petrykivka: 2 posts

Petrykivka and Gogol : Colors and Scents

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.

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Petrykivka : Ukraine’s Vibrant Treasure

A petrykivka artist’s most important tools are her hands and her cat. To paint the intricate, colorful motifs of this traditional form of Ukrainian folk art, it’s essential to combine bold strokes with delicate ones. The tip of one’s finger might be used to create a cluster of round berries, a mass of dahlia petals or a tangle of oak leaves. But for the fine tendrils and feathers adorning roosters and cuckoo birds, classical symbols with complex meaning, a painter turns to a brush made of cat hair. “The cat first has to agree to give you some fur,” says Natalia Rybak, the artist at the Petrykivka Center for Folk Art, as she shows me the local art collection. “Not all do.”

petrykivka

Petrykivsky painting or “petrykivka” is one of many forms of ancient Ukrainian decorative arts. Its name is derived from the place of its origin, the village of Petrykivka in Dnipropetrovsk region, and it is closely tied to the Cossack tradition. Cossacks were members of the democratic communities that since the 15th century started forming into a loose federation in southern-central Ukraine. Independent from the neighboring states, the Cossack federation offered social freedoms and protection, thus drawing an ever increasing number of people from other regions to its villages. South-east of Kyiv, Petrykivka was established in the 17th century as the wintering ground for the Cossack divisions that spent the rest of the year in the areas around the lower Dnieper River. Even after the Cossackdom was destroyed by the Russian tsars in the 18th century, many former strongholds, such as Petrykivka, retained enough autonomy to develop their traditional crafts.

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