James Butterwick at TEFAF 2021 Online

James Butterwick is delighted to present, ‘The Colour Labyrinth’, at TEFAF 2021 – Ivan Turetsky’s first online exhibition with the gallery and our first foray into the world of Contemporary Art.

Ivan Turetsky was born in 1956 in Siberian exile in Krasnoyarsk. His parents, both artists, had been imprisoned for anti-Soviet activity which led to the bizarre coincidence that Turetsky was baptised by Patriarch Iosif of Kyiv, himself serving a sentence and Turetsky’s work, and personality, is firmly rooted in Ukrainian intelligentsia and history. One of four children, his family moved back to Ukraine shortly after Ivan’s birth, settling in Lviv, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Lemberg, Lvov, Lviv, the City of Lions is a city of rich artistic heritage very much on the fringe of the Austo-Hungarian and, subsequently, Soviet empires. Architecturally, it is Central European with magnificent Baroque cathedrals and Art Deco mansions. It fits into no particular Ukrainian spectrum, seeing itself as distant, and politically more progressive, than its more Slavic capital, Kyiv.

Fiery Touch , 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas, 145 x 128 cm (57⅛ x 50⅜ in.)

‘I love the luxury of Baroque’, Turetsky wrote of Lviv’s buildings, ‘it is not the wealth of it, nor its beauty that appeals. It is far more a state of mind’. Indeed, the grandiose Baroque is a feature of his work, its colours, contrasts, shades, musical rhythms, theatricalism, dramatic swirls, dynamics, its movement.

Turetsky’s education began in 1972 when he studied at metal design faculty, another facet of his work is jewellery, before entering the Lviv Art School in 1973. At the time, Western art magazines were banned in Soviet Russia so the only source of material for the young artist were magazines from nearby Poland or Romania. Thus, the work of Turetsky tended to follow in the tradition of more home-grown Futurists, Alexander Bogomazov, Alexandra Exter with nodding acquaintance to the theories and works of Vasily Kandinsky, even though such material was in short supply.

Ivan Turetskyy (Ukrainian, b.1956). Thirst for victory, 2020, oil on canvas, 210 x 145 cm (82⅝ x 57⅛ in.)

Ever the non-conformist, Turetsky went against the prescribed art of the day, ensuring that, until Perestroika, his work was banned from exhibition and it was not until 1989 that it was first shown to the public. Ivan Turetsky’s one acquaintance with the norm was his designs for a new coat of arms, even before Ukrainian Independence, for his home city, the first of its kind without Soviet symbols. Ivan further took part in a competition for a new Ukrainian National Crest, in 1992. He won the competition.