robably, every Master looks in his own way into the eternal mystery called the human heart. Ivan Marchuk is a Master. Looking at his paintings you discover in every one of them facets of your inner world. Ivan Marchukís pictures are landscape-meditations that open another reality in our everyday world. His still lifes - all those pears and pots - remind one of the hypothesis that the Universe has originated from a female source. Marchukís pictures touch new strings in oneís heart and make them vibrate gently and anxiously, excitedly and movingly.

Autumnal Dawns. Acrylic on canvas, 100 x80 cm.

Moon Over the Water. Tempera on canvas, 50 x70 cm

.Ivan Marchuk is a philosopher in painting, a painter who works hard. He believes that every day of work is the greatest gift given to man by the eternity. He continues to turn out pictures at a rate that has led some observers to call him ďUkrainian Picasso.Ē Marchukís own attitude to such comparisons is nonchalant, even ironic. He thinks that Marchuk should be compared only to Marchuk. He executes his paintings using a technique that he has invented himself. He calls his own style ďdabbing-on.Ē When he sees raised brows of the person who hears this ďterm,Ē he explains: ďI take a canvas, I take paints and brushes, and begin dabbing the paint onto the canvas with a brush. I keep dabbing on until I get a picture completed. I build it in a manner similar to the way a house is built.Ē Ivan Marchuk has been living in the United States for the past ten years. Two times a year he comes to Ukraine but does not stay long in Kyiv as he spends most of the time in travels going to many places in Ukraine, particularly to his native land of Ternopilshchyna. He is a devoted traveller, indefatigably itinerant. Paintings he has created in America are full of emotions. He groups them into cycles: New Expressions, Colourful Preludes and others. They resemble stained glass compositions on canvas, present forms without definite shapes. Only at the first glance these pictures seem chaotic. Marchuk does not view the world as being chaotic, there is another world that can be perceived in his paintings, the world of his thoughts, his subconsciousness. Every onlooker may find something that others would not see. Marchuk is very annoyed if someone asks him: What is it that you wanted to express by this picture? Ivan Marchuk considers his Voice of My Soul cycle of paintings to be his main artistic statement, his philosophical reflections in the form of paintings about life and destiny of man. Each painting is like a philosophical short story. A human figure that appears in some of the paintings always looks melancholy, forlorn and tired. Probably, the painter also believes that it is through doubt and through overcoming obstacles that we attain truth and lucidity? The artist confided to me that he liked all women, regardless of their age. Probably, that is why practically in all of his paintings one can see - or feel - the presence of Woman who gives life, joy and love, who inspires men to perform heroic deeds. His Blooming cycle of paintings seems to be a subtle hymn to womanhood. There is a sad note though that can be discerned in the paintings: they remind us that flowers and beauty will bloom when we will no longer be there to see it all. Every time he comes to Ukraine he brings over an exhibition of his paintings.

His last visit to Ukraine was not an exception in this respect. This yearís autumnal exhibition season opened with an exhibition of Ivan Marchukís paintings shown at Andriyivsky Uzviz. Looking at these pictures one feels the open or hidden presence of his native land. In many pictures one can discern hands emerging from the intricate interlacing of lines and colour patches. They are the hands of a creator, of a potter, of a sculptor, of an artist who creates a unique and chimerical world. The creator and his creation become one, inseparable. Marchuk and the virtual reality of his pictures are integrated into one whole. He invites us to take a trip through his world. Hromovytsya Berdnyk, a Welcome to Ukraine correspondent talks to Ivan Marchuk:

WU: Mr Marchuk, you have created more than a thousand paintings, itís quite a lot. You must be working very hard. Do you paint only in your studio? Do you wait for an inspiration?
Marchuk: As long as I remember myself, Iíve never been idle. Iím not made for being idle. Even at night I sleep about four hours. New ideas, thoughts, images keep me awake. Usually, I donít paint sketches and thatís why mostly I work in studios. Iíve always been somewhat envious of poets. All they need for their work is a piece of paper and a pen. Whereas a painter is obliged to have a shop with frames, canvases, paints, brushes, plus a lot more. I have three studios, one in New York and two in Kyiv. One of my Kyiv studios is my kitchen.

Lost Flowers. Acrylic on canvas, 100 x90 cm.

Reflections of the Sun on Snow. Tempera on canvas, 50x70 cm.

Colours of the Last Summer. Acrylic on canvas, 50 x70 cm.

