Ukrainian Wood Carving
Folk carving is an ancient form of art. Its relics have been known in the Ukraine mainly since the XVI — XVII centuries. Interesting accounts of those times tell about the abundarit carving on wooden buildings. Aspiring to the beautiful, the people made use of carving not only in architecture, but copiously decorated household objects and working tools with carved ornaments. Carpenters and wood-carvers created genuine masterpieces distinguished by originality of artistic forms.
Many carved pieces of furniture, wooden dishes, blocks for printing patterns on cloth, moulds for gingerbread, parts of carriages, sleighs and yokes of the XVII — XIX centuries, widespread in Kiev, Chernigiv, Poltava, Forecarpathian and Transcarpathian regions, have been alloted a place in the exposition of the pre-Soviet art of carving.
The collection of powder horns ornamented with fine patterns exhibited in this section bears witness to the high level of the art of bone-carving in the Ukraine during the XVII — XVIII centuries.
Yuri Shkriblyak was famous as a wood-carving artist not only in the Hutsul country, but far beyond its borders as well.
In our times the art of folk carving has undergone great changes. The folk artists execute, along with the traditional ornamental carving, thematic works dedicated to prominent events in the life of the Soviet people and themes from their historical past, to outstanding Soviet statesmen and heroes of the works of great writers. The aspiration to the creation of thematic compositions has furthered the development of the bas-relief genre carving and round sculpture. Topical compositions are frequently combined with ornamental flat carving and incrustation.
The carved works of Vasil Harbuz are a continuation of the wonderful traditions of the flat Poltava carving. In his miniature works-ash-travs, bird-shaped pencil-cases, etc., we encounter the ultimate laconicism of form typical of folk carving.
Great ideological significance and artistic expressiveness are found in the bas-reliefs “Hero of Socialist Labour Katerina Solomakha” and “Woman Pig-tender” by carver Yakov Usik (1872 — 1960) of Mirhorod Region.
The numerous works of the Kiev Region carver Petro Verna (1876— 1966) are greatly varied in their themes: “I Had Turned Thirteen”, “Pere-bendya”, “Koval (Smith) Vakula”, “Aeneid”, “The Sower”, “We Shall Line the Roads with Trees”. This artist has created carvings depicting various personages from the classical works of Ukrainian and Russian literature. Petro Verna has devoted almost all his life to portraying the Great Bard, T. G. Shevchenko and the characters of his poetical works. His other sculptures, imbued with the lofty pathos of the present day, depict the creative life of people of the socialist society.
The life of the plain people of Transcarpathian Region is depicted in the works of folk sculptor Vasil Svyda. The Museum collection contains his best-known works — “Hutsul Man and Woman”, “I’m Joining the Partisans”, “A Mother’s Kiss”, “To the Mountain Meadow”. In his work “To the Mountain Meadow” the sculptor depicts the traditional Hutsul ascent up the mountains in spring, driving their cattle to the summer pastures. It is a day of great spring festival in which Svyda took part more than once. His knowledge of life helped the carver to recreate, truthfully and thrillingly, the image of the new men of the Transcarpathia: free, proud and full of inner dignity.
A special section of the Museum’s exposition is devoted to the work of Hutsul carvers. Here we find extremely diversified articles made of wood: boxes, writing sets, decorative plates, bowls. They are ornamented with flat carving and incrustation of coloured wood, pearl, metal, beads, etc. These articles are produced by the experienced carvers Mykola Tymkov, Ivan Balahurak, Yurko and Semyon Korpanyuk, Dmvtro and Vladimir Havrysh, Vasyl Kabin and others.
The artistic progress of the present-day Hutsul carvers, former handicraftsmen, was furthered by their uniting in creative collective bodies.
Profundity of meaning, psychological treatment, generalization and the ability to emphasize the most significant features characterize the works of a group of Lemkiv carvers: Andriy and Stepan Orysyk, Ivan Odrikhivsky, Andriy Sukhorskv, Anton Figel, the Kishchak brothers, Miron and Yury Ambitsky, now living and working in Lviv. Their small thematic sculptures recreate the life of the plain people of the Land of the Soviets. Among the Lemkiv carvers there are many who depict animals and show profound knowledge in the recreation of images of the animal kingdom.
Wealth of imagination and poetic feeling distinguish the works of the carver Stepan Chaika from the village Bratka, Lviv Region — “Life in the Woods”, “Duck Family”, “Deer” and others. The models of his creations are found by the carver in the very life of the woods, his medium being fantastically shaped tree roots, twigs, etc.
An interesting medium — poplar bark — is used by the Lviv Carver Mikhailo Tkachov. His miniatures — roosters, deer, horses — are executed in the spirit of folk sculpture traditions.
The works of the carvers displayed in the exposition of the Museum furnish convincing proof of the great achievements of Ukrainian artists in the field of this beautiful genre of folk art, of its further development in our times.
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