Imitative and Applied Arts

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Artists of Kharkov Region
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       Made of Temples and Flowers(Nina Verbuck)
       Can anybody tell the soul?(Leonid Kutsevich)
Kharkov Art and Industry Institute
Kharkov Museum of Art
Formed at the First Congress of Artsists in autumn 1938 in Kyiv, the Kharkiv branch of the Union of Artists of Ukraine has become the most important and creatively active in Ukraine.

Kharkiv of those years was a large administrative, industrial, scientific and cultural centre. It was here where numerous Ukrainian creative intellectuals were concentrated, among them a significant place was occupied by masters of fine arts. Roots of this process are not a casual event as they originate in the historic past of the city when in the middle of the 18th century Academician I. Sablukov founded additional art classes at the town Collegium. They were of great significance for the development of artistic culture in the Slobozhanshchyna. Their existence for almost 25 years, in a certain degree, has stipulated the fact that when at the beginning of the 19th century in Kharkiv V. Karazin founded the first University in Ukraine, painting, drawing and history of art were already taught in it by highly qualified artists-teachers. The University gave birth to museum work as well due to purchase of a unique collection of engravings which was supplemented with the time by granted or testamentary private collections. In this way bases of the Museum of Fine Arts of Kharkiv University were laid (1861). Later the second Kharkiv town Art and Industry Museum was opened (1886).

Artistic environment favoured creative work of many talented artists, among them an important place belongs to D. Bezperchy - T. Shevchenko's mate at the Academy of Arts in Petersburg. It was him who became a teacher of many famous masters working in the second half of the XlXth — beginning of the XXth century. All this has prepared the basis for opening in Kharkiv in 1869 a School of Design by Rayevska-lvanova — an original centre of artistic culture. Exhibitions played an important role in the artistic life of the town in the second half of the 19th century. Starting in 1872 in Kharkiv annual exhibitions of the Association of Peredvyzhnyky were held, as well as several academic exhibitions, and creative achievements of artists-Kharkivites were demonstrated.

At that time D.Bezperchy, I. Rayevska-lvanova, I. Sokolov, S. Vasylkivsky, P. Levchenko, M. Berkos, M.Pestrykov, Ye. Shreyder, M. Uvarov lived and worked there. M. Tkachenko, M. Samokysh were tied up with Kharkiv; K. Trutovsky, I. Pokhytonov, O. Slastyon were closely connected with it. First steps in art of H. Semyradsky are also connected with the town. I.Repin has preserved his love to his native land for all his life. Not far from Kharkiv in a family estate early creative work of Z. Serebryakova was formed.

At the same time in the town (in the garden of the Alchevsky's house) the first monument to T. Shevchenko was opened, on Theatre square - monuments to O. Pushkin and M. Gogol, and so on.

The Association of artists has existed for a long time. Due to the efforts of the Kharkiv Association of fine arts lovers founded in 1895 a School of Arts was opened where the graduates of the Petersburg Academy of Arts were teachers. Alongside with this in the town there were several private studios and the painting and decoration school headed by LTrakal. A number of painters whose creative work became popular in 1920-s and was connected with the town had graduated from it.

After violent events of 1917-1919 Kharkiv has become the first capital of Ukraine which favoured, to a certain extent, its growth as a cultural centre. In art this period was characterized by a special development of propaganda trend and graphics. Painters create posters, leaflets, decorate agitation trains. They strive to find new stylistics corresponding to the epoch through search of expressive forms. So, ornament panels decorating the town for civil and political holidays adorn streets and squares.

In 1921 an Art college is opened with the right of a higher educational establishment and in 1927 an Art Institute is opened where the leading artists teach. Soon talented graduates of the institute come to the ranks of Ukrainian masters of fine arts, the process of its formation is taking up new qualities not only in Kharkiv but all over the country at that time. In the world of artistic life groups of artists with different trends and rather polar programs arise. Struggle between them for priorities of outlooks at the development of contemporary art favours gradual trasformation of these groups into organizational associations of like-minded people. The most meaningful among them become AARU (Association of Artists of Red Ukraine), ARA (Association of Revolutionary Art) and UCAU (Union of Contemporary Artists of Ukraine). These unions virtually were also different, each of them stood for the correctness of its positions splashing out the energy in ideological and creative discussions, in organization of program exhibitions.

