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Alimpiy. 1989. Bronze, stone.
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The winner of the annual Ukraine’s Person of the Year Competition is awarded the Prometheus Prestige Prize. The prize is a graceful statuette, the original of which has been created by Oleh Pinchuk, a sculptor from Kyiv. He has become well known for high artistic quality, unusual imagery and excellent artistic taste.
As a graduate of Kyiv Arts Institute, he went to Switzerland to improve his skills at the High School of Visual Arts and after his return to Ukraine he has been working very fruitfully as a sculptor whose creations are in high demand. Many of his works have found their way into museums and private collections both in Ukraine and abroad. He has become what is usually called “a fashionable artist” and it is surely very good that professionalism has become fashionable in Ukraine.

Fantasy, irony and refinement are the three major ingredients of Pinchuk’s art. Moreover, his talent imbues his creations with a quality of high artistic value. 
He was fortunate to have started his work as a sculptor at the time when the epoch of the stifling “socialist realism,” the official art doctrine of the Soviet Union, was giving Fantasy, irony and refinement are the three major ingredients of Pinchuk’s art. Moreover, his talent imbues his creations with a quality of high artistic value.

He was fortunate to have started his work as a sculptor at the time when the epoch of the stifling “socialist realism,” the official art doctrine of the Soviet Union, was giving way to new approaches to art.

It was new art that looked for inspiration in the artist’s heart, art that expressed his innermost feelings and philosophical insights into the nature of our world, art that began to look for new ways of expression.

In Pinchuk’s world, one finds both the reflections of reality around us and flights of imagination.

His creations combine features of human and animal figures, and this combination is so organic and looks so natural that they form a world of their own.

In Pinchuk’s series of sculptures called Fish one finds most bizarre combinations of human and piscine features.
Though the pieces are static in the sense that there is no outward movement portrayed, they are full of life. For example, a vein on the temple of a piscine-human creature is made to look as though it is pulsing, thus transforming highly polished bronze into a living thing.

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Prometheus Prestige. The prize awarded
by the Man
of the Year Competition.
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Liberation of Amsterdam. 1997.
Bronze, gold.
The series Bulls and Other Animals unite rather small-sized pieces of sculpture, compact, and at the same time giving an impression of monumentality. Silhouettes and shapes are clearly defined, ideas revealing a search for a world, filled with loving wisdom and fantastic dreams, are easily perceived. These pieces bear close relation to some creations of Ukrainian folk art, one of the characteristic features of which was to imbue animals portrayed with human spirit. Bold combination of reality with fantasy creates a peculiar emotional effect.

Pinchuk employs several methods of provoking a desirable emotional response. Among them — elongation of the human bodies in his sculptures. Pinchuk, with his excellent training that has allowed him to master the skill of portraying a human body realistically, knows how to distort in a special artistic way so as to achieve an emotional impact he seeks to convey.

At the early stages of his career, Pinchuk created very “serious” pieces (Feodosiy Pechersky, the Founder of Kyiv Lavra Monastery; Alimpiy, the Monk and Icon Painter; Flight of Two Lovers), with gracefully elongated human bodies and with no irony whatsoever.
Some ironic overtones began to appear in his works at a later stage. Probably it is the conditions of our life that make us feel ironic about many serious things.

Influence of Ukrainian folk art is definitely felt in such works of Pinchuk’s as A Great Game, Upward Flight, Fall, Dancing Cupid. All of these pieces are given wings, which are not immediately perceived. The facial features of these figures are far from being ideally proportioned but there is still a definite refinement and grace both in the faces and the bodies. The dead bronze comes to life through a very skilful representation of movement.

Pinchuk’s creations that seem to come from the depths of the subconscious, are given features that link them to the reality around us. The face of an imaginary creature may be that of a peasant, weather-beaten and cunning, and the creature itself may have sturdy legs and feet firmly planted on the ground. Yet, you never forget that you are looking at a figment of imagination captured in bronze.

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The Consciousness and the Subconscious Playing. 1992. Bronze.
Pinchuk freely plays with shapes, materials, their textures, manners of execution.

It is especially evident in the series called Toys for Grown-ups. On the one hand, these sculptures, designed very carefully, seem to be called upon to amuse us, to make us smile, but the longer we look at them, the better we feel that there is much more in them than easy fun. Little things, hanging from these sculptures here and there like pendants, create a feeling of perpetual movement. Immutability and change are shown in Pinchuk’s Toys in such a manner that they stimulate philosophical reflections.

Three Feathers sculptures (a sort of a triptych) bear some relation to the art nouveau style of the late nineteenth-early twentieth century, but they are also filled with irony and grotesque. There are so many amusing decorative elements that one is encouraged to examine these sculptures for a long time, studying every little detail. The figures look rather funny but you do not want to poke fun at them, as there is something very endearing in them.

One could go on describing Pinchuk’s sculptures but even the ones mentioned amply demonstrate that Pinchuk is in constant search for something new. He eschews edification and stereotypes, he avoids exploiting a manner of artistic creation that has already brought good results, he is constantly on the move. His highly individual approach to art and his inner freedom open new ways of artistic creation.

By Olena Ivanova-Solodovnikova,
art critic and historian.
Pinchuk Art Studio,
tel./fax: 380 (44) 243-8206

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A Warrior on a Ball. Bronze, stone.

Illustrated to article.

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