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Art of photography in Ukraine
Volodymyr Nikitenko and Oleksandr Chaptsev, artistic photographers and members of the National Union of Artists-Photographers of Ukraine, express their views on Ukrainian photography in general, and on three exhibitions in particular.
Those who travel with their cameras naturally want to press the shutter button in the right place at the right time. While photographers have their own photographic points of view, leading to a wide variety of perspectives and subject matter captured by their inquiring camera lenses, there appear to be some shutterbugs in Ukraine who, judging by their work, happen to be in the right place at the right time — all the time.
The most picturesque Ukrainian landscapes are truly sights to behold and worth capturing in photos.
The Carpathian and Crimean mountains are always impressive with their spectacular views, while the steppe reserves north of the Black and Azov Seas are a quiet canvas of calm pastels. These reserves are also the home to large bird populations, providing birdwatchers and photographers with tremendous opportunities for exploration.
We believe the vast plains of Ukraine exemplify the typical Ukrainian landscape and offer the greatest opportunities for artistic photography. Wide and majestic rivers, their smaller tributaries, and even smaller streams all roll their waters across these plains, meandering among the undulating hills and groves, half hidden in the high steppe grasses.
For those with more of a penchant for culture, there is a great deal to photograph too. Ukraine is rich in historical and architectural landmarks ranging from sites of the ancient Trypillya culture, which dates to thousands of years BCE, to golden-domed medieval cathedrals and little wooden churches hundreds of years old that have been spared destruction, either by human hand or nature’s.
The beginnings of the Trypillya culture predate the great civilizations of Sumer and ancient Egypt. A growing body of scholarship has suggested, if not concluded, that it was the system of symbols and proto-writing developed by this culture which provided the impetus for the development of Sumerian cuneiform, history’s oldest writing system discovered to date. The consensus among scholars has also strengthened that it was from the territory of Ukraine that the great movement of proto-Indo-European peoples began into Europe and Asia, resulting in the spread and prominence of the Indo-European family of languages throughout the world today.
Archeology continues to excavate many artifacts from Trypillya culture sites, and these artifacts can now be seen in museums. Some historians claim, however, that museums are not the only place where you can get a glimpse of this culture, and point to the typical and still extant Ukrainian peasant house, with its whitewashed walls and thatch roof, which historians say has changed little since Trypillian times. The embroidered patterns on traditional Ukrainian shirts and towels continue to speak in symbols passed down through the millennia from the Trypillya culture people.
In the centuries that followed the Trypillya culture, Ukraine saw many other peoples arrive, occupy and depart its territory with their diverse cultures. Tourist attractions abound in Ukraine and boast a great variety of them, including medieval churches and castles, Cossack sites, beautiful parks, wonders of craftsmanship, and superb natural scenery.
Unfortunately, the ravages of time, human negligence, purposeful destruction, vandalism, wars and aggressive Soviet atheism either completely destroyed a tremendous number of architectural monuments or left them in unsalvageable ruin.
It was only after Ukraine gained independence in 1991 that awareness and appreciation of Ukraine’s natural and manmade landmarks began to grow.
Three exhibitions of photography — Kulturno-istorychni pamyatky Ukrayiny, (‘Cultural and Historical Landmarks of Ukraine’), Ukrayino moya, Ukrayino! (‘My Beloved Ukraine!’), and Vid Karpat do Uralu (‘From the Carpathians to the Urals’) — were recently shown in Kyiv art galleries. Each exhibition, organized by the National Union of Artists-Photographers of Ukraine, amply demonstrated the photographers’ fascination with Ukraine’s history and natural beauty.
The ‘Cultural and Historical Landmarks of Ukraine’ exhibition strove to present Ukraine’s cultural heritage in all its variety. Of the thousands of photo works proposed for the exhibition, only 100 were chosen. In addition to works by established artistic photographers, such as Vasyl Pylypyuk, Volodymyr Dubas, Volodymyr Bysovy, Mykola Turchyn, and Oleksandr Ivanov, photos by fairly recent entrants in the world of photographic art were also presented, including photos by Kostyantyn Fedorov, Petro Stakhov, Oleh Zhariy, Oleksandr Prymak, Svitlana Korolyonok, Hanna Herasymova and Yury Danylevsky.
The exhibition ‘My Beloved Ukraine!’ is a regular annual event, and photographs presented at these shows reflect a wide spectrum of subjects and events, including the beauties of nature, Ukraine’s historical and cultural heritage, and architectural landmarks. The goal of these exhibitions is to heighten people’s awareness of Ukraine’s history and culture, and draw the authorities’ attention to the need to improve the maintenance and insure the preservation of Ukraine’s historical and architectural landmarks. And, of course, the more people are exposed to the natural and cultural beauties of Ukraine, the better Ukraine’s image becomes in the world.
The ‘From the Carpathians to the Urals’ exhibition, which showcased works by two photographers and travelers, Roman Mykhaylyuk and Mykola Ivashchenko, was a popular and critical success. Both photographers often found themselves in potentially dangerous situations when taking the photos that were shown at this exhibition, particularly in the mountains, where they struggled and maneuvered over hazardous terrain to find the best angles for their shots.
Ukrainian artist-photographers and the National Union of Artists-Photographers of Ukraine would like their works to be seen by as many people in as many countries as possible. They are dreamers and they dream of the day when a photograph of a scenic location or historical landmark in Ukraine is instantly recognized as Ukrainian anywhere in the world, no matter how distant from Ukraine. They want to make the scenery of Ukraine as easily recognizable as, say, the fjords of Norway, the French Riviera, or the canals of Venice.
The National Union of Artists-Photographers of Ukraine (NUAPhU) was founded in December 1989. Today among its 700 active and 23 honorary members are photographers from all the major cities and regional centers of Ukraine, as well as citizens of France, India, Switzerland, the USA, Germany, Belgium and other countries. A number of NUAPhU members are recipients of Ukrainian honorary titles and prizes.
Sixty-two NUAPhU members are recipients of honorary titles awarded by the UNESCO Federation of Artistic Photography (FIAP).
NUAPhU members have been awarded more than 3,000 prizes at prestigious international and Ukrainian exhibitions. Yevhen Komarov from Yalta in Crimea has received the greatest number of awards and prizes — over 330 — among which 40 are gold medals.
NUAPhU can be contacted at tel.: + 38 (044) 361 7693 (92), fax: +38 (044) 279 0469, web site: www.photospilka.com,
Wedding at the Village of Kosmach
by Vasyl Pylyp’yuk.
Smoke of Recollections by Valentyna Opolska.
Genoese fortress in Sudak, Crimea.
Photo by Andriy Kovalevsky.
Fortress in Kamyanets-Podilsky.
Photo by Oleksandr Prymak.
At the Hunt by Oleksandr Zadyraka.
After the Harvest by Oleksandr Hordiyevych.
Watchdog by Semen Melnyk.
Boundless by Stanislav Dovhy.
Southern Terraces of the Vorontsov Palace in Alupka,
Crimea. Photo by Oleksandr Chaptsev.
Photo by Mykola Ivashchenko.
Kamyana Mohyla (Stone Barrow) in the
background with a pagan idol in the foreground.
Photo by Mykola Ivashchenko.
The cathedral silhouetted against the sunset.
Photo by Mykola Ivashchenko.
Children in the City by Oleksandr Sinelnykov.
In the Native Element by Ihor Berezhny.
At a Turkish fortress in Kerch, Crimea.
Photo by Valentyn Kovalenko.
En Plain Air by Anhelyna Tarasenko.