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Family of Treasures

Transcarpathian school of art - it wasn't for nothing that it was famous not just throughout the former USSR but all over the world - had always kept its face: original, reserved, noble, and always incorruptible. Neither hurricanes of Soviet regime nor novations of implanted modernism could cripple it. And we don't know which of these temptations was more guileful:

Unique combination of traditions and search, nature and culture helped this phenomenon appear in the small region of Eastern Europe. People living here have something, and most importantly, somebody to be proud of: sky and mountain valleys, churches and castles, letter carriers and rebels (Kosuth and Petofi, fine Hungarian lads, stayed here), writers and artists. Fedor Manailo, Adalbert Erdely, Jozsef Bokshai are among them. Masters whose lessons left significant mark on works of the next artistic generations, and the living witness of which is the collection of artistic treasures which if offered to your attention.

Many of them are already history and art classics, such as, for example, landscapes of Ernest Kontratovich; hand of the 81-year-old author confidently puts one stroke on the canvas after another, just like in times of his youth marked with "Consecration of Water"; today, he blesses everything around him with his art. Or - somewhat more expressive in style - lakes and valleys seen by attentive eye of Vasiliy Gabda. He, by the way, is the disciple of all three above mentioned - not in vain! - artists (although today we can also discern the echoes of Hekkel and Vlaminck). "Old Guard" is alive and kicking.

And here is Pavel Bedzir - apprentice of Kontratovich him self. With his "Trees" which form visual notes of "Forest Symphony", this artist cleverly disproves "tourist myth" of his native land by plunging into odd, gloomy, gray thickets, like those in Frost, kindred to depths of human spirit. At the same time, Gabriel Buleca, also indifferent to recognizable noble motives, tries to reach fragile harmony in every individual work. Thus, each his painting looks like flickering mosaic of spots. And - the news for Transcarpathian school - his works feature people in full height whom he usually uses in landscape as staffage.

It's not the only exception, though: "Wedding is Coming Down from the Mountain" on us with noise and music of violinist seen by Taras Danilich. Paying tribute to color and decorative effects on which he is simply provoked by forms of folk ceremony, artist at the same time retains coolness which he has enough of to share with viewer enchanted with artist's skills, Another step or even half-step, and he could've been included into cohort of hyper-realists (whose experience was probably taken into consideration by Nadezhda Ponomarenko, author of "Poplar Avenue"). But the artist doesn't do it, remaining himself.

Embellishment of the collection is five canvases of Yuri Hertz, "the golden mean" between established artistic tradition and bold, just like it should've been in this case, experiment. The author paints his land lushly and with inspiration, conveying his delight before it to us. Moreover, artist's brush creates unexpected "effect of presence" thanks to which we find ourselves in the midst of peasant festival, - or everyday life which is not much different from holiday. With special attention he reproduces the forms of local wooden churches-pagodas which Transcarpathia is famous for.

However, the same reality causes so different views aimed at it. Architecture of beautiful and mysterious land appears in haze of mystical sight ("Goryan Rotunda" by Dolgosh), in focus of nostalgic delight ("Church" by Maria Mitrik), in "sheer fever of everyday life" ("Lower Gates" by Semen Malchitsky). It is worth noting that in the last case the viewer will finally see the landscape of Transcarpathian town - usually, local artists prefer wilderness or village lost in mountains (two works of V. Berdar are named just like that: "village"). But even here, a rocky slope is imperiously towering over the shapes of buildings, the newest and the most ancient alike.

In order not make the viewer / reader come to wrong conclusion that all that Transcarpathian artists can paint is the nature (although such skill worth everything else), here it comes: still life, in all its forms, in variety of attributes. Ivan Brovdi artistically declares his love to books with candle-candelabrum, Maria Mitrik - to old clay pots with flowers and herbage, Laszlo Gajda - to lancet lupine towers, Î. Skakandiy - to fruits of earth among the other things, from split in half pumpkin to the handful of derisive mushrooms. The umpteenth time we see for ourselves that in this genre, the "nature" is also three times alive.

Nevertheless, the most important in these paintings remains the landscape, and variation of it are also countless. The artist pensively wanders along the "Edge of Forest" enjoying the ground crimson with fallen leaves (Oleg Goral). With full chest breathes biting winter air "Near the Well" (Taras Danilich). Quietly enjoys "Early Snow" (Ivan Ilko, another famous patriarch of "Transcarpathian school"). Sings "Autumn Nocturne" (Vladimir Pavlishin). Narrowing her eyes, guesses: "Spring is Coming" (Natalia Sima). Transcarpathian artist is spontaneous and, therefore, very sincere painter - otherwise, it wouldn't have been said so simply and beautifully: "The Sun is Shining Over the Mountains" (Î. Burlin).

Only mountains can be better than mountains, they say in Ukraine. (I've been there myself and saw it with my own eyes). So what kind of painters are those living among such mountains? And what kind of paintings should be those painted by such artists?!

We've listed just a few of them:
Look - and you'll understand;
contemplate - and you'll find.
Family of artistic treasures is at your service.
Oleg Sidor-Gibelinda.