For the last couple of weeks, it has been heartbreaking to hear of the developing events in Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and those in Russia who also stand up for freedom. We can’t begin to comprehend what Ukraine – or any country experiencing war – is going through. While talking about art can seem so inconsequential and even superficial, we do believe that art can help us feel hopeful during dark times.
Today we would like to pay tribute and celebrate the work of Maria Prymachenko (1909–1997), one of Ukraine’s most celebrated folk artists. On February 27, 2022, the Ivankiv Historical Museum, which housed many works by Prymachenko, was bombed. Reportedly, brave local residents were able to retrieve art pieces from the burning museum before they were lost entirely, including 25 works by Prymachenko, but nonetheless this was an attempt against an important part of Ukraine’s cultural legacy.
Known for her vibrant and imaginative cultural motifs in bold colours, Maria Prymachenko was a self-taught folk artist whose work extended from embroidery and painted ceramics to gouache and watercolour painting depicting life in the Ukrainian countryside, dream-inspired characters and creatures. While her works are not exclusively political, she did create paintings of resistance, particularly during a stretch in the late 1970s during the Brezhnev years.
In 1966 Prymachenko received the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine, and in 1970 she was recognized as the People’s Artist of Ukraine, the country’s highest cultural honour.
We hope that wherever you are, the work of this great artist brings you solace.