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Tag: young age

Folk art stirs a feeling of ancestral intimacy. It asks us to both imagine and remember. We’re reminded of this injunction as we step into The Ukrainian Museum where more than 100 works by iconic folk art artist Maria Prymachenko are presented for the first time outside Europe. These are paintings, ceramics and clothing, in addition to other objects, that celebrate visual vibrancy and affirm a spirit of spellbinding freedom. Beyond Ukrainian culture, the exhibition interrogates the resonance of folk art today in channeling patriotism and facilitating cross-cultural dialogues.

A colorful painting of a beast with stylized folk art details and insets of other animals
‘War is a Terrible Beast’, Maria Prymachenko, 1968, Gouache on paper. On loan from the Ponamarchuk Family Private Collection

Maria Prymachenko is one of Ukraine’s most beloved artists. Born in a small village near Chornobyl in 1909 and afflicted from a young age with polio, her career spanned more than sixty years. She transitioned from embroidery to painting in the 1930s—a discipline in which she had no formal training. Prymachenko was quickly recognized for her unique style, showing at the inaugural Republican Exhibition of Folk Art in 1936 and, a year later, at the Paris World Fair, where her works were noticed by peers such as Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso.

Painted with vivid gouaches and watercolors, Prymachenko’s natural world comes to life in roaring, generous colors. Her motifs encompass a vast bestiary of existing and imaginary animals and creatures, such as lions, birds, horses, ducks, and more. Inspired by Polesian magical tales in which landscapes are multidimensional and inhabited by beings such as lisovyk, a forest spirit, or water nymphs, the artist inspires us to transcend the stale constraints of reality and imagine an inter-connected space where presence dominates. “Each painting seems to transport the viewer to a world that exists somewhere between reality and fantasy, evoking emotions of wonder,

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