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A Flash of Emotions

I associate expressionist style in modern painting with a momentary flash of emotions, and the vision of a galloping, unbridled and untamed steed comes before my minds eye. Only a very experienced and patient person can tame this steed of inspiration and then it will take him to fame and fulfilment.

Boris Buryak was born in the village of Podvirne, Bukovyna, Western Ukraine, in 1953.
Educated at an arts school and at the Lviv Academy of Art.
Member of the Union of Artists of Ukraine.
Works in easel and monumental painting.
Winner of the Union of Artists of Ukraine Prize, Kyiv, 1991; one-man exhibitions: Lviv, 1986; Poland, 1988; New York, 1991; Vienna, 1993; Metz 1994.
Other exhibitions: Kyiv, 1991; Vienna, 1993 and 1994; Prague, 1994 and 1995; Munich, 1995; Kyiv, 1995; Dortmund, 1995; Nuremberg, 1996; Prague, 1996.
Buryaks works are to be found in the museums of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States, and in private collections in Ukraine, United States, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Belgium. (from a catalogue of Buryaks paintings)

I met Borys Buryak in 1993 in Kyiv. It was at the Andriyivsky Uzviz, a street where artists display their creations putting them on folding tables, hanging them on the walls or propping them against lamp posts. When I went there on the Day of Ukraines Independence, I spotted, among so many other works, several brightly expressive paintings. They turned out to have been painted by Serhiy Hay and Petro Harpash, painters from Lviv. I made their acquaintance and offered to have their paintings shown at the Slavutych Gallery in Kyiv.

In order to select the best works for such an exhibition I went to Lviv where I was introduced to several young painters whose paintings were done in a more or less the same stylistic vein. This style, rooted in the works of Borys Buryak, who had not only been an inspiration but even a teacher of some of these young painters, combined many qualities: age-old noble culture of ancient Lviv; well-developed Lvivs academic school of painting; refined reserve (characteristic of western Ukrainian intellectuals); ardent temperament of Ukrainian Cossacks and multi-coloured richness of Ukrainian natural scenery.

At the same time, this style reflects the dynamic expressiveness of our life today, whose integral part we, Ukrainians, are. That is why it is particularly unfortunate that the general public does not have much chance to see Buryaks works the artist participates in fewer exhibitions than one wishes he would, and besides, he spends a lot of time abroad.

When he returned from his recent stay in Austria where he had been working for some time, I talked to him in the offices of the Welcome to Ukraine Magazine.

Can you explain why your participation in all kinds of art festivals and artistic get-togethers here in Ukraine is so limited?

There is no straightforward or easy explanation. I seem to be living more in the past now than in the present. I feel that so many things have already been done, so many things have been tried Its a bit frightening, you know does it mean that Ive grown old? On the other hand, Ive gained a lot of experience and that experience tells me I have to take decisions in an unhurried manner, and that the process of creation should be measured and painstaking. As far as taking part in art festivals and exhibitions is concerned, I give my consent to show up or to show my works only after I learn exactly what kind of festival or exhibition it is, who takes part in it, what its status is. But once the decision to participate has been made, I prepare for it in a very thorough way. I limit my participation in, as you said, artistic get-togethers, because Ive grown to be very careful with my time. I take part only in those things which I think are truly interesting or useful. I look at it from this point of view: I know that there will be people at the exhibition at which I show my works who already know my art, and since they come it means they like my art. I have no right to let them down and show something which is not quite up to the mark. That is why often enough it may take several years between the initial study and the final result when I can pronounce my picture more or less finished. It does happen that it takes much longer that it has been originally planned to complete the painting, and the patron who has commissioned the picture turns up at my studio unannounced to retrieve it because he or she has grown impatient and would not wait any longer.

Unfortunately, not all the painters are so demanding and assiduous in their work. There are quite a few half-finished works, in fact studies, shown in galleries and art shops as completed paintings. And there are people who do not seem to care enough or to know how to distinguish between good and bad art, who buy such pictures which are so far from perfection. Do you know what Im talking about?

Of course! I think that to a certain extent it can be explained by that special feeling of transience that many people get because they are living in a period of transition when what you have today seems to matter more than what you may hope for tomorrow. Some very few become millionaires, others many more of them become penniless in a short period of time. The art market is flooded with works created as momentary expressions, and such expressions reflect the feeling of transience many people experience these days.

But the true art lover still exists, he knows how to tell good art from bad art, how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Many painters of my generation have in mind such art lovers when they work. We were brought up with a different reference scale of values. Probably, it is one of the reasons why I, knowing the state our art market is in, prefer now to show my works in such countries as France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I know that every exhibition of my new works is eagerly awaited there.

Art critics have taught us to put the works of every artist within a particular trend or style. Is there any such trend or style that you think your art belongs to?

Frankly, I do not care for any kind of pigeonholing. Ive never tried to follow one particular narrow style or trend. I am of the opinion that all these styles and trends are just passing fads, and what a bitter and even cruel disappointment awaits those who have geared themselves to short-lived fashions! Im a believer in love for what you do in life, in being a true professional. I love to mix paints on my palette, to exteriorise whats inside me and recreate my emotions and my thoughts in shapes and in colours on the canvas.

But if we try to find a definition for my art I think post-traditionalism may do. Its a style that has absorbed all the best attainments gained by many centuries of painting from the past to the present. And of course, only those are chosen that the artist thinks fit his understanding and feeling what his art should be technically, conceptually and colourwise. A true artist should live his art and then there will always be people who will relate to his art. Every artist has a certain number of people who like his or her art more than anybody elses. There are even some who understand your art probably even better than you do it yourself. And you can find such people wherever you go and show your art.

What are, in your opinion, the most significant developments in the current art life in Lviv?

It wouldnt be a mistake if I name the Autumnal Saloon art exhibition in Lviv. I wish it would grow into an all-Ukrainian event. The exhibition makes you feel how the art process is progressing. There are exhibitions and other events organized by the Dzyga Association in its gallery. I would also like to mention here the name of Markovych from the German town of Duren. He is a physician and a collector of good art. Born in Lviv, hes been collecting paintings by Ukrainian artists for many years, and now he owns more than one hundred and twenty canvases, among them works by Ivan Trush, Volodymyr Makarenko from Paris, Volodymyr Strelnikov from Munich, Volodymyr Tsyopko from Odesa and others. There are also several of my paintings in his collection.

Youve been teaching at an art academy for a long time, and youve had quite a few young painters as disciples in your studio. What is your opinion of talent a thing which is so difficult to define?

I do not believe that there are people who are totally talentless. God in His love for us, humans, gives us all some talents, sometimes even too many or too much of them. But we ourselves must find out how to use the talents given us. If you have a clear-cut goal of what you want to achieve, and a great desire to achieve it, then you are sure to get good results.

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