Characterizing artistic life of that period we cannot but touch upon aesthetic education of wide masses of population through establishment of art studios. Considerable attention should be paid in this respect to the Children's Studio which has existed at the Palace of Pioneers since 1935. High level of teaching, immediate contact with creative artists has played a significant role in revealing the abilities of young generation of future masters. From this medium later new talents designating the whole epoch beginning in the late 1940s till early 1950s entered the Ukrainian art.

Of great importance to artistic life of Kharkiv was the World contest for the monument to T.H. Shevchenko which resulted in its opening in 1934. The contest was carried out in several stages, well-known masters of Ukraine and the world took part in it. It comprised several exhibitions-tests with wide discussion and became a certain creative school for the many.

Not an insignificant role played museums in the life of the town. Among them the Ukrainian Picture Gallery opened in 1935 in specially built premises is worth mentioning. More than 50000 exhibits entered its collection — outstanding examples of Ukrainian, Russian, Western and Eastern art, paintings, graphic art, sculpture and arts and crafts. Here periodical exhibitions of oustanding masters of Ukraine and Russia were held as well as an exhibition of artists of Georgia, reports of Kharkiv artists, members of different associations.

A bright event in the artistic life of the town became organization in 1938 of Kharkiv section of the Union of Artists of Ukraine which had united in itself a considerable number of specialists in different branches of fine arts.

The last pre-war years were the times of final formation of a strong creative collective body in Kharkiv, whose achievements would have been more weighty if it had not been for a sudden attack of the fascist Germany on the country. The war destroyed peaceful life, put new tasks before the workers of art. From the first days of the war many artists started their work editing «Windows of TASU», publishing posters, leaflets, which called upon to fight the enemy. Some artists joined the regular army, the rest of them worked in the rear. Because of the occupation of Kharkiv many artists had to evacuate to towns of Russia and Central Asia. The Institute of Art went to Samarkand where in 1942 the first, during the years of war, graduation of students from joint institutes of Moscow, Leningrad, Kyiv and Kharkiv took place.

The consequences of the occupation were terrible. A considerable part of the museum's collection which had not been evacuated was destroyed in fire and stolen, the town centre was ruined, blocks of houses , administrative buildings, factories and plants were in ruins, too. Gallows, execution of people in Lisopark and Drobytsky Yar, round-ups, searches, taking people to slave labour to Germany, jeers, hunger and darkness - all this the enemy brought to Kharkiv. This is how the liberators saw it in February and then in August 1943.

The guns were still rumbling but the town was slowly returning to life. At the end of the year lessons began at the Art Institute. The Union of Artists renewed its activity. Its artists as members of creative groups go to liberated districts of Ukraine, take chronologic notes of demolitions. In Autumn 1944 the first exhibition «Artists of Ukraine to native Kharkiv» was opened in the town. The content of the works is patriotic deed of the people. Gradually life of a creative collective of the Union of Artists which has also suffered losses in the war comes back to normal. Reminiscence about the dead is encarved in the memory and works of those who survived during the years of hardship. Already in the first after-war exhibitions in 1945 and 1946 in Kyiv Kharkivites occupy noticeable places, and some of them enjoy success at the All-Union exhibition in 1947 in Moscow.

Study process is resumed at the Art Institute and College. There are many people from the fronts here. Creative force which is to take responsible tasks in Ukrainian art of the second half of the XXth century is maturing. Experienced teachers, among them famous artists from Kyiv and Moscow, render their assistance in its development.

At that time at the exhibitions alongside with the leading masters of fine arts one can see works of young people who have come through the war. Behind them there are military actions, hospitals, losses of friends, hard labour in the enemy's rears and reconstruction of after war peaceful life. The same are the themes of their works, probably sometimes too direct and declarative. Young artists lack historical and philosophical understanding of the events or, maybe, image expression. The works are not always perfect in form but you cannot but admire sincerity and humanism, great love of creators to their characters and plots.

