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Lyudmyla Turkevych makes her confession in painting
The Ukrainian artist Lyudmyla Turkevych’s paintings vary widely in subject matter and in the means of expression — from the quotidian subjects, through landscapes and still lifes to complex figurative compositions and icons. If one wanted to express the very essence of her works, one could speak with confidence about the striving of the artist to reveal in her many works the threesome unity of being — Man, Nature and Time.
Lyudmyla Turkevych has developed her original style which captivates the viewer by its expressiveness, originality and technical virtuosity which have been formed through the years of search, experiments, doubts and discoveries in bringing together the line, the color, the brush stroke and the narrative, the metaphoric and somewhat esoteric message which is not always that easy to decipher. The very technique used by the artist may baffle the viewers. Even more sophisticated viewers may have trouble in guessing what is the media in which this or that painting is executed — oils, water colors, gouache or pastels. In creating some paintings, the artist employs tiny, virtuoso brush strokes, and in others she uses bold strokes, or drops of paint which create an impression of dots of light.
In recent years, the artist has been working very productively. She does not limit herself to creating cycles of works but rather creates in various genres and introduces a wide selection of narratives. Nevertheless, her works are often grouped together at exhibitions, paintings in each group complementing each other; they form a sort of natural suites united by the expressive and distinctive style. There are landscapes which form a sort of series (A Walk, A View of Oster); there are still lifes which also may be regarded as closely related (Orchids; Roses; Liles); there are works with seemingly quotidian themes but which can be described as highly poetical or even mystical (Apple Spas [Savior’s] Feast; A Ukrainian Woman in Red; Dance; A Walk in the Moonlight). Some of Turkevych’s works have a philosophical dimension in the insights into space and time, in their depiction of fluidity and transience (Three Levels of Being; Grain of Truth; Birth of Nine Planets; Higher Justice).
Turkevych’s originality is also revealed in the way she turns to painting icons which was pushed to the margins of creative work for many years under the soviets; it is only in the last decade religious painting has begun to be revived to form a part of not only the sacral life of the church but also of the spiritual culture of the Ukrainian nation. For every painter, religious painting is not only a test of mastery but also of a philosophical exploration of the very essence of the spiritual life, of its sacral and even irreal dimension.
Turkevych is reluctant to show her religious works at exhibitions, but those works that she does show produce a great impression by the depth of her understanding what icon painting is all about. Such works as All-Tsarina, Nativity, Fiery Angel, Veil of the Virgin Mary, Christ as Winegrower reflect both ancient Byzantine traditions and at the same time the rhythms of the twenty-first century, its expressiveness and dynamism. These icons emit wisdom, warmth, and deep perception of time and space. There is something monumental in them, echoes of frescos of the kind that could be seen in ancient Ukrainian churches. These icons are a sort of the artist’s revelation, a confession she makes to herself, declaration of her view of the world, of her faith, an attempt to take a look into the noosphere of the eternal truths. Probably every artist has been trying to make such confessions, beginning from the early Christian times, looking into the fathomless of the eyes of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary, and not finding there simple answers to seemingly simple questions… Eternal questions can be glimpsed in these, untraditional icons of Turkevych, in the narratives presented not in a canonized way. These icons attract attention, invite us to go into contemplation and pondering.
Turkevych’s icons are close in their style to the traditional religious paintings of the nineteenth century, but in their stories they are very personal, with the personal understanding of the narratives they present; these works are interesting in their choice of the subject matter, in their color schemes, in their sometimes unexpected phantasmagoric character which deal with the world views of the Ukrainians, with the code of their mentality and of time.
Now and again, the artist turns to the rather long period of time when she worked at the Kyiv Souvenir Factory and created nice and charming lacquered miniatures; these miniatures carried on the visions of the ancient and ever-living Ukrainian folk culture…
Probably it is true that no art work is ever complete. Usually it is considered that a work of art is completed when the artist stops working at it, but the artist continues to work at it in their mind. In an exhibition hall, every painting begins to live its own life, to present its story and colors in a different way. Lyudmyla Turkevych is one of such artists who once in a while want to go back to the works or subjects that seem to have been left behind for good — but there is no time to go back and Turkevych keeps working on new ideas and develops new themes.
She never remains for long within one subject, she experiments a lot with shapes and colors and techniques — for example, she paints on glass, icons in particular. Her works create an illusion of a living and pulsing rhythm which fills the space of her compositions.
By Mykola CHUBUK
Angel of the Annunciation.
Happiness and Dream.
On a Walk.
Legendary Witches of the Month of May.
Submergence into Being.[Prev][Contents][Next]
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