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The art of Anatoly Marchuk
Anatoly Marchuk grew up in the countryside and many of his paintings reflect the vibrant colours of the lavishness of nature. Gentle tranquility permeates Anatoly Marchuk’s art. Colours and shades of colour in Marchuk’s landscapes are wonderfully transparent, and recreate on canvas the lucid, distant horizons as though seen through the clear air of an Indian summer.
Oleksandr KAVUNENKO, a poet, who is fascinated with the art of Anatoly Marchuk, relates some of his impressions.
Anatoly Marchuk was born in the village of Kozychanka in the Land of Kyivshchyna. It is a marvelously picturesque place indeed. He began drawing as a small boy, using willow twigs instead of pencils, and the sand instead of paper. His native village remains his home base, though from time to time he leaves it to go into the wide world where he may spend months — only to come back where he belongs. More than once he was invited to come and stay for good in distant lands where his life would be much more comfortable, but he always rejects such proposals, saying that things are very different if you look at them from the perspective of his native Kozychanka. Marchuk’s landscapes depict the scenery of his native land close to his heart. In one of the poems devoted to his art the poet says,
His soul is talking to Heaven,
Bathed in the morning dew;
The shining colours of the world
Gather on his radiant palette.
His art is well known in Germany, France and Poland, and his one-man exhibitions held abroad and at home in Ukraine generate a lot of popular and critical interest.
Marchuk is a man of gregarious, open-hearted and friendly nature. He used to be a member of the Lud artistic group which later merged with another group of artists, Svitovyd. The Svitovyd painters share the most important artistic principles, ideas, views and very friendly relations. They have been together for ten years now. Among other members of this group are Ivan Pylypenko, Anatoly Burtovy, Vasyl Korchynsky, Mykhailo Horlovy, Mykola Kochubey and Vitaly Movchan. Their collective art output and the number of prizes and honorary titles they have collected are very impressive, but they never boast of their achievements.
The Svitovyd painters show a never-slackening interest in the work of each other, and every so often they all come to Kozychanka to paint in the open air, which they greatly enjoy doing. Then they discuss their art, their achievements and failures, they absorb the energies of the land. Their conversations last well into the night when the especially bright stars and the moon are reflected in the languid waters of the river.
Does not the fame fade with time?
Is not laughter followed by tears?
Is not it high art to live brightly?
Probably it’s the greatest art of all.
Yevheny Buket, a writer, was so inspired by a visit to Kozychanka and conversations with the artists that he wrote a book of his impressions which was published not without Marchuk’s help. Incidentally, Marchuk helped the author of this article too to get his poems published — several years ago Marchuk suggested I publish a collection of my poems, Za mezheyu babinoho lita (Beyond the Boundaries of the Indian Summer), and it is largely thanks to him that the book was released, not in Ukraine though, but in Poland.
Marchuk is one of those painters who keep providing pleasant surprises and who, at every next exhibition, shows something new and unexpected. One of such exhibitions was recently held at the Lavra Gallery in Kyiv.
I find Marchuk’s art to be an extraordinary phenomenon. He lives in nature, he breathes nature, he brings nature, live and vibrant, into his paintings. He keeps searching for new ways of expression, he seeks and explores the very sources of creativity. Every painting of his reflects his own nature too.
The Blakytni prostory (Blue Vistas) Triptych, Mertva natura (Dead Nature), and Misto (The City) are the paintings that are probably the best reflections of the present-day state of development of Marchuk’s art. In these paintings, he resorts to generalizations, and uses highly expressive means to show the rural and urban environments of today.
The painter makes his own very personal statement about Kyiv, its architectural landmarks and its cityscapes, and recreates in his paintings sights which you will not see in reality any longer. It gives me a warm feeling to think that in private collections abroad, his paintings tell the people who look at them of the glory of Kyiv, of its sacred and scenic places. His studio is situated in Andriyivsky Uzviz, a sort of a living art centre of Kyiv, in the very ancient heart of this city, and some of the paintings show us the views seen from the windows of his studio.
Marchuk is a refined colourist who follows nature’s suggestions and moods in choosing his colour schemes which range from bold juxtaposition of colours to subtle colour nuances. His use of colour makes him, in the opinion of many art critics, one of the most remarkable painters of Ukraine today.
These colours are like reflections in the swift waters,
They are suggestions from the depth too…
These colours have been granted by God
To make the whole world rejoice.
Anatoly Marchuk turned fifty on January 1 2006, but he looks younger for his age. He is full of verve and artistic elan, and he does not seem to ever lack inspiration guiding him along the road of his artistic career.
Girl Wearing a Flower Wreath.
Sad Girl. Oil on canvas, 75 x 60 cm. 1998.
Landscape. Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm. 2005.
Christmas Song. Oil on canvas, 75 x 65 cm. 2005.
Autumnal Flame. Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm. 2003.
On the Road. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm. 1998.