We are grateful to Susan Gray, Reader’s Digest, for an important and timely article about Ukrainian art featuring several works by Oleksandr Bohomazov from our collection and comments by James Butterwick.
“Ukraine’s new place in the global spotlight is evidenced by the attention given to practising artists, the re-evaluation of neglected 20th-century artists and the reinvigoration of the country’s museum and galleries.
TEFAF (The European Fine Art Foundation) in Maastricht, hosted Ukrainian art specialist James Butterwick’s show “Oleksandr Bohomazov Ukrainian Renaissance.” Bohomazov’s prominence underlined the trend for under-appreciated Ukrainian Modernists to take a central, not peripheral, place in the narrative of European modern art.
A childhood friend of Alexander Archipenko, one of the best-known Ukrainian Modernism artists, Bohomazov’s work boldly fuses European developments in Symbolism (using images to express emotions) and Cubism (non-figurative style made famous by Picasso), despite the artist never travelling outside the Russian empire.
A self-portrait from 1914–15 redefines portraiture’s palette as radically as Matisse’s Madame Matisse, Green Stripe (1905), with the artist’s spectacle lens rendered turquoise, his moustache and jaw line olive green, crowned by purple spikes of hair. Bohomazov died in 1929 of tuberculosis, leaving his wife Wanda Monastyrska, who outlived him by 50 years, to preserve his work in a trunk. Butterwick says that Bohomazov’s early death protected his work, as he was too revolutionary to survive Stalinist repression. “Bohozamov’s art was organically Ukrainian and unlike anything else in the Western canon.”
Anatoly Petryrsky, celebrated for his set designs, and filmmaker Sergei Yutkevich, are two further 20th-century Ukrainian Modernists, with works predominantly held in Kyiv and Russian institutions, who are ripe for wider exposure to Western audiences.”