SVALYAVCHYK/oil paintings


The name of our contemporary, the People’s artist of Ukraine Vasyl Petrovych Svaliavchyk is known not only to passionate fans of painting іn Transcarpathian art space. The winner of the Y. Bokshai and A. Erdelyi regional prize in fine arts, V. Svaliavchyk is known as energetic person with active position in the public life of the land. For decades of generous and fruitful creative activity he professes respect to the fundamental ideas of the Transcarpathian school of painting, proclaimed by Y.Bokshai and A. Erdelyi in the 1920s. These ideas are the honest and truthful attitude to art and life, respect to the land of ancestors and high level of knowledge. The сreative life of V. Svaliavchyk is marked with sincere love to the homeland, with author’s fresh and pure outlook, with rich palette of plein air painting.

There exists a wonderful lyrical world in the soul of Vasyl Svaliavchyk. This gift has been developing since his childhood. He was born on October 14, 1951 to the family of simple modest workers, who implanted in his son a sense of expediency and perfection of the world. The artistic talent of Vasyl Svaliavchyk had been formed and then matured during his studies at the Uzhgorod School of Applied Arts, from which he graduated in 1971. Pavlo Balla, Shandor Petki and Victor Demydiuk were his teachers of the professional subjects. Within the walls of the native institution he grew up professionally, acquired thoughtful attitude to nature and people.

The artist works in the genres which are traditionally admired by Transcarpathians. These are landscapes, still lives and also portraits. A large historical-cultural weight of the art material accumulated in the epoch-making canvases of the coryphaei of the Transcarpathian school of painting, their pupils and followers, not only raised the bar of the achievements highly, but also evoked an incessant desire to perfect oneself. V. Svaliavchyk studies eagerly, he learns in nature, as it is the best teacher. Only in the open air he appeases his thirst for perfect image making, verifying his feelings by the method of realism as the method of veracious reconstitution of the being.

All that is wonderful for V. Svaliavchyk - clear rivers, high mountains, noisy streams, Verkhovina greenary, friendly people, starts immidiately outside the door of the native hоuse. Following the steps of the giants of the Transcarpathian school, famous landscape masters J.Bokshai, Z.Sholtes, A. Kashai, E. Kontratovych, the artist does not simply imitate but creatively rethinks their traditions and achievements. He retains anxiously all the advices and evaluations of the older colleagues and takes their words with attention and respect. Preserved in his private collection are his own works painted alla prima in 1970s, and some of them keep the touch of the teachers: the first layer of colours put by Kashai on the canvas V. Svaliavchyk worked on. This unique canvas has become a relic for Vasyl Petrovych. Anton Kashai’s bright personality, his authority in life and art has been operating as an accelerator and mover for young people. A rich palette of the master opened the art space to young talents. Isn’t it the reason that in some works a tune inspired by the picturesque A.Kashshai’s "sketches" is undoubtedly felt.

A passible heart of V. Svaliavchyk beats in unison with the rhythm that comes from the amazing works of the artists of the native land. One of the outstanding landscape painters that influenced the formation of the creative personality of V. Svaliavchyk is People's Artist of Ukraine Ivan Shutiev. The famous author’s elegant and graceful landscapes with a powerful charge of love for the native land gave inspiration and creative fervor. Common journeys around Transcarpathia mountains and valleys were a skill classes for Vasyl. At plein airs artists shared the joy of meeting with nature, the beauty of the hidden inner personal attitude. Friendly relations contributed to the birth of a well-disposed fellowship in which the ability to see and feel and to reproduce the seen on canvas was polished and perfected.

A talented and original artist Ernest Kontratovych made an extraordinary impression on the young author. Svaliavchyk's emotionally intense painting of 1980th has something in common with the manner and style of Kontratovych. His original world of colours attracted Vasyl Svaliavchyk like a magnet. A senior artist E. Kontratovych loved to paint outdoors and actively brought this painting practice within the reach of his colleagues artists.

Plein air painting to a very old age helped Kontratovych to preserve a good physical form, a sharp eye and also a painting skill. In one of his paintings V. Svaliavchyk has represented the figure of Kontratovych, the patriarch of Transcarpathian art school. The artist is depicted in the process of painting, sitting on his low stool. One can easily recognize the hat and the silhouette of the artist.

Svaliavchyk has grasped the system of views of Kontratovych, its harmonious universe structure, ethnocentrism and positivism, making his own compositions in a special colours, inherent to Kontratovych. The colour of brown terracotta dominates in Vasyl Svalyavchyk’s paintings of this period. Constructivism, careful processing of the canvas’s surface and integrity of the image are characteristic for his compositions. Expressive colour culture accentuates the powerful internal potential of the artist. Brilliant Svaliavchyk’s color landscapes resemble ceramic pieces of the folk craftsmen.

