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ACUA focusses on past and present Ukrainian artists

Nov 25, 2021 | Featured

NP – UN Western Bureau.

The Alberta Council of the Ukrainian Arts (ACUA) along with the Ukrainian Professional Business Association (UCPBA Edmonton) on November 12 officially opened “Past and Present”, an exhibition featuring classic and contemporary works by Ukrainian artists.

The exhibition included the collection of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional Business Association of Edmonton, gathered from the 1960’s to the 1990’s which includes works by William Kurelek, Peter Shostak, Jacques Hnizdovsky, Edvard Kozak, Myron Levytsky, Ludmilla Temertey, Bohdan Bozhemsky, Rem Bahautyn, Halyna Harkavenko, Valerian Panfilov, Roman Wasylyszyn, Heorhij Yakutovych and Olha Monastyrska. Contemporary local artists displaying their works were: Iryna Karpenko, Oksana Movchan, Sophia Podryhula Shaw, Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn, Valeriy Semenko, David Shkolny, Thea Yarovenko Szewczuk and Oksana Zhelisko.

“Our Artists from the 60’s to 90’s need to be remembered, commemorated and enjoyed by the public in general. ACUA is working with UCPBA to find a public spot for viewing, such as the Edmonton Art Gallery or the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. We are only in the preliminary stage for this, but our desire is to ensure our Ukrainian Artists be elevated for all to see,” said ACUA Director Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz.

UCPBA Edmonton Past President Ihor Kruk explained that the club from its inception always placed a high value on maintaining Ukrainian culture and learning, with a particular emphasis on the Ukrainian Canadian dimension.

To this end, at the AGM held on January 15, 1962, the club set up a separate art committee to facilitate the exhibition of artwork by Oleksandr Archipenko. The second exhibition, the works of Hnizdovsky, took place from February 12-21, 1967, with “no less success than the exhibition of Archipenko”. October 1970 saw the third art exhibition of works by Wasyl/William Kurelek. It was perhaps the most popular. The exhibition lasted until October 26. On this occasion the artist gifted to the club his work “Bringing in the Harvest“.

Quoting Art Critic Bohdan Stebelsky, Kruk noted that: “Kurelek’s importance for Ukrainian art lies in the fact that he shows the Ukrainian in Canada, the Ukrainian who created Canada and stayed to live here, to develop himself here. We cannot talk about Ukrainians in Canada without mentioning Kurelek, just as we cannot talk about Canadian art without mentioning Kurelek. Kurelek’s works reflect the abuses suffered, the discrimination In foreign surroundings, the wrongs done to immigrants until they come of age and become masters in their own lands where they cleared by their own hands the forests, irrigated the land with their own sweat until eventually they learned the language which, at first, they did not understand.“

Myron Levytsky’s son, Marco, noted that his father was born in Lviv in 1913 and studied under the renowned Oleksa Novakivsky. With his first wife, Maria, he fled Ukraine during World War II and settled in Innsbruck, Austria before emigrating to Canada in 1949 – first Winnipeg, then Toronto. Initially painting in an impressionistic manner, Myron Levytsky began developing his own unique style during a sojourn in Paris from 1956 to 1958 and perfected it in the early 60s. Levytsky’s canvases are characterized by their rich colour harmonies, flowing linearity, and stylized, abstracted forms. He painted several Ukrainian churches in Australia and Canada, including Holy Eucharist in Toronto. Myron Levytsky passed away in 1993.

Edvard Kozak (1902–1992) was another graduate of the Novakivsky School and was noted for his caricatures of Ukrainian folk life. A painter, caricaturist, illustrator, film animator, graphic artist, and writer, he worked for several humor magazines In Ukraine before emigrating to the United States in 1951, where he founded and ran the satirical-humor magazine Lys Mykyta.