In those years Kharkivites wanted to see topical pictures with complex multiplan composition, graphic Art series, complex sculptural solutions. It is especially noticeable in the works dedicated to the Decade of Ukrainian literature and art in Moscow in 1951, at large exhibitions in 1954 and 1957. Among these works, pompous to a certain degree, appear sprouts of new approach to the problems of art that makes creative work of many artists a phenomenon which stands out against the background of similar in topic and subject works. Soon they will have to become stronger, achieve much success in painting, sculpture, graphics and stage design.

At that time, in early 1960s, in the Kharkiv Union of Artists sections of monumental art and arts and crafts have been formed on the basis of creative work of artists from Budy faience factory. With the time the sections enlarged the numbers of their employees by inviting people of other specializations, graduates of new faculties of Kharkiv Art Institute who connected their creative work with decorative design of interiors, commercial goods, souvenirs, etc.

As the Union's merit one can regard its constant care about craftsmen, rendering assistance to them through the Commision on folk arts. The Commission took part in completion and opening of the Department of Folk Arts at the Kharkiv Art Museum, as well as organization of exhibitions of folk art masters from different regions of Ukraine, inviting foreign specialists to conferences. All this has influenced the development of artistic culture of the Slobozhanshchyna.

Existence of such cosiderable creative potential as that of a collective body of Kharkiv artists cannot be separated from the process of self-renovation through the system of artistic education formed in the city and which, despite all extremes at different historic periods has stood test of the time.

Education of artists embraces mainly the whole formation period of creative abilities - from education in children's creative establishments (studios, schools, Art College with its tested system of secondary education) to Art Institute and since 1963 - Art and Industry Institute which has been training specialists in different branches of art for a long time. All this guarantees timely supply of the Union with fresh creative forces, gives it chance to preserve artistic traditions, connection between generations of artists, always to be at a high professional level. Beginning in 1920-1930s creative activity of the following well-known artists, who lived and worked in Kharkiv at different times, was closely connected with Kharkiv: M. Samokysh, M. Burachek, S. Prokhorov, O. Kokel, 0. Symonov, A. Strakhov, O. Marenkov, F. Sedlyar, I. Padalka, Ye. Blokh, V. Meller, A. Petrytsky, V. Averin, M. Kozik, V. Savin, 0. Khvostenko-Khvostov, V. Kasian,V.Yermilov, V. Kosarev, M. Deregus, V. Riftin, H. Tsapok, M. Fradkin, B. Blank, P. Horily, Ye. Svitlychny, S. Besedin, M. Shavykin, H. Bondarenko, Y. Daits, V. Myronenko, 0. Liubymsky, M. Rybalchenko, O. Dovgal, M. Kaplan, I. Melgunova, N. Sobol, D. Ovcharenko, and others. They became the founders of the Kharkiv Union of Artists, laid the foundation for the collective body which later enriched creative work of the artists of war and after-war years: L. Chernov, H. Tomenko, M. Shaposhnykov, M. Ryabinin, L. Tverdyanska, B. Vaks, Y. Karas, M. Slipchenko, L. Shmatko, S. Lunyov, M. Hnoyovy, S. Seleznyov, and those who became well-known in 1960-1980s: A. Safargalin, A. Konstantynopolsky, A. Nasedkin, Ye. Trehub, L. Bratchenko, D.Sova, V. Nenado, B. Korolkov, et. al.

This list should be supplemented by the name of O.A. Khmelnytsky, Correspondent-Member of the Academy of Arts of Ukraine, the People's Artist of Ukraine, Honoured Worker of Art of Ukraine, a well-known artist and teacher of our time who, educated many generations of Ukrainian artists, had headed the section of painting of the Kharkiv branch of the Union of Artists of Ukraine for more than 20 years and occupied that position up to his death.

Touching upon the problems of the Union's formation we should mention the influence exerted on its development by the artists connected with Kharkiv in one way or other at different times. These are M. Sharonov, F. Krychevsky, S. Hryhoryev, H. Melikhov, M. Lysenko, et. al; Russian artists O. Avilov, P. Kotov, the author of the monument to Great Kobzar in Kharkiv M. Manizer.

