitions, highly appreciated by Budapest art critics, Ernest Kallayi in particular. Erdeli gives his views on art in the press. In 1943 in the magazine "Zoria – Hajnal" the art critic Oleksiy Izvoryn publishes the comprehensive essay "Modern Rus Painters".
In the Soviet Union the art of Transcarpathian artists wins great popularity but at the same time it faces ideological restrictions and limitations. The new power favours the opening of the educational institution but lowers its status to a school of arts and crafts. A Soviet period that covers 46 years begins. The youth gain broad access to education with generations of wonderful artists graduating from an ordinary art school with exceptional teachers, but their free artistic souls run against the grey wall of a totalitarian system. The system limits the powerful potential of prominent Transcarpathian artists, severs their communication with the world… and does away with the great Erdeli. The system casts on artists the yoke of earnings and a dependence on the loyalty to the principles of socialist realism. At the same time it strains the eternal problem of the freedom of creative work and leads to the birth of the Uzhhorod nonconformist movement of the 1960s. Pavlo Bedzir, Liza Kremnytska, Ferenc Seman and other painters preserved their free spirits and maintained dialogue with the world`s art trends. Ultimately, the system disintegrated and art prevailed.

The line of history and the line of the present have come full circle. Probably some traits or even some lines should be added to complete the composition but for a sketch, for an essay this will suffice. Perhaps time does proceed in a circle, but with every turning it is different. The circle of Transcarpathian art is not a closed curve. It is rather an energetic field, a live and life-giving field that absorbs and gives back. It came into being and remains as such. Its specific feature is the diversity of artistic manners which are peculiar to a fully fledged art environment. As in other art centres of Ukraine, here artists maintain respect for their heritage and at the same time, strive not to be perturbed by the present, by the rapidly changing world, they seek to catch the pulse of time, and endeavour to find the answers to eternal questions. Maybe, the intensive plain air and exhibition activities of the Union of artists, that unites the best artists of the region, and the work of the publishing houses – issuing quality catalogues with most exhibitions, together with the scholarly research initiated by the Transcarpathian Art Institute, and the talented young people who organize festivals under the banner of the synthesis of art, do give answers to these questions.

An artist is always on the threshold of discoveries. They are open to the world, they observe its changeability, are imbued with its infiniteness, and feel its unbearable beauty. An artist is always both at one with the whole world and always solitary. In solitude they listen to the echoes of spheres and from the smallest particle, from the slightest movement, from the play of light and shadow, lines and colours, face to face with canvas they reveal their discovery and create a new world…

Mykhailo Syrokhman


5th anniversary of the Transcarpathian Association of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine

One Decade Out of Ninety Creative Years

The Transcarpathian Association of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine has arrived at its 65th anniversary, and with it a good opportunity has presented itself to glance back at the past, to look more intensely at the present and to try to peer into the future, which as is known, stems from the past and rests in the continual flux of the moment.


Palette of Anton Kashshay

On tuesday, may 03, in Uzhgorod in the Transcarpathian Art Museum of Y.Bokshay opened an exhibition "Palette of Anton Kashshay".

The exhibition will run until 20 May 2011.