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Artistic versatility of Vasyl Korchynsky


In the land of Podillya, in one of the villages of which Vasyl Korchynsky was born, late August, after the Orthodox Church Feast of the Transfiguration at which apples are blessed by priests, is the time when the days are particularly lucid and serene, and when the night comes, the stillness descends on the countryside in which you can hear the apple trees talking quietly to each other, Oh my apples are red and ripe, and Oh yes, mine are ripe and red as well. All kinds of secrets will be revealed to you, if at night you sit down on the warm earth, lean against the scabrous trunk of an apple tree, and let your gaze meander across the starry sky or follow the Milky Way. Some such secrets must have been revealed to a boy named Vasyl who much later dared to hint at them in his paintings.


Technically, Vasyl Korchynsky is a painter and a graphic artist  and much more into the bargain  he is a poet with a metaphoric frame of mind who can see the sun in a glowing ember and the ocean in a drop of water. Also, he knows how to pray and build churches. In other words he is an Artist with a capital A. In his daily life, he has been a churchwarden and a lay Orthodox Christian brother for many years.

I would call him a Baroque man on the analogy with a Renaissance man, a universal character, who wants to live in peace and harmony with nature, with people and with God. He does not renounce the world the way the Ukrainian eighteenth-century itinerant philosopher Skovoroda did  quite the other way round  he lets the world catch him now and again in its multicoloured nets. But its a special kind of a world too  different from the one we, the rest of us live in  its a comprehensive fairy-tale world of apples, temptations, immaculate purity and chasteness, a world of spirit. This multiple, antinomic character of Korchynskys work causes quantity to be transformed into quality. The artist works in many media  vytynanka (a sort of collage), water colours, linocut, monotype, oils. His graphics art, his wall paintings, his decorative, and purely ornamental works, his easel paintings are pouring in great numbers out of the cornucopia of his creativity. Korchynskys versatility, his dexterity in the many media and techniques he works in, make him a new and rare phenomenon in the present-day Ukrainian art. In some way, Korchynskys art brings to mind the great wave of art trends and innovations of the early twentieth century. The free winds of interest in his art pick his works up and carry them to many parts of the world, placing them on the walls of museums and private collections. Some of them even alight on the vestments of priests!

There is no telling whether Korchynskys art would be so deeply rooted in the Ukrainian national ground (or even whether hed be the artist he is), had it been not for the inspiring influence of Halyna Zubchenko, an artist in her own right who belonged to the intelligentsia of the nineteen-sixties, that is the people who laid the foundation of Ukrainian cultural revival and national independence movement. It was Zubchenko who was Korchynskys teacher at the Lviv Printing and Graphics Art Institute, and it was she who instilled a deeper understanding of Ukrainian national culture in him, who grafted his creativity onto the tree of Ukrainian art. Alas, she is no more among the living, but every time Korchynsky enters his studio, she comes back to life. He says the teacher whom he will never forget is always there, giving him inspiration.

Korchynskys art combines originality, based on the traditions of Ukrainian art, and open-minded attitude to the achievements of world art. He borrows from the whole world of Ukrainian art and tradition with its multilayer symbolism, and transforms the borrowings into his own artistic visions. Quite often he uses a module  squares of different sizes, for example, which he fills with his highly ornamental abstract compositions, and it deepens the subtext of his works. Probably, in this he follows the principle employed in the construction of Ukrainian wooden churches, and it appears he does it quite purposefully rather than by pure intuition. It is not accidental that Korchynsky provided a completely new design for a wooden church, Petropavlivska tserkva, that was being built in the Kharkivsky housing project in Kyiv, and then made sure everything was done in strict accordance with his design. Incidentally, the church was erected at the spot which had been blessed by Patriarch Volodymyr (Romanyuk) shortly before his death.

Scanning Korchynskys works in my minds eye, I cannot really say which of them I like better than others. They are all so different, and I think people with very different tastes in art can find something that will be close to their hearts. As far as I am concerned, decorative landscapes and vytynanky are my favourites. Korchynskys esthetics is based on the premise which was put forward by the Church Fathers and which postulates that the artist is a tool in the hand of God, and consequently, the only true Artist is God Himself, and human artists are stylizers at best. At the same time, Korchynskys technique and use of media are completely his own. The avant-garde character of many of his works stirs imagination and a world that emerges out of it amazes and you just cant help admiring it. I have no doubt that Korchynskys art is created largely thanks to the impulses that originated in the purity and carefree attitudes of the childhood years  and not only of the artist himself but of the beholder as well.

Somewhere there, in the Ukrainian countryside, there are boys and girls, sitting under a huge, old apple tree and staring into the clear, velvety blue sky, and every time a ripe, aromatic apple falls down from one of the branches of the tree, and hits the warm earth with a dull thud, the repercussions from this fall spread far and wide, and touch the strings of the heart.


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By the Ukrainian Orthodox priest Andriy Vlasenko


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