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Ukrainian painter who seeks inspiration in Ukrainian culture of the past
Andriy Honchar, who is now 32 years old, graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in 1997. At the Academy, he studied in the Studio of Historical Painting under Professor Feodosiy Humenyuk. His graduate work, Hryhory Skovoroda or The Garden of Divine Songs, was awarded the highest grade. He spent another three years of further training at the post-graduate courses at the Academy. His Portrait of Ivan Mazepa and his murals in the Mykhailivsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral earned him the courses’ graduation certificate.
There is a Ukrainian saying, Apples fall close to the apple tree, the meaning of which is clear without any explanations (there are similar expressions in English — As the tree, so the fruit; or Like father like son). Too a large extent, Andriy and his brother Ivan are such apples. Andriy’s father is Petro Honchar, director of the Ukrainian Centre of Folk Culture Ivan Honchar Museum, and an artist in his own right — he is a member of the National Union of Painters of Ukraine. Andriy Honchar’s mother is Nina Matviyenko, a well-known singer who performs folk songs and songs inspired by folk culture.
Andriy and his brother must have also been influenced by their grandfather, Ivan Honchar, a sculptor and ethnographer, and the founder of a museum of folk culture which later became the integral part of the Ukrainian Folk Culture. Ivan Honchar’s private house was situated not far from the Pechersk Lavra Monastery in Kyiv and visiting it was like visiting a museum. Those visits to see their grandfather and his house must have served as a great artistic inspiration. The brothers were allowed to touch anything they wanted in their grandfather’s museum (maybe with a very few exceptions), handle the museum items with care or even put on national dresses which were part of the collection.
The atmosphere in the family was that of Ukrainian culture, with Ukrainian art on the walls, and with Ukrainian folk songs and stories lavishly provided by their mother. In fact, the whole family sang together in their family singing quartet. Ukrainian traditions, Ukrainian icons and Ukrainian applied and decorative arts to which the brothers were exposed must have contributed greatly both to their artistic tastes and their world outlook.
Both Andriy and Ivan studied at an art school and later at the Art Academy. In 1999, the brothers took part in an exhibition, Art of the Honchar Family, which was held at the Culture Centre of Protection of Architectural Landmarks and Historical and Cultural Monuments in Kyiv. Works by Ivan Honchar, by his son Petro Honchar and by his grandsons Ivan and Anrdiy that were shown at the exhibition, were so different in execution, style and media, but so similar in spirit.
In the years 1996–1999, Andriy Honchar painted murals under the guidance of his teacher Feodosiy Humenyuk and alongside him (among Hymenyuk’s works probably the best known are murals in the Pokrovska Church in Kyiv). In the years 1999– 2001, Andriy Honchar took part in decorating the interiors of the Mykhailivsky Zlatoverkhy (St Michael’s Golden-domed) Cathedral, alongside his father and other artists. Andriy was responsible for such murals as St Kuzma and St Demyan, St Ariad, St Nataliya, St Mavra, St Nina and Holy Archangels.
The Mykhailivsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral was built in the twelfth century and destroyed during the soviet atheistic campaign in the 1930s — but after Ukraine had regained her independence the church was rebuilt. In decorating it, Andriy Honchar and other painters were inspired by the religious art of the twelfth and later centuries.
In the years that followed the work in the Mykhailivsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral, Andriy Honchar continued to create murals, both on the exteriors and in the interiors of such churches as the Uspensky Cathedral in the Lavra Monastery in Kyiv and in the Rizdva Bohorodytsy (Birth of the Virgin) Church in the village of Viktorivka in the Land of Cherkashchyna. In 2004, he, together with other artists, took part in creating the iconostasis for the Rizdva Khrystovoho (Birth of Christ) Church in the village of Bobruyky in the Land of Chernihivshchyna.
In addition to murals, Andriy Honchar paints portraits and large historical works, such as Kozak Mamay and Hetman of Ukraine Ivan Mazepa. When he waxes lyrical, he paints portraits of his mother.
Andriy Honchar admits that among his sources of inspiration are the paintings of the period which is known as “Ukrainian Baroque,” many samples of which can be found in the Pechersk Lavra Monastery in Kyiv. “I’m interested both in the technique of painting in those times and the principles, symbolism and mood of Ukrainian Baroque art — its decorativeness, mysteriousness, festive and poetic quality are greatly inspiring,” says Andriy Honchar.
Though the artist borrows a lot from art of the past, he is an original master, fluent in the language of art and highly sensitive to light, colours and shapes.
By Volodymyr ONYSHCHENKO
Portrait of Ivan Mazepa
Portrait of Vasyl Lytvyn,