Born in 1956, Ivan Turetsky is a unique Ukrainian artist. His history is a path to perfect form, with experiments, extensive visual experience, and encyclopedic knowledge. Turetsky is an artist from Lviv, Ukraine, formerly Lvov, Lemberg, in the heart of Galicia.The work of such people breaks the stereotypes of Ukrainian Art of the Soviet and post-Soviet era – Ivan’s entry into the world of art being atypical. His parents were both artists, who worked as scenographers at the Stanislaviv drama theatre since the late 1950s, sustaining a creative atmosphere for their children: with a private collection of ethnography, pre-war items and antiquities. Ivan began his study with an analysis of Ukrainian Folk Art before moving to his own personal experiments. >> Read more
Born in 1956, Ivan Turetsky is a unique Ukrainian artist. His history is a path to perfect form, with experiments, extensive visual experience, and encyclopedic knowledge. Firstly, Turetsky is an artist from Lviv, Ukraine, formerly Lvov, Lemberg, in the heart of Galicia, on the very edges of the Eastern European Empire, a city of faded, Hapsburg glory but very much a European capital with a Ukrainian heart and soul. A small Prague, the buildings are grandiose, magnificent, the hub of an independent, beating city, very different from the rest of Ukraine.
The work of such people breaks the stereotypes of Ukrainian Art of the Soviet and post-Soviet era – Ivan’s entry into the world of art being atypical. His parents were both artists, who worked as scenographers at the Stanislaviv drama theatre since the late 1950s, sustaining a creative atmosphere for their children: with a private collection of ethnography, pre-war items and antiquities. Ivan began his study with an analysis of Ukrainian Folk Art before moving to his own personal experiments.
Ivan Turetsky’s first creative work was also out of the ordinary, he began with a worldview opposition to the normative aesthetics as outlined by the State. Fascinated by the hippie movement and philosophy of the absurdists, the young student of Lviv Art School in the mid-1970s created an underground culture in the vein of metaphysical art and new substantiveness. In contrast to the unambiguity of Soviet society, his intellectual riddles resembled the works of Alberto Savinio, in which a rational grain could be found only by an insider privy to the mystery. Already at the Art Institute, where Ivan later studied, there was a cult of the Renaissance, and this classic motif of crumpled fabric, which would later be present in all his works, became for him a kind of symbol of the boundary and his antagonism to the material world.
Plasticity has long played a special role in the works by Ivan Turetsky – when dark or illuminated forms resemble figurative silhouettes. Then the shadows of his favorite artistic masterpieces become visible: baroque sculpture and Byzantine icon. The conscious connection between abstract form and visual experience was once well substantiated by his compatriot, Ukrainian cubo-futurist Oleksandr Archipenko: “Art is not what we see, but what we have inside us.” Dynamic rotating rhythms, which are always the basis of the compositional structure of Ivan’s works, give them subconscious affinity with Archipenko’s sculptures. Because neither the feeling of mass nor rhythm can be imitated, these things are the fruit of the subconscious germination.
The play of light in his paintings is philosophical and also the fruit of his personal evolution, because in order to reach the simultaneous harmonies of open tones, he had to overcome the routine of perceived mistakes. Each of his new compositions is an emanation of a new light stream with its “uncontrolled” effects of optics, as if under the lens of different magnification. Thus, will you find different paint textures in the same fragment of canvas. Ivan Turetsky’s knowledge of art techniques is at the level of a scientist-restorer or an expert of ancient and modern painting. Here you will see the brilliance of silk, of satin, thetransparency of orchid petals, even the warmth of home-woven fabric. In his hometown he is known as an experienced collector of antiquities, and creator of family coats of arms. And when I see spherical circles in his works, I imagine the wandering magnifying glass of the collector, who, with scientific precision, explores artistic form.
Turetsky’s works have much in common with the British philosopher David Deutsch’s theories. They fall into the mainstream worldview, where the unresolved issues of the “structure of reality” and the “infinity of being” are important. In fact, Deutsch’s positivist view on the prospect of progress as an “infinite chain of intentional knowledge formation” is almost an aesthetic conception for the artist Turetsky. For him, “all Being is an eternal labyrinth, where in the abysses of the shadows there is an image of disappointment, and only the presence of the dark side highlights the texture of bright parties.” Ivan Turetsky’s paintings are a suggestion of these current phenomena: the chain of acquired knowledge and Plotinus’ theory of emanation.
Almost all of Turetsky’s last paintings depict the “beginning of infinity”, which reveal the common features of the Ukrainian millennia in art. In the early twentieth century the category of speed in this image of Ukrainian infinity was introduced by the avant-garde artist Alexander Bogomazov, who launched a millennial meander in a spiral of rotating motion. Ivan Turetsky was destined to bring into this image the category of virtual multi-space, where globally and simultaneously it is possible to be present everywhere and in different time zones.
Today, the Ukrainian community practically does not notice Ivan Turetsky’s work, because the artist does not want to belong to an “actual subculture”. Instead, from the perspective of an international view of his work, he is a colourful representative of contemporary Ukrainian art, a manifestation of a creative mind and national identity.
by Bohdan Mysiuha, PhD in Art History, art critic