Gallery Ukraine. A different angle on neighbourhood

2021-09-17, 10:00 a.m.
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Ukraine has been independent for thirty years. It is also close to us, bold, multi-faceted and surprising. Equally so is the exhibition Ukraine. A different angle on neighbourhood, organised at the International Cultural Centre. Works that say so much about our closest neighbour have never been presented to the Polish audience before. This different angle on neighbourhood, where mutual perceptions of each other come into play, brings the two countries even closer together.

A joint Polish-Ukrainian analysis of cultural and historical narratives referred to as “Ukrainian myths” encourages a reflection on contiguity of Ukraine and Poland, their history and their present in the perspective of neighbourhood and mutual understanding. They give an idea of the viability of myths and their contemporary incarnations, making it possible to trace the canon of Ukrainian identity, but also to take a closer look at today's Ukraine. The narrative also collides sporadically with Russia and the Soviet Union, occasionally with Turkey and the Islamic world. It is illustrated with works of Ukrainian and Polish art; Orthodox, Uniate and Catholic; pre-modern, 20th-century and contemporary artworks.
What prompts us to broaden our knowledge about Ukraine? Do we reach for books by Ukrainian authors, many of which have been published in Poland in recent years, to understand our closest neighbours? I believe that many of us do so, but to support this, it is important to supplement literary or historical texts with a visual story. When preparing the exhibition together with the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kiev, we wished to present to the Polish public a visual self-portrait of our neighbours and the contemporary cultural context of mutual Polish-Ukrainian relations – explains Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik, director of the ICC.

The role of the exhibition is at the same time educational and intended to promote the culture and artists of Ukraine, who are little known in Poland. The exhibition showcases the most outstanding artists, whose work is related to the main stages of the development of art, from the late 17th century to the present day. On display are the works of the Ukrainian bard Taras Shevchenko, the Polish masters such as Józef Brandt, Jan Stanisławski, Leon Wyczółkowski, and the Ukraine-born Russian realist Ilya Repin, who was fascinated with Jan Matejko’s painting. The exhibition features Repin’s paintings: Ukrainian Peasant House and Portrait of a Laughing Cossack, which is a sketch for the Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, a 1890 painting that has become a national icon in Ukraine.
  These 19th-century canvases are juxtaposed with the works of the early 20th-century avant-gardists – Heorhi Narbut, Victor Palmov, Lev Kramarenko – and contemporary artists, such as those using the language of pop-art, social art, Western advertising, and Soviet propaganda: Oleh Tistol, Roman Minin, reflective artist Vlada Ralko or the “Open Group” Association, which represented Ukraine at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

This is the first time such a representative selection of Ukrainian art has been on display in Poland. At its core are the works from the most important Ukrainian collection – the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kiev, accompanied by the works from other Ukrainian institutions: the National Reserve "Kiev-Pechersk Lavra", the Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema in Kiev and the National Museum "Kiev Art Gallery", and from Polish collections: National Museums in Krakow, Warsaw and Wroclaw, Arsenal Gallery in Białystok and the Jagiellonian Library, as well as Polish and Ukrainian private collections.

The exhibition is complemented by film materials, photographs, posters, maps, and sculptures. An intriguing accent comes with the magnetic clothes by the fashion designer Tomasz Armada, stylistically referring to the attires worn by Cossacks and Sarmatians. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive 250-page catalogue, working as a guide to the history of Ukrainian art.

The Polish-Ukrainian dialogue has been present in the activities of the ICC from the very beginning. At the conference Nations and Stereotypes, organised in 1993, the mutual (unfortunately most often negative) perceptions of Poles and Ukrainians were discussed. Both historical and contemporary issues were addressed in exhibitions organised at the ICC Gallery. Exhibitions such as The Borderlands Rediscovered. The Common Heritage of Poland and Ukraine (2005) or Lviv, 24th June 1937. City, Architecture, Modernism (2017) helped to make a wide audience aware of the importance of efforts undertaken to save the shared heritage, and the exhibition The Myth of Galicia (2014) confronted mythical ideas with historical facts. The 2016 exhibitions Maidan Through the Lens of Jakub Szymczuk visualised an extraordinary story about Maidan in Kiev, which was the greatest shock in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, while Ukraine. Waiting for a hero. Kostyrko, Ravski emphasised the interaction of art created in front of our eyes with current events in the country.

The exhibition will be open from September 17, 2021 to January 16, 2022 at the ICC Gallery at Rynek Główny 25 in Krakow.

The album dedicated to the exhibition is here.

Organised by
The International Cultural Centre, The National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kiev (NAMU)

Programme concept
Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik, Łukasz Galusek (ICC), Yulia Lytvynets (NAMU)

Authors of the exhibition concept and curators
Oksana Barszynowa (NAMU), Żanna Komar (ICC)

Consultants
Yaroslay Hrytsak, Serhii Plokhy, Mykola Ryabchuk

Curatorial cooperation
Anna Łazar

Exhibition design
Rafał Bartkowicz

Coordination
Olesia Denisiuk (NAMU), Karolina Wójcik (MCK)

In collaboration with
ICC: Joanna Biegacz, Ewa Czarnecka, Marzena Daszewska, Monika Frenkiel, Joanna Hojda-Pepaś, Oliwia Kaczmarzewska, Dorota Korohoda, Joanna Łuniewicz, Angelika Madura, Paulina Małochleb, Paulina Roszak-Niemirska, Anna Sawłowicz, Adam Skolankiewicz, Anna Śliwa
NAMU: Gałyna Belikowa, Natalia Czamlaj, Oksana Krawczuk, Darja Łysenko, Danilo Nikitin, Nadja Pawliszenko, Serij Seleznow, Iryna Szekel, Lesia Tołstowa, Hanna Wiwczar

Graphic design of catalogue and printed materials
Weird Gentlemen (Łukasz Podolak)

Funded by

  

The project is supported by the Municipality of Krakow

Sponsor

Media Partners

     

Works on display were kindly loaned by the following collections

Ukraine
National Art Museum of Ukraine (NAMU)
National Museum "Kiev Art Gallery"
National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Decorative Arts
National Reserve "Kiev-Pechersk Lavra"
Theatre, Music and Cinema Museum in Kiev
National Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II
collection of the community of the village of Krzyworównia

Poland
National Museum in Wrocław
National Museum in Krakow
National Museum in Warsaw
Leon Wyczółkowski Regional Museum in Bydgoszcz
Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów
Arsenal Gallery in Białystok
Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow
Jagiellonian Library

Russia
Russian State Library in Moscow

Austria
Diocesan Archives in Vienna

Private collections and courtesy of artists
collection of Emmerich "Quickly" Eiler (Munich)
collection of Igor Abramovich (Kiev)
Igor Voronov's collection (Kiev)



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