Sensitivity. Contemporary Ukrainian photography

Jul 16 2021 Published by under

[To view a virtual tour of the exhibition, click on the image. Use the audio guide in Ukrainian (red mark) and/or English (blue mark) languages]

Photography forces us to pay tribute to the transience. Its only constant is the sensitivity of the creator to what could be called the trembling of the world. It is this sensitivity that gives a photograph, otherwise essentially a technical image, its aesthetic and symbolic dimensions. This also preserves photography’s ability to be a medium that is extremely reflective, sensitive to changes in time, trends, technologies, and optics.

Photography’s invasion of the domain of classical fine arts provoked a revolutionary process, redrawing boundaries. The photographic medium is still the most rapidly changing due to its dependence on technological progress, deriving its unique nature from the interaction of sensitive surfaces with the light. In recent decades, much attention has been paid to the polarity between analogue and digital images, film and sensor; dark predictions about the future of photography persisted.

Nevertheless, these fatalistic prophecies have yet to come true — on the contrary, we see a kind of hybridization of traditional analogue photography with rapid digital innovations, a coexistence of aesthetics and approaches inherent in both technologies. Understanding photography has also been complicated by the ever expanding capabilities of the medium as it increasingly depends on digital technology and devices. This is apparent in the seeming infinity and immensity of contemporary photography, and its central role in the technologies of endless reproduction and multiplication. Photography dissolves so literally into mass culture, that sometimes it is difficult to recognize what in front of us is: an art object or a random snapshot.

This exhibition project represents a plurality of methods used within the photographic medium in Ukraine during the last almost three decades. This chronological framing is not random—during this period, photography has become a self-sufficient form in the system of Ukrainian contemporary art. Now, it is important to review this path in its entirety and in detail, in order to reveal the overall picture.

Despite the fact that Sensitivity. Contemporary Ukrainian photography exhibition covers a wide range of authors and phenomena, it does not employ an encyclopedic approach and its emphasis is not on chronology, but on the processes in the medium itself. This allows us to feel, and hopefully comprehend, time over a relatively short duration, using the optics of photography. And that is possible not only by immersing oneself in the context of history, which is full of events and transformations, but also by demonstrating different approaches to the photography itself, revealing the medium-specific collisions that occurred at that time.

Comments Off on Sensitivity. Contemporary Ukrainian photography

Imprint. Ukrainian printmaking of the XX – XXI centuries

Mar 15 2021 Published by under

The project was supposed to open at Mystetskyi Arsenal in March and later in June, but because of the spread of the virus (SARS-CoV-2), as well as the government-implemented measures to suspend it, the exhibition was installed and dismantled twice. During the quarantine, we prepared visitors for the exhibition —  published videos from graphic workshops about various techniques and a guide for future visitors.

On July 3, Mystetskyi Arsenal has finally opened the long-awaited exhibition Imprint. Ukrainian printmaking of the XX – XXI centuries.

During the twentieth century, Ukrainian printmaking underwent probably the most radical transformations in its history. The connection of Ukrainian graphics to European traditions can be traced back to the Renaissance and Baroque printmaking of Ukrainian ancient printed books. An enthusiastic pilgrimage of Ukrainian artists abroad in the first third of the twentieth century contributed to the enrichment of national artistic traditions and the formation of a unique style with the characteristics of modern and avant-garde. In the days of the Iron Curtain, despite all the prohibitions, in the memory of generations, the tradition of the avant-garde persevered, and the utilitarian function helped the printmaking to experience the least destructive influence of Soviet censorship. Ukraine’s independence paved the way for postmodern world intentions, and Ukrainian printmaking has found its place among global art yet again.

Printmaking has long ceased to be a purely “academic” medium. Today, printmaking can be used both as a “mono-art” and to integrate into various other media, thus demonstrating its infinite potential.

This project is about printmaking. In printmaking, drawing is the first stage of creating a work of art, next is the transfer of the picture to the cliche, its processing and printing. Each step can produce both expected and unexpected effects. In the times of high-quality image creation and reproduction technologies, the question arises of the practicality of such an analogue method of printmaking. But, first of all, it’s the hand-printing techniques that give the texture and effects, the like of which the machine is simply not capable of. Second, the artist who chooses printmaking as a way of expressing themselves has a thirst for the complex process of creation.

The project offers a look at the transformation of the printmaking at the various key points of Ukrainian art, and at the interrelations of different generations of artists, phenomena and trends from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. The exposition, however, is not linear. The works of recognized meters of Ukrainian graphics from the museum fund are displayed together with the works of famous contemporary artists. Young artists’ projects are integrated into each of the three thematic blocks, exhibiting a single complex field.