Each of these places has its own full set of all necessary things but the environment is different and it gives me different moods. If inspiration comes to me when Iím travelling I pull out my sketch book and make sketches. Some of them are realized later as paintings.
WU: What do you appreciate most in travelling - meeting new people, getting to know new culture, new customs, or the actual movement from place to place?
: No, definitely not travelling for travellingís sake. I wish I could get from one place to another in a second. A spaceship would be an ideal vehicle for me. As is known, an artist gets new information through the eyes rather than through other senses. I love walking the streets and staring at the buildings, studying their architecture. I donít care to go to museums. When I was in Paris I did not feel like visiting any museum, even the Louvre. I enjoyed looking at the architectural marvels of Paris. Itís such a wonderful city that I would not be able to live there. You canít live in a wonderful dream, can you?
WU: Was your decision to go to the United States and live there a whim or a purposeful move? How has the new environment affected your life and work?
Marchuk: I went to the United States because in the Soviet Ukraine I was continuously subjected to harassment, I could not stand it any more, I wanted to find a place where I would be able "to hide and lick my wounds." It was a challenge. I did not know English, I did not know much about America, I had no friends there. But I managed to survive using my head and my hands. Now I can tell you that the United States and Ukraine are worlds apart. In America one begins to think of rest when one is well over fifty, everybody is working hard before that, and in Ukraine everybody seems to be having a rest. The same happens with me when I come to Ukraine - I canít work. People come to visit me, I go to visit someone. Socializing with friends, sitting in the cafes, staring at beautiful women - and no work.
Whereas in the United States I do nothing but work. But I canít help being nostalgic.
WU: Youíve been to many countries, youíve seen the world. Where did it feel best?
Marchuk: It felt best in Australia where I stayed the shortest time of all the places I lived in. I had been told over and over again that Iíd become in no time the number one painter in Australia and indeed when I got there my works did have a great success. But I was not after money, I was not interested in making a smooth career. I wanted freedom, I wanted to see and to learn as much as possible. And I moved on, and it so happened that I dropped anchor in New York. Still my life style remains quite different from that of most Americans. I have my own life style, I enjoy independence and freedom. And I keep creating.
WU: Does it mean that your style of painting has been affected by the United States?
Marchuk: No doubt it has been affected. Firstly, I began using new media, new materials, and this in itself is conducive to starting a search for new creative possibilities. Secondly, there were a lot of new impressions from what Iíd seen and experienced. My ďdabbing-onĒ style I began developing in Sydney, continued in Toronto and completed in New York.
WU: What do you think we, human beings, live for?
: Too difficult to answer a question like that. I know what an artist lives for. An artist has a special mission on this earth. Heís no right to live for the sake of just living. An artist is a beacon lighting the way and showing the direction. An artist is called upon to fill people with purity and beauty. Ivan Marchuk the painter and Ivan Marchuk the human being are two different creatures and Ivan Marchuk the human being has been sacrificed to Ivan Marchuk the painter. Iíve not married in order to devote myself entirely to my art. Iíve carved a niche for myself where no one can bother me and nothing can distract me from my work. Thatís how I live in New York.
WU: If you were offered to paint a picture which should be a sort of a message to all the people on Earth, what would it be like?
Marchuk: Well, it should be a picture done in light shades, permeated with a spirit of purification that might help people get closer to the divine. Iíve always had an ambition to create a sort of a pantheon to which all kinds of criminals, washouts could come to get a spiritual uplift, and become purified.
WU: If you had a chance of talking to the most important figures of our time, what would you tell them?
Marchuk: Frankly, I donít care to talk to any "figures." I like reading books, looking at paintings. I love talking to charming women even if Iíve never met them before.
: And whatís your ideal of a woman?
: Every woman is an ideal. But I personally like socializing with clever women.

AbandonedNest. Tempera on canvas, 40 x50 cm

A Girl with a Candle. Acrylic on canvas, 101 x76 cm.

Silence of a Summer Night. Acrylic on canvas, 76 x76 cm.

Moon Waking Up. Acrylic on canvas, 76 x71 cm.

If a woman is beautiful like a doll with very few brains, even if sheís a Miss Universe, I will not find her interesting enough to talk to. My idealÖmy ideal is a woman whom Iíd wish to paint now, tomorrow, ten years from now, fifty years from now, always.
Sheíll always be an enigma, a mystery, a beauty.
WU: Is there a thing called ďlove eternalĒ in your opinion?
: Yes, there is, but itís not love for a particular person until the grave, itís love of all that exists in this world, itís love without which the whole Universe would perish. Love for a woman is just a reflection of this universal divine love.
WU: What was your most cherished dream when you were a child?
Marchuk: After all these philosophical musings of mine youíll probably be disappointed to hear that it was to have enough strength and agility to climb the tallest tree and steal eggs from a crowís nest! (Marchuk gives a laugh). Yes, thatís the way I was, quite empty-headed, but the moment I became a student of an art school I gave myself fully to becoming a painter.
WU: Well, youíve become one, youíve fulfilled your ambition. Any dreams now?
Marchuk: My sole ambition now is to keep painting pictures. And I also want very much to go to the Crimea, to take a swim in the Black Sea.
WU: Youíve seen a lot of this world, youíve had exhibitions in many places, your pictures can be found in many private collections and museums of three continents. Is there a place on this globe where youíd like to stay forever?
Marchuk: There surely is. Ukraine.
WU: Is there anything that you would like to ask yourself?
Marchuk: Yes, there is: Ivan, how many more pictures do you want to paint?
WU: So, whatís the answer?
Marchuk: As many as Iíll have time to.