The Union of Ukrainian Artists of America is amazing! The exhibition of our group in Manhattan was recently on display at the Tenri Institute of Japanese Culture at 43 West 13th Street.
Although it is believed that America is a melting pot of culture where all immigrants become assimilated as Americans, in reality this is not always everyone’s intension. Nationalistic roots remain and this is the truth and beauty of a new life in America. To understand America, you just need to take a Brooklyn city bus and travel the entire route from the first stop to the last. In the South you go through the Russian-speaking community, then the Polish, Italian, Jewish, Indian, Uzbek, African American, Chinese, Korean, and finally the Hasidim. The bus is constantly filling up with a diversity to be celebrated!
And the nationalist embodiment of each of us can become a celebration and enrichment of American culture. It is this virtue of our country we saw at the Contemporary Art Exhibition, “By virtue or despite of…” near New York Union Square.
At the exhibition, artists from America, Canada, and Slovenia who grew up in Ukraine, as well as those who live and work in Ukraine, demonstrated their works. The idea of the exhibition “Thanks and in spite of…” was not only to exhibit works created by artists during the period of the pandemic, but also to see the unity, mutual understanding, and interpenetration of Ukrainian and American cultures. The organizers of the exhibition – International Art Alliance and Ukrainian Artists of America (UAA), brought together contemporary artists from the States and Ukraine. Thankfully, this is only the beginning. Ukrainian artists will be represented like never before and these art exhibits will continue throughout the year.
We had the pleasure of conversing with a very interesting artist from New Jersey, Elena Lejeune, about the influence of America on creative people. Of course, over the years, the emigrant artist begins to paint differently, because of the surrounding environmental influences. New plots, colors, and light while at the same time, the view of the world remains the same as in your youth. There is no escaping this reality! You see life in a new country through the magic crystal of your youth and, in our case, our Ukrainian past with its real memories and myths. This is your “self”, wherever you are!
Elena brought a “book” to the exhibition, where her works are like pages, without frames, they can be leafed through and viewed, and if you fell in love with one of them, then you can purchase them.
Whose works did we see at the exhibition? Famous and emerging artists from the USA, Canada, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The themes are free, the styles are original and completely different, but the spirit, I would say, is recognizable – Ukrainian.
The famous Jewish-Ukrainian artist Mikhail Turovsky – a legend of our community, an academic, a 2008 People’s Artist of Ukraine, exhibited his latest works painted this summer in 2021. Turovsky has lived in the United States for more than 40 years. The epidemic drove us into shelters, but our creativity did not stop! The 89-year-old artist’s paintings are still lyrical, intelligent and poignant. I remember the autumn landscape – weightless, light, optimistic – beauty reigns in the world, despite all our tears and troubles.
Mikhail Zhuravel, a Ukrainian artist from Kiev, was preparing his new series of works for this exhibition, but problems with transportation postponed the meeting of the American public with these works until Spring 2022. But two paintings, already belonging to the classical heritage of Zhuravel, created by him in 2006, were provided for the exhibition by the Ukrainian Institute of America.
The audience converged upon the exquisite works of Armine Bozhko, adjacent to Turovsky’s works. Americans fell in love with this famous artist several years ago after she relocated to New York, where she currently resides. Her work attracted the interest of art galleries in New York and across America, where they are successfully exhibited and sold.
The young artist Miroslav Dzunkevich came to America from Ukraine a little over two years ago, but he quickly fit into his new home and the American society warmly accepted his work.
Ola Rondiak, an American artist who was born in New York, but feels like a Ukrainian, presented an installation at the exhibition in her unique, at the same time national and avant-garde style. She was faithful to her theme – the comprehension of national identity passed through her modern perception of the world.
I do not presume to tell about all the artists represented at this exhibition, but I can say that each of them was successful and found their fans. The audience stopped at the miniature works of Oksana Movchan and at the bright and dramatic diptych of Tatiana Rusetskaya.
Unexpected and wonderful was the creative reincarnation of jewelry designer Kira Koktysh, whose work we have repeatedly seen at other International Art Alliance exhibitions. A charming new graphic artist has appeared before us! Her sunflowers were so fresh and full of sunshine, as if they were plucked from a Ukrainian field yesterday.
The exhibition was a success, which is especially important now, when reports from the front of Covid keep coming and going. But life must go on! You need to have the courage to remember this. I heard how the guests congratulated and thanked Tatiana Borodina, editor-in-chief of Elegant New York magazine, initiator, and organizer of this artistic action. She already has experience in such events as the President of the International Art Alliance, which she has been since 2016. I have been to exhibitions arranged by her, but this one was special – there were probably no visitors in masks at the opening day in the history of art!
As a result, in Manhattan we have such an unexpected island of Ukrainian spirit. And it was amazing to arrive and be with friends whom you understand and who understand you. You have common roots, you have common interests, and, of course, a mutual love for art and Ukraine.
The exhibition lasted from November 16th to the 22nd, and surely many managed to visit this wonderful place in New York and get to Ukraine in the American way.