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Ukrainian Painting from the 19th to the early 20th c.
O. Ekster, one of the 'Amazons' of the national Avant-Garde, was an emissary of Western art in Ukraine. Friendship with such masters as P. Picasso, J. Braque, A. Soficci, and F. Marinetti enabled her to keenly feel artistic innovations of the time, which she 'imported' into Ukraine.
O. Ekster lived in France for a long time and here she painted her excellent canvas Bridge. Sиvres. Its Cubistic forms are expressively defined, their dislocations are dynamic, and colours refined in their combinations. This canvas differs markedly from her subsequent works, in which the constructive basis combined with expression of a bright colour scheme into a single material substance 'gives birth' to an image. Three Female Figures is a self-portrait of Ekster with her friends, artists Y. Prybylska and N. Davydova. The artist deliberately 'erases' individual facial features, leaving only a pure geometrical form – an oval. However, the gestures, attitudes, the dynamism of lines, and the force of colour sounding reveal active and independent characters of women who boldly pave their own way in art and life. With these her colleagues O. Ekster revived folk crafts in the villages of Skoptsi, Kyiv region, and Verkhivka, Poltava region.
Anatole Petrytsky also belongs to the artists of a new formation. His picture Tsar Kitovras vividly demonstrates the character of his searches for his own decorative idiom based on the principles of Gothic stained-glass windows: a black line clearly delineates forms filled with colour.
The diversity of artistic life in Ukraine in the early twentieth century is supported by the works of the artists who were the followers of classical realistic traditions and principles of classical aesthetics and introduced at the same time in their art a broad painting manner and decorativeness of colour: P. Volokydin, K. Trokhymenko, O. Shovkunenko, I. Izhakevych, and S. Prokhorov. With time, they themselves will become classics of art of a new, Soviet era.
The works reproduced in the album are but a small part of the large collection, yet even in such a volume they enable to trace the peculiarities of the development of painting in the nineteenth – early twentieth century, to get acquainted with many prominent artists who lived and worked in Ukraine and whose names went down into the treasury of national culture.
The collection of classical painting in the National Art Museum with all its determinative features may become today a basis for a new, devoid of rigid ideological canons and prohibitions, opinion on the history of our state, its culture, and art, for a new interpretation of many artistic phenomena of the past epoch which testify to a high standard of national painting and its belonging to all-European artistic processes.