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Ukrainian Painting of the 20th c.
An innovator-constructivist of Ukrainian stage design, easel painting, and book and poster design, Petrytsky was unconstrained in his selection of formal variations that were adequate to his ideas. Petrytsky found an individual stylistic manner with which to define himself, and provided a new voice in the world culture of the 20th century.
The aesthetic system of modern French art, which he discovered for himself at the beginning of the 20th century while attending a Kyiv lecture, contributed a breadth to the colored vision of the artist’s self-searching and strengthened the measure of artistic generalization. F. Krychevsky, an influential authority if the Kyiv school of painting, acquired one of the impressionistic etudes of Petrytsky, then a novice artist and student of the Kyiv Art Institute. Sensitive to experimentation, A. Petrytsky was always mindful of norms and rules while adding dynamic qualities to his composition or exaggerating proportions. Because of this, his artistic manners relay a sense of urgent formal or emotional effect (“Composition”, 1923 and “Portrait of a Woman. Ol’ha”, 1922).
In his stubborn realization of aesthetic values, as well as life’s values, Petrytsky had his followers of like mind: L. Kurbas, O. Dovzhenko, O. Vyshnia, M. Bazhan, P. Tychyn, Yu. Smolych, Yu. Yanovsky, and H. Yura.
In the atmosphere of avant-garde searching and discovery, this 20th-century artist turns to the idea of the unification of art and life in his artistic interpretation. Innovation as perceived by the artist’s psyche and his personal feelings about the social conception of art on the threshold of creative maturity are artistically meshed in the painting “Invalids” (1924), which became THE painting of Petrytsky’s life and brought him world fame; this painting is exhibited in Venice, Berlin, Bern, Geneva, and Zurich. In an exhibit in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall, the painting is shown side-by-side with works of such world artistic innovators as A. Matiss and A. Deren. Petrytsky was offered a considerable sum for the purchase of his work, but the artist declined, feeling that it belonged to Ukraine and thus returned with it to his homeland where it was immediately confiscated as a “formalistic creation”. Only after many decades was the painting once again allowed to be included in the Museum’s collection. After World War II, the Museum’s collection was enlarged mainly thanks to works coming in from all-national as well as monographic, individual exhibits, and it was in this manner that a collection of paintings from the 1940s and 1950s was acquired by the Museum. Large collections of monographic painting is a hallmark of the Museum’s collection of 20th century painting. Quite extensive, these collections include the works of O. Shovkunenko, K. Trokhymenko, L. Kramarenko, P. Volokydin, H. Svitlytsky, M. Hlushchenko, V. Kostesky, S. Shyshok, S. Hryhoriev, O. Syrotenko, V. Puzyrkiv, H. melikhiv, I. Shilman, T. Yablonska, and others. These collections were enriched by works from the personal and monographic exhibits of the above named artists during the period of 1960-1990. Works by these artists attest to a renewal of style and form of Ukrainian realism: the orientations of the artists are broad and varied and of exceptional professionalism, attainting the heights of their personal styles; they discovered new aspects for treating their subject matter according to the latest neoclassic drive in the evolution of Ukrainian painting. The flow of experience from European painting of the beginning of the 20th century and the individual artistic experience of the artists proved to be the defining element in the selection of renewed neoclassic forms embodied in artistic ideas.
The unique collection of paintings by T. Yablonska, which was formulated beginning in the 1950s, clearly presents the multi-stylistic approaches of her work. The stylistic quality of the unforeseen in her paintings always retained for itself the right of creative freedom, as well as the right to solve the problems of stylistic selection with great sensitivity. The collection of her work unites the canvases with the dynamic liveliness of the impressionistic manner, the artistically verified realistic image, the primitive rendering of form and space of uncovered color; and each and every one of these works exudes a remarkable energy. To the very end of her long, 88-year old life, the artist retained her longing as an experimenter, whose life’s journey was as long as that of P. Picasso, O. Kokoshka, Zh. Brak, and M. Shahal. The thematic direction of the majority of exhibits taking place in the postwar decades were entirely of a conventional nature, and were the basic source of acquisitions by the Museum to its collection of contemporary art. The works portrayed the drama of the recent war; World War II was a unique period in the creativity of Ukrainian artists. Despite the dramatic events of the war, the artists continued to work prolifically. A series of classically painted canvases of the time were acquired in the postwar period, most notable of which is the painting “Black Sea Sailors”, (1947) by V. Puzyrkiv, where concrete personages are depicted in extreme situations in which a person strives to prove himself to his maximum capacity. In his painting “The Return”,(1947), V. Kostetsky shows a remarkable lyricism of emotions; at the basis of this work was a true happening and the painters all encompassing need to express his inner feelings. At the essence of this painting was the reality of life and the inextinguishable need of the painter to express himself. The strength and character of the intellectual essence of the Ukrainian nation was expressed in the realistic portrait of T. Shevchenko -- the genius of Ukrainian spirituality – in H. Melikhov’s painting “Young Taras Shevchenko at the Studio of Karl Briullov”, (1947). The motif of people at work, embodied in the paintings of world classics the likes of artists from H. Kurbe to Van Goch, was expressed in its optimal form in the 1950s by T. Yablonska in her painting “Bread”, (1950), which depicted the essence of human existence: the result of one’s toil as the unalterable basis for life.