Creative work of Kharkiv artists is an inexhaustible source of material for study and investigation of the whole epoch in art, because behind each of them is great inheritance. Kharkiv's art critics, members of critics section had developed that problem in their time. For example, M. Bezhutry, apart from an essay about the creative work of P. Levchenko, a novel «Sunny artist», album «S. Vasylkivsky» and a monograph «Samokysh», worked much and fruitfully at a reference book «Artists of Kharkiv» and was the co-author of «The history of Ukrainian art»; M. Chernova is the author of monographic albums: «D. Bezperchy», «M. Ryabinin», «A. Nasedkin»; O. Fadeyeva - «H.Tomenko»; H. Fisan - «D. Ovcharenko»; A. Novosyolova-Khmelnytska - «Fedir Hnidy» (about the creative work of an outstanding master of folk arts of the Slobozhanshchyna), and others. In 1978 «Finearts of Kharkiv» album (Introductory article by V. Sizikov) was published. Since that time numerous catalogues dedicated to individual artists and exhibitions of their works as well as leaflets, booklets, articles on problems of artistic critics, etc, have been published.

This great creative and public work which was and is carried outby Kharkiv Union would be impossible without an organizing role of the administrative board of the Kharkiv branch of the Union of Artists of Ukraine headed at different times by S. Besedin (1938-1947), D. Shavykin, M. Rybalchenko,Ye. Solovyov, H. Tomenko (1947-1953), V. Sizikov (1953-1987), V. Sydorenko (1987-1997), its present Head - V. Kovtun, elected in 1997.

It should be mentioned that only recently the elements of renovation have been strengthened due to conning of new creative individuals who have brought fresh approach to the character of image making. Exhibitions become more diverse, numerous, especially there are many personal exhibitions. An important factor here is enlargement of exposition areas, opening of new exhibition premises. Many authors exhibit their works abroad, to say nothing about regional and All-Ukrainian expositions of works of painting, graphic Art, sculpture, theatrical art and arts and crafts. Ties between artists of Kharkiv and masters of other towns and countries are being established.

Great influence on creative life of the Union had organization in Kharkiv of the International exhibition dedicated to the 150-th birthday of I.Yu. Repin in 1994, formation of the international «Repin's fund», a joining chain in relations between Ukrainian, Russian and Byelorussian artists. Within the framework of these relations conferences, exhibitions and their discussion are held. Kharkiv artists took part in exhibitions of Ukrainian art in Yell University (USA), Berlin (Germany), Lille (France), international exhibitions of graphic Art «Block No.4» which were held in Kharkiv and Kyiv, exhibitions in Kyiv «Triennale of Drawing-97»and «Triennaleof Painting-98», exhibition of Kharkiv sculpture and works of ornamental art in Kyiv, etc. Numerous works by Kharkivites are presented in the Treasury of National Art attracting attention by their originality, stylistic expression and perfect make.

Recently important works of monumental-ornamental character have appeared decorating out city. These are mosaics and wall-paintings, frescos, stained glass windows, ceramic panels, relieves, monuments. They decorate different buildings — industrial and public, cathedrals, stadiums, underground stations, squares and parks.

All this testifies the full value life of the Union of Artists of Kharkiv. Certainly, as any process of group formation, it has its own «peaks» and «falls». And these years have witnessed many historic cataclysms which influenced artistic activity.It is impossible to characterize these periods in a single meaning, however, absolute proof of success of Kharkiv artists has become awarding many of them honoured and scientific titles, orders, medals, premiums.

Among those who fruitfully worked at different times or are working now in Kharkiv there are People's artists of the USSR, People's artists of Ukraine, Honoured Art Workers of Ukraine, Honoured artists of Ukraine and other republics, members of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, members of the Academy of Arts of Ukraine, the Petrov Academy of Sciences and Arts (Russia), the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Academy of Architecture and Academy of Construction of Ukraine, Full Members of the International Academy of Informatization at the UNO, State prize-winners, of international awards and municipal awards of Kharkiv.

Creative activity of the Kharkiv branch of the Union of Artists of Ukraine with uniqueness and scope so characteristic of it formed by the whole previous history of the artistic life of the region has become an integral part of cultural life for the 60 years not only of the Kharkiv region but Ukraine as a whole.

Alla Novosyolova-Khmelnytska


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