Although the exposition does not focus on “schools” or specific styles and trends, it does represent the main focal points of printmaking in Ukraine: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa, as well as the phenomena of Ukrainian printmaking over the last hundred years.

Team of the project.

Comments Off on Imprint. Ukrainian printmaking of the XX – XXI centuries

Andriy Sahaidakovsky. Scenery. Welcome!

Sep 01 2020 Published by under

Andriy Sahaidakovsky. Scenery. Welcome! is an exhibition project of Mystetskyi Arsenal, which continues the line of representation of prominent names in the recent history of Ukrainian art, which includes personal exhibitions of Oleg Holosiy, Kirill Protsenko, Oleksandr Hnylytsky. Among those already implemented, Andriy Sahaidakovsky’s project is distinguished by its experimental nature — the space of the Arsenal will be transformed into a total installation created by the artist. This will allow to fully immerse oneself in the artist’s work and to see his method in action.

Curatorial Intro to the Andriy Sahaidakovsky. Scenery. Welcome! Exhibition

Sahaidakovsky’s creative method is based on the use of familiar things in an unusual way. In his work, the artist uses anomalous sounds, pungent and specific odors, “trash” materials, gnarly inscriptions. His installations literally wrap and at the same time split the closed structure of the exhibition space, decontextualize it. Given this, the scenery as a motif of combining the real and the illusion becomes one of the through lines of the exhibition. First of all, the scenery is designed to create a visual image of the “exhibition performance” unfolding in the halls. The viewer has the opportunity to decide how to interpret the informational and semantic components of the set scenery. After all, they allow you to constantly swap the illusion and reality and thus disorient the visitor, to bring a bit of doubt into his or her perception, to turn over the conventional optics of recognizing the visible. Such scenery is like a game with exhibition halls and inside them. It is interesting to wander in space in fascinating anticipation of what will happen next, what will show up in the next halls, what else the author will offer.

About Andriy Sahaidakovsky’s works “Who are you, doctor?” and “Dancer”, which since 2019 became a part of the collection of Mystetskyi Arsenal.
Video: Oleksandr Popenko © Mystetskyi Arsenal

The exhibition traces several series of works that are subtly intertwined thematically and stylistically: the body as a fragment, anatomical studies, bodily equilibristics, cinema, children-warriors, and children’s games, sports exercises. It is no coincidence that the main theme of our exhibition is sports. But in this project it is not an illustration of the motto “faster, higher, stronger”, but rather a model of life, a reflection of the concept of homo ludens – “playing human”. The artist enjoys playing his own game, inventing mystified competitions-entertainments. He invents rules, designs scenery for his exercises and disciplines, thus creating his own sports space imaginary, which is aesthetically in tune with the theatre of the absurd.

Andriy Sahaidakovsky was born in 1957 in Lviv. In 1979, he graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of Lviv Polytechnic Institute. In 2012, Andriy Sahaidakovsky became the winner of the First Kyiv International Biennial of Contemporary Art ARSENALE AWARDS in the ARSENALE Discovery category. Lives and works in Lviv.

Comments Off on Andriy Sahaidakovsky. Scenery. Welcome!


Sep 24 2019 Published by under

He who creates neither with words nor deeds is dead while still alive.

Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit, Say It, Poet…, 1988

Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit was a Hutsul painter, folklorist, ethnographer, philosopher and photographer. She lived a solitary life in the Carpathian village Kryvorivnia and has become one of the cultural symbols of this place and the whole Hutsul region. However, the artist is still little known to the general public. Paraska created her own microcosm existing on the verge of truth and fiction, where reality intertwines with the mystical so closely that they can’t be separated. Her life was a difficult path of trials where Paraska managed to keep trust in people, embrace the philosophy of love, and learn to travel without leaving the village thanks to art.

Overcoming gravity is a process that contradicts the laws of nature and breaks existing rules. It is the search for alternative ways of being, beyond the usual circle and social stereotypes. The exhibition seeks to show Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit’s life journey, her formation as an artist, creative diversity and how she stood by her own identity under social and political pressure.

After Paraska returned from the labor camp, many locals avoided her so as not to provoke the reaction of the Soviet system. But despite the fact that life in the village dictated its own rules and norms of behavior, the artist chose the path of self-fulfillment, cognition, faith and enlightenment. She embodied her life experience in hand-made books and pictures. The knowledge she gained and the people she met in the camp formed Paraska’s perception of reality and a wide circle of contacts that went far beyond her home village. 

