It is hardly the best way to introduce a painter by attempting to describe a picture, especially if it's a caricature or a cartoon. Nevertheless I'll give it a try: a little man is standing in the street of a big town at night in cold winter; he is surrounded by houses with windows, brightly lit from inside, evoking dreams of cosy warmth and a settled life; the little man is watching snowflakes, shaped like windows, alighting on the palm of his outstretched hand - and lo and behold, here, he's captured one of the windows! But alas, it is already melting on his warm skin...This picture (one even does not know how properly to call it - it is not a «caricature» or a «cartoon» in the proper sense of these words) is a sort of a melancholy short story rather than just a cartoon intended only to ridicule or entertain, and it has been chosen for verbal description from hundreds of others because it's very characteristic of Kosobukin's art which though technically can be described as «cartoons» or «caricature» does not seek to reflect current political trends or follow new-fangled fashions. His pictures could have been created at almost any time in the past a hundred years or so, or maybe a hundred years from now into the future.
The World of Romantic Dreamer


Kosobukin deals with the eternal human issues: life and death; man and woman; parents and children; love and hatred; cold loneliness and warm companionship. Has man's desire to unravel the mystery of these things and relationships diminished or radically changed within the last two thousand years? Hardly.
Kosobukin seems to be one of the most humane cartoonists of our time. He is apparently more concerned with the plight of the «little man» than with the technical, scientific and social ideas which keep revolutinizing our world. Kosobukin always finds a warm touch of understanding to introduce into his pictures, even those that show quite repulsive characters. One can safely say that Kosobukin's pictures are «short stories written graphically», with «graphically» used in the literal sense of the word. Have a good look at his pictures and you'll easily see it for yourself. Kosobukin's pictures can be translated into a funny, pithy, succinct joke or into a lengthy story, a novel even - all you have to do is to add details suggested by the picture itself.


All of Kosobukin's pictures bear such a stamp of his individual style that they are immediately recognizable among any number of caricatures and cartoons drawn by other artists. It is not only Kosobukin's unique style, manner of presentation, «artistic approach» and whatever else that the art critics are so keen to write about, that makes Kosobukin's art so distinguishable - it is the way the artist looks at this world of ours, at man, at life. Kosobukin the artist and Kosobukin the person are inseparable, they make up one complex individual. He practises what he preaches and ahead of anything else he preachers kindness.
There is no discrepancy in Kosobukin's pictures between the story they tell and the way they are graphically presented. The artist seeks to make his pictures paradoxical and yet he always finds a way of introducing a kind irony. His pictures are both funny and sad. Kosobukin is endowed with a special talent of presenting the most profound problems which concern people all around the world in such a manner that any person can understand them.


Kosobukin's art has now become a fashionable subject to talk about and the art critics have come to take him quite seriously. But one cannot say he had an easy start. He had not had any professional artistic training before he started turning out his first cartoons. In fact, he graduated from a college training civil airline engineers in Kharkiv and then went on to work at the Antonov Aircraft Design Centre in Kyiv in the capacity of an engineer. It was at the age of twenty six, twenty years ago that he had his first cartoon published in a periodical. Twenty six is rather an advanced age for an artist to start a creative career but, in the words of Yuri Kosobukin himself, right after his cartoons had begun to be published, he felt it was a sort of a breakthrough and ever since he has never been lacking in creative ideas. «I soared up into the lofty realms of the art of cartoon and caricature on the wings of inspiration, says the artist, and I've stayed there, but, of course, I knew how to draw a little. Once you've found your style, you can improve your technique endlessly».


Yuri Kosobukin has thousands of his cartoons published in newspapers and magazines, his pictures have participated in dozens of international cartoon contests and the artist has picked up over a hundred prizes; his pictures have been exhibited in so many countries of the world that it would be easy to say in which they have not been; the artist has been awarded prizes in twenty countries but - alas! - Kosobukin himself has in most cases been unable to travel to these countries and receive the prizes personally.
When asked why he bothers to keep sending his pictures to these innumerable cartoonists' contests , as there is so little chance of his going abroad to pick up all the awarded prizes, Kosobukin says: «Why? Because, first, it's the only way for me to keep showing my work in many foreign countries. Secondly, I do consider things are going the right way for me because my pictures have not stopped getting prizes and awards in so many countries that differ so much in religion, ethnic make-up, culture, opinions, humour, if you want, and it means that they are understood and appreciated there. What else is needed? What else can make an artist truly happy?»

What, indeed?
Kosobukin is firmly convinced that it's better to win several lowest prizes but all of them in different places, than to win the highest prize in one country only once in a lifetime. Well, as far as the «highest prizes» are concerned, Kosobukin has taken 33 of them and there is little doubt he'll get more .
Kosobukin in twenty years of intensive work as a creative artist-cartoonist, has managed to create his special unique world, peopled with his so easily recognizable «little men» who laugh and weep, enjoy life and suffer under the blows that life liberally deals them. These «little men» - naive, easily hurt, sometimes down-and-out, sometimes striving to fashion a place in life, seeking truth - in some strange and inexplicable manner resemble their creator, a romantic man with a generous and warm heart and a remarkable talent.

Serhiy BOYKO

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