Jacques Hnizdovsky (1915-1985) was best known for his intricate woodcuts. Starting with a style close to Albert Dürer’s, he absorbed elements of old Ukrainian baroque engravings, Chinese and Japanese woodcuts, and various modern tendencies, and molded them into a personal style that brought him international recognition.

Ludmilla Temertey (b. 1944) is a sculptor, graphic designer and artist who lives in Montalcino, Italy. Her best-known work is the monument to the victims of the Holodomor on the grounds of Edmonton’s City Hall. She is also the sister of Toronto-based philanthropist James Temerty (they spell their surnames differently).

Peter Shostak (b. 1944) is noted for his depictions of Ukrainian pioneer life in Alberta. (For more about Shostak see New Pathway – Ukrainian News, issue #40 of Nov. 11)

Luciw-Andryjowycz briefly spoke about the contemporary local artists whose work was exhibited.

Iryna Karpenko was born in Kyiv and has worked as an illustrator and book designer for different publishing houses and children’s magazines in Ukraine. Her artwork is based on impressions from a mixture of different stories, songs and legends which surround our real and imagined, natural and cultural, historic and prehistoric lives. Some of her subjects derive from Ukrainian mythology and ancient fairy tales.

Also born in Kyiv, Oksana Movchan studied at the prestigious Ukrainian Academy of Art and has a Doctorate from the Department of Printmaking. Elegant and honest, her art represents a powerful but fragile style. Oksana has had many solo exhibitions including international exhibitions in Kyiv, Houston and Hong-Kong. During the past five years Oksana began creating art on glass including functional art in the form of custom glass sinks.

Born in Lutsk, Ukraine and raised in Sydney, Australia, Sophia Podryhula Shaw settled in Edmonton in 1976. She is a landscape artist, who first studied to become a nurse. While pursuing a career in nursing she attended the Sydney Technical College in Australia to study Composition and Design. Other art related studies were conducted at the Edmonton Art Gallery, Grant MacEwan Community College and at the Alberta Culture Art Series in Red Deer.

Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn was born in Edmonton and having graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art & Design from the University of Alberta, has become an accomplished Canadian artist. As a painter, Larisa’s preferred medium is water colour. The bold and colourful work she produces demonstrates a unique artistic style that has enabled her to enjoy a busy professional life. She dedicates herself to creating commissioned works as well as producing theme-based collections. Major travelling collections include: Flowers of the Americas (1996), Flowers of the Bible (2000) and Celebrating Women (2005).

Valeriy Semenko was born in Bukovyna and began his art education from the School of Fine Art in his hometown of Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Years later he graduated from Ivan Fedorov Academy of Publishing, Faculty of Graphic Arts. Valeriy’s artworks are in private collections worldwide. In 2008, one of his works was selected for a permanent exhibit as part of the Sir Winston Churchill Square Banners Project. Currently Valeriy is an art instructor for Barvy Art Studio in Edmonton, where he resides with his family.

David Shkolny is an Edmonton-based artist specializing in soft pastel. Born in Pinawa, Manitoba, in 1969, David has spent most of his life in Alberta. David’s art is collected internationally and is also represented in The Canada Council. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1992.

Thea Yarovenko Szewczuk is a visual artist from Edmonton who paints in acrylic and oil paint across a variety of subjects, but prefers figurative energetic works in bold, vivid, expressive colour. In 2009, Thea received her Bachelor of Education Degree in Secondary Education with a Major in Visual Art and Minor in Spanish Language.

Classically trained in Eastern Europe, Oksana Zhelisko began her career as an artist in Lviv, Ukraine. She entered the Ivan Trush College of Decorative Arts in 1996. It was in preparing her works for this show that she realized she had a love for the medium of oil. She finds that the truest hues are to be found in this medium due to its prolonged drying time and its ease in mixing. She finds it best to begin her work, not on a crisp, blank canvas, but on one that has been coloured, and or stained to allow her chosen medium to release its inner beauty and charm. Oksana currently resides in Edmonton.

The exhibition runs until November 17.

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