When studying the materials from Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit’s archive, we follow the path of trials: memories of forced labor in Germany, mentions of assistance from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and afterwards—arrest and almost a decade of imprisonment; after coming back home—adapting to the new Soviet lifestyle, searching for like-minded people and communicating with fellow villagers through photography, creating her own channel of information and inspiration, correspondence with intellectuals from different cities and acquaintances from the camp. Her everyday life was inseparable from creative work, ideas were born in the whirl of all-encompassing curiosity, under the influence of the stories she heard and the books, newspapers and letters she read. Paraska knew the value of time, that is why preserving and passing down knowledge through art was of such special importance to her.

In her art, Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit successfully combined different forms and approaches to fixating reality and the world around her, from traditional book publishing to modern media—photography and experiments with printing and design. Her works incorporate regional traditions and the latest, at the time, knowledge about space, politics and distant countries.

Since Paraska’s death, her art has started living a life of its own. The perception of her oeuvre transforms in the context of today’s changes, there are new facets to interpreting her texts and visual images, forgotten works become valuable. Owing to the modern comprehension of Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit’s figure, her artworks are now of great topicality for the present time, especially for our urbanized society.

The exhibition Overcoming Gravity at Mystetskyi Arsenal is a journey through the world of spiritual images, fairy-tale texts, ethnographic notes, fictional landscapes and documentary photographs.


Oleg Holosiy. Non-stop Painting

Jun 04 2019 Published by under

On June 13, the exhibition Oleg Holosiy. Non-stop Painting will open at the Mystetskyi Arsenal. The retrospective research project will present the work of Oleg Holosiy, a significant artist for the history of Ukrainian contemporary art. 

Over 70 paintings, 50 graphic artworks, 40 photographs, archival materials from 20 museum and private collections of Ukraine, as well as from Oleg Holosiy’s artist estate will be presented at the exhibition. Most of these artworks are largely unknown, and some will be exhibited for the first time. Through modern multimedia means, the exhibition will present the most interesting variants of previous exposition solutions implemented at the exhibitions abroad during the artist’s life.

In the center of the special exhibition program is the figure of Oleg Holosiy as an outstanding artist and the wide artistic, cultural, philosophical and literary context in which he was formed. During the lectures, curatorial excursions and discussions, we will touch upon the artistic trends of the 19th-20th centuries that were close to him (in particular, Romanticism, Expressionism, Neo-baroque, Transavantgarde), we will analyze the circle of literature that influenced the artist. The children’s and teenage programs will be focused on visual art as a way of emotional expression and philosophical reflection. The Elective Course special educational program for senior students of higher educational institutions, young scientists interested in contemporary culture and art will create a platform for knowledge sharing. The participants will be able to listen to lectures by the editors of the leading online media that write about culture and communicate with the curators of the project.

Oleg Holosiy is one of the artists of the Ukrainian New Wave and a group of artists formed around the Paris Commune workshops in Kyiv. By the early 1990s, Holosiy had become a star of the Ukrainian art scene and had a great influence on the creative work of other artists in Ukraine and abroad. Over the past five years of his life, the artist has created more than 270 paintings, which are benchmarks of the genius identity, demonstrating the search for alternatives to Soviet academicism through the creation of a self-sufficient movement in painting related to world’s postmodernist trends, such as the Italian Transavantgarde.

The exhibition Oleg Holosiy. Non-stop Painting by the Mystetskyi Arsenal continues a series of projects dedicated to the creative work of Oleg Holosiy in the context of contemporary Ukrainian art. The first exhibition – A Boy and A Comet – opened on May 15 at The Naked Room gallery and is working until June 11, 2019. And the outcome of the project will be the chamber exhibition Oleg Holosiy. Artist at the Museum within the framework of celebrating the 120th anniversary of the National Art Museum of Ukraine in September 2019. In addition to the exhibition of artworks provided by the artist’s family, the museum will host a round table on collecting contemporary Ukrainian art.

The exhibition will be open through June 13 – August 11, 2019, at the Mystetskyi Arsenal.

Comments Off on Oleg Holosiy. Non-stop Painting


Apr 24 2019 Published by under

„Nothing joins neighbours like a fence between them.”

Every history, every narrative, has its origins, its pre-history, its ancient times — in other words, its own past.

Mystetskyi Arsenal and Centre for East European and International Studies (Zentrum für Osteuropa und internationale Studien, ZOiS, Berlin) present the Obabich exhibition.

