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Picturing a World

Oleksandra Ekster

An article, Ukrainian Painters: The Modern, led me to Oleksandra Ekster, whose participation in the Modernist movement at the beginning of the 20th C is clear in her works. She either reflected or helped shape a number of avant-garde styles. A summary of her career, found at the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv, points out that she "educated a whole generation of the theatrical design innovators …who contributed to the development of Ukrainian theatre in the 1920s." And it is the theatricality of this Carnival in Venice that strikes me, both in the flatness of background buildings and the Commedia dell'arte costumes.

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Yevgeniya Yeretskaya

Although bulb spears and even daffodil buds are showing in south-facing patches, we've still got snow on the ground here in the Berkshires. A little shivering among the flowers? With a bend in meaning from the original, this example of the paper engineering art of Ukrainian illustrator Yevgeniya Yeretskaya seems a perfect way to say goodbye, Winter—hello, S-S-Spring!

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Maria Prymachenko

Almost a year ago, on February 28, 2022, Russian forces destroyed the local history museum in the city of Ivankiv northwest of Kyiv. It was a house museum and held many works by Ukrainian folk artist, Maria Prymachenko. Neighbors and staff managed to save at least fourteen of her paintings. By September 2022, an Exhibition of Rescued Paintings by Maria Prymachenko was held in Kyiv. You can read more about her in Flowers for Peace: The Spirited Art of Ukrainian Artist Maria Prymachenko That is Now Becoming a Symbol of Hope. For the darker undertow in her work, see Cannibalism and genocide: the horrific visions of Ukraine's best loved artist. If only flowers, birds, and the sun were army enough!

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Diary of an Invasion

Book alert: I've been rereading Andrey Kurkov's Grey Bees and liking it even more the second time around. Today my copy of his Diary of an Invasion arrived and already I have learned that by January 3, 2022, workers from the eastern part of Ukraine who might once have gone to Russia had begun going to Western Europe instead, a fact that he thought might be worrying Putin. So much we don't understand about that war, no matter how many daily headlines are given to it! And how splendid, if heartbreaking, to learn about it from such a gifted observer and novelist!

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Hutsuls in art

Blog post alert: Paintings of the Hutsuls in the Carpathians has artwork by several 19th and early-20th C artists depicting the life of the Hutsul people in what is now Ukraine. It reports that of twenty-five thousand remaining Hutsuls, twenty thousand live in Ukraine—may they be safe. Many of the pictures in the post could suggest stories; and it interests me that at least one of the artists, Teodor Axentowicz, studied with Carolus-Duran. I've chosen this Madonna by Kazimierz Sichulski, however, just because it is gorgeous (well, and because of its 1909 date, so close to my magic year, 1908).

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Ivan Pokhitonov

Here the Berkshires, we had a snowstorm last Saturday; but under the strong sun of late winter, bare ground was already showing through the next day. In the Garden by the Ukrainian artist, Ivan Pokhitonov, is a reminder that spring will come soon and bring the first gardening chores. If only his fellow natives of Kherson could be looking forward to the same! For this and more of Pokhitonov's paintings, click here.
Via Lines and Colors

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Zinaida Serebriakova

Website alert: Zinaida Serebriakova (1884–1967) was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine; studied art in St. Petersburg; and was active in France. Oh, that we all could be international in our outlook! Wikiart has a gallery of 415 of her works, including one I love for its subject and tonalities, In the Studio Braz.France (1906).

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The internet is abuzz with the revelation that Volodymyr Zelensky was the voice of Paddinton Bear in the Ukrainian version of the movies. It's hideous a way to find anything endearing in the current disaster; yet to see him at work is irresistible. As a writer, sometimes I act out something in a story to locate actions and feelings in my own body. How marvellous to see a trained actor imparting a whole interpretation to a role when his work will be only heard—and to know that President Zelensky is now giving heart to an entire country.

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Margit Selska

Blog post alert: I plead being as ignorant of Ukrainian artists as the next person, but a post, Women in Ukrainian Art: Blank Spots in Ukrainian Art History at the Wilson Center's Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, has given me a way to begin learning about them. In this case Marit Selska (1903–1980). She was born in Lyiv; studied in Cracow, Vienna, and Paris; escaped the Holocaust (though most of her family perished); and had a productive career after WWII. I chose this image for its blue and yellow Ukrainian colors and for the thoughtful introspection on the subject's face. Would that the choice of a hat and personal stories were all that Ukrainians—and the world—had to worry about today!

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Bashkirtseff, Ukrainian

Website alert: I have blogged in the past about Marie Bashkirtseff, on whom I based my character La Russe. Today, I wish I'd called her The Ukrainian. She was in her teens when she posed in this costume of her native Poltava. For another photo from the same session and more, wonderful images, see the excellent essay
"I Am My Own Heroine": How Marie Bashkirtseff Rewrote the Route to Fame by Sonia Wilson.
Image via Wikipedia.

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