Archive for March 3rd, 2022

Maria Prymachenko

Maria Prymachenko- A Dove Has Spread Her Wings and Asks for Peace

Maria Prymachenko- A Dove Has Spread Her Wings and Asks for Peace

“I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian.”

Pablo Picasso, after attending a Prymachenko exhibit in Paris

In the opening days of the current unjustified and unprovoked Russian invasion on Ukraine, in a city about 50 miles northwest of Kviv, the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum was burned by Russian forces. Destroyed in the blaze were about 25 paintings by the celebrated late Ukrainian folk artist, Mara Prymachenko.

Maria Prymachenko, considered a national treasure for the Ukraine people, died in 1997 at the age of 88. She lived through some of the most dire times of the last century, surviving childhood polio, World War II and the inter-Soviet attacks on the Ukrainian people from Joseph Stalin.

Though she was disabled and unable to stand as a result of childhood polio, her talent for design and her personal interpretations for traditional symbols in her paintings and embroidery was recognized in her 20’s. She worked as part of the Central Experimental Workshop of the Kyiv Museum of Ukrainian Art which brought together folk artists from the whole of Ukraine in order to create folk art that would showcase the folk art traditions of Ukraine for large international exnhibitions. Her work was displayed in exhibits in Kviv, Moscow and Leningrad as well as the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris.

It was about this time that she had surgery that enabled her to stand and married a fellow Ukrainian who was Red Army officer. The two had a child in 1941, who later went on to also become an artist.

Then life interceded. She struggled through WW II, losing her brother and husband to it. After the war, she was worked to exhaustion on a collective and lived in poverty. She had little time nor strength to create her art. But slowly, her creative flame was reignited.

Over the next several decades she created work and a legacy that saw her rise to the level of national treasure for the people of Ukraine. She received the highest awards and honors of the nation, had street in Kviv and a minor planet named after her, and UNESCO, in 2009, declared it the Year of Prymachenko.

While her work has a decorative element, strong and colorful in the naive tradition, it has its own personal feel. It is both optimistic and weary, coming from a person who imbues their work with all they have seen and experienced, both good and bad.

Her later work often was paired with phrases and proverbs that were written on the reverse of the paintings. I liked that.

But now 25 of her pieces have been destroyed in the effort to erase the people of Ukraine, both culturally and physically.

There are more than 650 of her remaining paintings in a museum in the besieged city of Kviv. If her life and work is symbolic of that nation, those paintings and the nation will most certainly endure.

Here are but a few of her works. The painting at the top of the page and the first one below seem to fit the moment.

Maria Prymachenko- A Dragon Descends on Ukraine, 1987

Maria Prymachenko- A Dragon Descends on Ukraine, 1987

Maria Prymachenko- Beast -1936

Maria Prymachenko- Beast,1936

Maria Prymachenko rat-on-a-journey-1963

Maria Prymachenko- Rat on a Journey, 1963

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