Curator of the project Jerzy Onuch and photographers Viktor Marushchenko and Mark Neville offer us to look at the place and borders of the imaginary or physical neighbourship between people. They record and interpret as the newest Ukrainian history, starting with the incredibly expressive Donbas images of Marushchenko, created more than 15 years ago, as well as the reality of today.

Although the protagonists, the heroes, of Marushchenko’s photos appear at first glance to be marginal, an attentive viewer can nevertheless detect within them how multi-dimensional human existence truly is. We see how they work and how they take rest and recreation. They are surrounded by memories, desires, and dreams. Dreams of a better, more beautiful, more colourful image of the world. Mark Neville’s photographs struck us as cold, and thus not overburdened with passion, and yet the distance they maintain is somehow imbued with a solidarity that is essential if one’s aim is not only to show something, but to give it a voice. As he travelled in Ukraine, Neville could not fail to notice that, despite the war in the east and all of its effects, life carried on, and the country’s people, similar to those in Marushchenko’s works, are seen continuing to seek happiness and immersion in beauty. And thus, Neville was able to convey this perception via photography, exactly as Marushchenko had done almost 20 years earlier.

Especially for the exhibition an artist Sasha Kurmaz will create graffiti on a metal fence. Kurmaz’s personal story comes to serve as a background for the exhibition, and a commentary on the two principal narratives.

“The project which we present to you in the form of an exhibition, and this book, its catalogue, also has its own past, which is different for every one of its participants. My task, as its curator, has been to gather all of these histories, these visual and verbal narratives, and create a stage for them on which they might appear in another fashion, in another form. Of course, this fashion, this form, might not coincide with the imaginings of the participating artists themselves. This also opens before you, its viewers and readers, also participants in this encounter, the possibility to construct your own narrative, which might begin here, but would nevertheless have its own pre-history.” 

Jerzy Onuch


Comments Off on Obabich

Amazing Stories of Crimea

Jan 30 2019 Published by under

The glimmering sea, the rustling cypress trees, the waves crashing beneath the steep cliffs, the faint smell of lavender, the endless steppe with wormwood and burial mounds, and the light ochre-colored earth. This is the beautiful, but sometimes harsh, Crimea we see in pictures, drawings and photographs. And it seems that in the Ukrainian public consciousness Crimea is more a space, a landscape, than the home of countless cultures – some well-studied, others mysterious.

That is why we want to tell you about Crimea and its people.

Who lived here and how? Who left these incredible burial mounds? These castles, minarets and columns? These ships and golden neck ornaments? What was life like here in ancient times and just a few hundred years ago? How best to imagine and understand the depth of Crimea’s fascinating history?

This exhibition was created to take you through the history of the ancient peoples who inhabited this land: the Cimmerians, the Tauri, the Scythians, the Greeks, and later the Goths, the Sarmatians, the Byzantines, the Khazars, the Cumans (Polovtsi), the Genoese and the Venetians, the Ottoman Turks, the Crimean Tatars. Crimea was their home, but they never lived cut off from the rest of the world. These branch cultures of the great steppe civilizations interacted actively with the mainland, and that is why we find related archeological sites throughout the Ukrainian east all the way to Kharkiv, and their influence was felt far to the west, to Halychyna and Poland. During the Great Migration of Peoples, groups of nomadic peoples built settlements and remained here on the peninsula. Crimea also belonged to the Mediterranean civilization, connected to Greece, Italy and Byzantium through the Black Sea.  

All these cultures became the source of the ethnogenesis – the formation of the peoples of the peninsula, who mixed for centuries with neighbors to the north and south, and each other. Crimea was on the boundary of different worlds – Scythian and Ancient, for example – who fought and traded with, borrowed from and created for each other. An interesting example of this are the many Scythian gold ornaments probably made by Greek craftsmen of the Black Sea coast. Or the Tauri, ancient inhabitants of the Crimean Mountains, who are described by ancient writers and whose close interaction with the Scythians gave rise to a new name of the region – Tauroscythia. But the influence of later peoples could still be felt in the Crimean steppes up until recently.  For instance, the way of life of the Khazars, nomadic Turkic tribes who came here via the Eurasian steppe, was preserved until the 20th century.

This all became the great Crimean melting pot in which modern peoples were born, in particular the Crimean Tatars – the indigenous ethnos of Crimea. We’ll tell you stories about the qırımlı, their traditions, faith, education and ceremonies. How much do you know about the famous coffee culture of the Crimeans? This is a chance to delve deeper into its secrets.

