Imprint. Ukrainian printmaking of the XX – XXI centuriesExhibitions

Imprint. Ukrainian printmaking of the XX – XXI centuries

Imprint. Ukrainian printmaking of the XX – XXI centuries
Мистецький Арсенал
вул. Лаврська, 10-12
Київ, Київська область 01010

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.

Iryna Borovets, co-сurator of the exhibition

The Imprint. Ukrainian Printmaking of the 20th-21st Centuries exhibition is actually a blockbuster because there were no analog projects focused on an engraving art in Ukraine. Today, printed graphics in Ukraine are developing quite rapidly. We have whole generations of contemporary artists who work in this medium, achieving remarkable results. However, to understand current processes in this field better, one has to look at the history of Ukrainian engraving for at least the last hundred years, since it finally emerged from the shadow of a book or magazine illustrations and became self-sufficient in every sense. The Imprint project aims to show the existence of a continuous line of the transformation of Ukrainian engraving through tradition and innovation, to identify the interconnections and intersections of certain artistic processes of different periods.
We present about 500 graphic artworks by 128 artists, dating from the early 20th century to the present. Indeed, this is not an exhaustive list of Ukrainian graphic artists, but it is rather a
demonstration or cross-section of a phenomenon, period.

Kateryna Pidhaina, co-сurator of the exhibition

In terms of the process, techniques, and technologies, graphic art is the most conservative type of visual art. While, in my view, today the process of creating a graphic artwork is an art of itself, with access to modern technologies and various options of image creation and distribution. In addition, more and more artists create unique, one-edition graphic artworks, thus removing the medium from the “affordably priced art” category and contributing to new developments of print graphics. It was the evolution and transformation of the graphic art that inspired us to work on this project.
The exhibition will be divided into three thematical blocks. We tried to avoid the chronological
interpretation of the history of the Ukrainian printed graphics development. Therefore, the works of different generations contemporary artists will be integrated into each section, demonstrating a single meaningful environment for everyone from the past and present.