Following on from my post for International Women’s Day, 8 Amazing Ukrainian Poets, I am back with the next in this mini series, which aims to demonstrate Ukraine’s sovereignty by celebrating it’s female artists, poets, performers and others involved in the arts.
This article will focus on 8 incredible female Ukrainian artists. Just like the poets, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it is diverse, celebratory and informative.
If you have a favourite, drop it in the comments, or if you have any suggestions for other artists, pop them in the comments too, and I might make another post. I always love to hear from you. Thanks!
The 7 artists celebrated in this article are:
A Dove Has Spread her Wings and Asked for Peace – 1982
Russian forces almost destroyed this Ukrainian artist’s work. Now it’s becoming a global symbol of peace – click here for more on this
Maria Oksentiyivna Prymachenko, born in 1908, was a Ukrainian folk art painter. A self-taught artist, she worked with native painting, embroidery and ceramics.
In 1966, Prymachenko was awarded the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine. A street in Kyiv and a minor planet are both named after her. Although best known in Ukraine, her work has been shown all over Europe and after visiting a Prymachenko exhibition in Paris, Pablo Picasso reportedly once said, “I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian”.
May I Give This Ukrainian Bread to All People in This Big Wide World – 1982
Prymechenko’s art shows repeated motifs, such as flowers and birds, along with bold and bright colours and often Ukranian people in native dress. Rich with imaginative and natural detail, Primechenko’s work depicts the Ukrainian countryside, whilst often advocating for peace.
Her work is reminiscent of aboriginal art, suggesting a strong tie to her own culture and country. The paintings are hopeful, bountiful and celebratory.
It was really hard to choose just two paintings to show here, if you want to see more of Prymachenko’s bright and vibrant work, check out WikiArt for a whole gallery.
Eugenia Gapchinska is the self proclaimed “bringer of happiness”. Born in 1974 in Kharkiv, Ukraine, she started her art career at an early age, joining Kharkiv Art College when she was just 13 years old. That youthfulness seems to have stayed with her during her successful career, and her artworks are now famous for their joyful innocence.
Gapchinska now has galleries throughout Ukraine, including in Kiev, Kharkiv and Lviv and her art and merchandise are sold all over the world.
You are My Space
Gapchinska’s works are full of happiness and whimsy; often depicting children and cherubs in imaginary worlds, fairytales and in nature. The style of the paintings themselves exude a youthful cartoon like charm, whilst showing a sophisticated use of artistic technique and style.
Many of the characters in the art are in Ukrainian dress and a sense of the Ukrainian rural landscape often shines through, along with a sense of hope so certain, you cannot help but smile at the paintings…
You can take a virtual tour around the Gapchinska Gallery here.
Born in 1986, Alena Kuznetsova is a professional artist working and living in Kyiv, Ukraine. She works with printmaking, painting, graphics, photography and video installation, as well as teaching painting and colour study.
“[Kuznetsova] creates abstract works centering on the theme of space that seek a sense of instability and weightlessness. Interestingly, her work is rather sober, similar to laboratory work or scientific research. Alena Kuznetsova thoroughly explores painting and color as an independent entity through a combination of multiple techniques.” – The Culture Trip
“As an artist in a developing country, I step the rule “If you have a cross to bear I guess it’s fair to use it as a crutch”. I use art to curate my consciousness within the global processes and research the truth, making it somehow magical and inspiring.” – Kuznetsova in Saatchi Art
Kuznetosova’s work is contemplative and diaristic; seeming to communicate snippets of thoughts and moments, rather than dictating any kind of narrative to its audience. The colour, texture and shapes are often dreamy and poetic, gentle but provoking, giving more questions than answers.
Night and Day
Olha Pilyuhina, born in 1982 int he Poltava region, is a professional textile artist from a family of famous artists and artisans. She graduated from Reshetylivske Vocational School of Art with a specialisation in hand embroidery in 1999, and soon after began participating in Ukrainian art exhibitions. Since then, as well as exhibiting in more than 400 exhibitions, she has worked teacher in Poltava Children’s School of Art and has received three certificates of appreciation from the Minister of Culture of Ukraine for her work.
Pilyuhina creates tapestries using traditional smooth hand-weaving. An advocate for native and historical crafts, she also works with artistic paper cutting, textile collage, batik, ceramics and sculpture.