We’ll show you Crimea by creating a colorful stratified cut of soil, its cultural layers formed in different times. Together we are starting on an imaginary countdown, cutting deep through the cultural layers back to before humans existed.

Crimea was not isolated and closed off – it was a lively intersection of cultures. This peninsula grew and thrived through contact with other lands, but even when these ties were weak, the interaction of the people of Crimea and the experience of ancient metropolises always gave birth to something special. That today is the uniqueness of Crimea. That is what will determine its future, despite the challenges that it faces and must overcome today: as has happened repeatedly throughout its amazing history.   

Comments Off on Amazing Stories of Crimea


Jan 08 2019 Published by under

This July 11 – 20 the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Cultural-Arts and Museum Complex as a part of the annual Forbes Ukraine Art Project will host an exhibit of Ukrainian Contemporary Art entitled “A New Ukrainian Dream”.

The show is at one the artistic reflections of contemporary artists on the changes the nation has undergone in the last several months and their hopes for a new Ukraine.

Arsen Savadov, Vasyl Tsagolov, Oleh Tistol, Oleksiy Sai, Ihor Husyev, Maxim Mamsykov, Oleksandr Roitburd, Il’ja Chichkan, Myroslav Vajda – more than 40 artists in all – spanning generations and regions of the country will take part.  Noted art critic Oleksandr Solovyov will curate the project featuring new, commissioned works making their public debut and other celebrated pieces which undergird the concept.



Jan 08 2019 Published by under

On June 8th the Mystetskyi Arsenal opens a new project – the Ukrainian Avant-Garde Scene.  The exhibition looks back to that era of socio-political flux – the early 20th century – which ushered in a revolution in the arts and culture.  Ukraine – its folkloric dynamism and vibrant aesthetic responding to a general European pursuit of form and content – would provide the cradle of the avant-garde.  Ukrainian artists of the day stood out – key figures on the international arts scene – their names going down in history.

The exhibition features 100 singular works by 20 of the leading proponents of the Ukrainian avant-garde. 

The Ukrainian State Museum of Theater, Music, and Cinema has provided scenographic projects by Oleksandra Ekster, Anatole Petrytskyi, Vadim Meller, Oleksandr Khvostenko-Khvostov, and Boris Kosarev.  These artists are acknowledged internationally as reformers of scenography as we know it.  They not only spurred expressivity, depth, and motion in theatrical sets, but they altered the approach to the use of the stage itself.

The National Folk Decorative Art Museum has loaned work by native folk artists Hanna Sobachko-Shostak, Maria Prymachenko, Vasyl Dovhoshia, and Yevmen Pshechenko, pieces which echo remarkably with the designs of their more “urban” avant-garde contemporaries.

Works by Vasyl Yermylov, Viktor Palmov, Maria Synyakova, Oleksandr Bogomazov, Solomon Nikritin, and Oleksandr Arkhypenko have been thoughtfully provided from the private collections of Ihor Dychenko, Ihor Voronov, and Dmytro Gorbachov.



Jan 07 2019 Published by under

On April 29th, the Mystetskyi Arsenal opens the contemporary art project THE SHOW WITHIN THE SHOW. The dramatic universe of William Shakespeare resonates in our present cultural setting as we struggle with ambivalence in this most recent, painful period of social self-reflection.  Shakespearean chaos and order, love and hate, friendship and betrayal, power and subjection, sincerity and flattery, and the strain of these in correlation and resistance escape the confines of the Globe stage, permeating all of western literature and the arts in subsequent centuries.  Shakespeare’s work continues to be relevant in our day, touching as it does at the questions at the root of us, and the answers to which mankind has been in search of from antiquity.  THE SHOW WITHIN THE SHOW concept is derived from this work and tension and is presented in this International Year of Jubilee of William Shakespeare.

THE SHOW WITHIN THE SHOW exposition is comprised of two parts:  “Re-embodiment” and “Theater in History”.  The celebrated Shakespearean thesis that “all the world’s a stage” and that “we are merely players”, is imbued with the tragic declaration that we are born destined to a role.  Not surprisingly, some are wont to resist this universal “spectacle”, and actively resist its realization.  In this context, the theatre, sets, and actors take on an entirely other significance, manifesting the freedom of creation, and a striving to move beyond our divinely ordered predisposition.  This resistance evinces the purest desire for freedom, to choose one’s own path of life, and to live it fully, if briefly.  The theatre provides a means of escape from the universal spectacle, a challenge to the given reality that yet would not seek its ruin, but rather contrast that reality with one of its own fashioning.  In this way the show may prove more real than reality for a time.


Next »