The colors and images of Petrykivka, one of the traditional Ukrainian arts, are vivid and joyous. Fire birds take flight among branches laden with fruit and fantasy blossoms. The artists believed that such colorful images protect people from evil spirits, and looking at the complex and happy ornaments of Petrykivka I can’t help thinking that there is something to the idea of art as talisman.
Petrykivka is considered as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and the village of Petrykivka in the Dnipropetrovsk region still boasts many artists. I wrote about my visit two years ago, and anyone can tour the art studios, take a class or simply admire the paintings. Those of you in New York, however, have a unique chance to experience this art in person as The Ukrainian Institute of America hosts the exhibit Petrykivka: A Ukrainian Folk Phenomenon and Living Tradition from April 8 to April 30. The collection presented is based on discoveries by Natalie Pawlenko and Yuri Mischenko and features 47 paintings by some of the most renowned Petrykivka artists.
The Ukrainian Institute of America is located near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it features a number of interesting exhibits and workshops. If you ever wanted to learn the art of pysanka, Ukrainian decorated eggs, there is a class offered on April 1st and April 2nd.
While we are on the topic of Ukraine, Nikolai Gogol was born on this day in 1809 in Velyki Sorochyntsi, a small town in the Poltava region. The Nose, Dead Souls, and The Overcoat are some of his most important works, and I will also add my personal favorite to this list, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.
Here is his description of fragrant Ukrainian nights from “A May Night”, one of the stories from Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.
“Fill your eyes with it. The moon shines in the midst of the sky; the immeasurable vault of heaven seems to have expanded to infinity; the earth is bathed in silver light; the air is warm, voluptuous, and redolent of innumerable sweet scents. Divine night! Magical night! Motionless, but inspired with divine breath, the forests stand, casting enormous shadows and wrapped in complete darkness.”
The Ukrainian Institute of America
2 East 79th Street New York, NY 10075
Extra Reading: Petrykivka : Ukraine’s Vibrant Treasure
Image 1: Volodymyr Hlushchenko, Roosters, 2007, Tempera on paper. From the Natalie Pawlenko and Yuri Mischenko collection. Image 2: Gogol’s estate in the town of Hoholeve near Poltava, photography by Bois de Jasmin.