Freedom – 2021
“Olha is proud to continue the rich Ukrainian tapestry canon, interpreting it for the current times and influencing new generations of artisans.” – HomoFaber
Pilyuhina’s work is often grounded in Ukrainian landscape and nature with an artistic focus on intricate colours and patterns. frequently features motifs of prominent, upright flowers that take up almost the entire tapestry, or graceful birds looking high up into the sky. The subjects always appear positive and strong and the overall works are peaceful, calm, and full of hope and celebration.
Night and Day
Yana Movchan was born in Kiev, Ukrainian in 1971, and she trained at the Ukrainian Art Academy. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Ukraine, Prague, London and Canada. She is now based in Halifax, Canada, where she lives with her husband and two young sons.
“Yana Movchan’s sublime mastery of the technique and structure of Renaissance painting combines with the instinctive symbolism of “magical realism” to create a personal neo-realist idiom. Her work is formal, yet playful; contemporary, yet timeless; and joyous, yet mysterious, evocative and dreamlike….” – Lily Pad Gallery
Victory of Light Over Darkness
I see whispers of Frida Kahlo and Henri Rousseau in Movchan’s work with bold symbolism, deep connections to nature, and deliberate and delicate attention to detail. Her portraits of women, in particular, capture the audience’s gaze with their own and show the complexities surrounding women’s identity. Yana describes the women in her portraits as champions of peace and freedom.
I found it really difficult to pick just two pictures! View more of Yana Movchan’s work here.
Born in 1900, Kateryna Bilokur was a Ukrainian folk artist from the village of Bagdanivka. She began drawing at an early age, but her parents didn’t deem it a worthwhile hobby and banned her from doing it. However, Kateryna persisted and drew in secret on rags. With parents that restricted her activities, including her schooling, her troubled childhood led into her adult life; plagued by rejections she attempted suicide in 1934, but fortunately survived.
During the 1940s Bilokur began to find success wit her art with solo exhibitions and awards and in 1956 received the Ukrainian People’s Artist of the Year award.
Flowers by the Fence
Bilokur’s work, which focuses largely on Ukrainian nature and flowers, is considered to be a highly significant landmark in Ukrainian folk art. Although the work clearly draws on 19th century realism, which you can see in the detail and accurate depictions of the flowers, the work also embodies a fantastical element with the use of abundance in the style and composition and the daydream quality evoked in the equisite colour and light.
The paintings draw the viewer in, asking you to look more closely and to get lost in the imaginary gardens and nighttime worlds Biolkur created.
Ukrainian Madonnna with Roses
Olesya Hudyma was born in Ternopil, Ukraine in 1980. In 2003 she graduated with a degree in journalism from the Lviv University and then worked as a journalist but In 2007 she quit to become a full-time painter.
Hudyma’s work are in private collections around the world and in 2018 the Ukrainian Postal Service issued a stamp with Hudyma’s painting Bride.
Drawing on expressionism, symbolism and contemporary post modernism, Olesya‘s artworks are “characterised by the emotionally evocative style with the effective canvas texture that leads to the fusion of the opulent colour palette and enrichment. All the paintings are imbued with emotions and special images outlined by quick brushstrokes.” – Olesya Hudyma
Whether painting flowers or madonnas, Hudyma’s work is visceral, expressive and vibrant in colour and texture. Working on a reasonably large scale, I feel the internet probably does not do justice to the pieces physical sensibilities. Olesya cites Bilokur as one of her inspirations and you can certainly see the influence present in the bold colour work and fantastical elements.
Angel for the Peace of Ukraine
Olesya Hudyman is currently selling digital prints of this piece, Angel for the Peace of Ukraine. She says this is how you can support her in this time of war.
Yana Movchan is donating work to an exhibition run by the Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts to raise money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
Saatchi Art are donating 100% of sales of Ukrainian artist’s work.
- Maria Prymachenko – A Symbol of Peace – CNN
- Maria Prymachenko- Wikipedia
- Women in Ukrainian Art – The Wilson Centre
- 10 Contemporary Ukrainian Artists – Culture Trip
- Eugenia Gapchinska – People Pill
- Alena Kuznetsova – Saatchi Art
- Alena Kuznetsova – Nvair
- Olha Pilyuhina
- Discover Olha Pilyuhina – Homo Faber
- Yana Movchan – Lily Pad Gallery
- Yana Movchan
- Kateryna Bilokur – Outlook
- Kateryna Bilokur – Wikipedia
- Kateryna Bilokur – WikiArt – 54 Paintings
- Kateryna Bilokur – Ukrainian Art Library
- Olesya Hudyma
- Olesya Hudyma – Wikipedia