The artist proceeds from the small poetic scenes of Transcarpathia to an attempt to convey by means of colour and composition a special rhythm of mountain panoramas. They really do not leave the audience indifferent. Vast epic landscapes of Svaliavchyk consistently praise the greatness of the Carpathians, their mighty peaks and force of nature. The artist, like a true explorer, beholds, analyzes and recreates the nature. The author finds a pictorial accordance to his impressions. To catch the impressions he travels far and very often on foot. He finds and sketches different parts of Transcarpathia, its remote places. His travelling geography covers mountain villages of Mizhhirya, Volovets, Rakhiv districts, which sometimes are not easy to reach. Far from civilization the author has met the past of our land. It was here that he has discovered the important topic of the preservation of the historical and cultural heritage of the native land. Taking care of wooden temples and other monuments of folk architecture has become the artist’s life aim.

The artist felt the need to speak out frankly about the picturesque world of church wooden architecture of Transcarpathia. Over the years carefully and methodically he has created paintings depicting wooden churches. These colourful paintings are like documentary evidence of the witness who examines the state of wooden churches in Transcarpathia. The unique examples of sacral architecture of the world level must be preserved for future generations by the efforts of local communities, individuals and international culture institutions. One can see the man-made spiritual treasures erected by genius of simple Transcarpathians. V. Svalіavchyk as a painter does his feasible bit to the theme of preserving the memory of the ancestors, materialized in architectural forms of wooden temples. They are depicted in such landscapes as ‘’The St. Michael the Archangel church of the 18th century in the village Negrovets”, Mizhhirya district (2006), " The Blessed Virgin church of the 18th century in the village Pylypets”, Mizhhirya district (1996), " The Blessed Virgin church of 1808 in the village of Bukovets”, Mizhhirya district (2006) and many others. The artist returns periodically to his favorite beauties - churches to see them in winter, fall and spring, in all seasons and times. A colour, a view, a perspective change but these sacred structures remain invariable in the paintings of the artist.

V. Svaliavchyk honestly and objectively evaluates his searches and finds in plein air painting. He always wants to be in the right place to accurately convey the mood of sunrise, mysterious mountain gorges and dramatic clouds of rainy days. The rhythms of mountain panoramas and calmness of lyrical landscapes are consonant with harmonious inner world of the author. The fragile beauty of fields, green bows, herbs and colorful wreath of flowers convey the melody of the landscape. The artist takes delight in the wealth of the world, in the colours of a summer field. Lyrics of the relations with world, delight and wonder often turns into a passionate love.

The creative nature of artist V. Svalіavchyk perceives the surrounding world very emotionally and reflects it in his still lifes. The simple things of everyday life are close to the author’s heart. Still life genre requires not only a proper selection of familiar things, but also allowes an original interpretation of the reality. The constant search for harmony in life and art brings interesting art findings that have something in common with the creative activity of people. In the usual images of everyday kitchen items and things one can feel not only the history of still life in pictorial art, but also a bright and original national tradition. Pumpkins, zucchini, squashes, beetroots in Svaliavchyk’s still lives make a poetic folk image, accurately reproduced by artist in the difficult genre of still life.

The work features vitality, but also a bit of drama, and even certain personification. Depicted in a larger than life-size, the vegetables on the canvas gain a kind of mystical folk sound. One can feel something from F. Manailo style in these majestic pumpkins-housewives that live in Svaliavchyk’s still lives. Done in a poetic national traditions of exaggeration, the pictorial compositions become somewhat fabulous, and gain even mythological properties. And they also present a careful perfect drawing skill of the artist.

The author has chosen an interesting style in order to combine the playful and at the same time true story of rendering the surrounding world. The still lives of Svaliavchyk bring a simple wonder of a song or a tale into the world of a man. This is the way the hidden romanticism of the artist’s nature shows up. The artist installs all beauties of floral kingdom in the paintings. From his beautiful still lives, full of red poppies and blue cornflowers, flows powerful charge of energy. His successful paintings with flowers are "Wildflowers" (1990), " Poppies" (1996), "Spring still life" (2000) and others.

Since 1987 Vasyl Svaliavchyk has became a member of the Transcarpathian organization of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine. He is a participant in numerous art exhibitions: in regional - since 1976, in nationwide - since 1984, in foreign - 1987. His personal exhibitions were held in Germany (Fussen, 1998), Uzhhorod - 1998, 2003, 2006, 2007, Mukachevo - 1999, Kiev – 2000, Poland (Lublin, 2003), Slovakia (Bratislava, 2004).

With years of creative work and happy discovering of his own style the circle of artist’s admirers has expanded. The works of the People's Artist of Ukraine Vasyl Svaliavchyk brought the image of land under the Carpathians to foreign audience in Slovakia, where a series of exhibitions under the title "Native Land" was held in Kosice, Presov, Humenne, Bardejov, Banska Bystrica in 2014-2015. The Transcarpathian painter, author of wonderful landscapes and still lives was received with sympathy by Slovak audience. Svaliavchyk‘s lyrical talent found his way to the hearts of many people who are not indifferent to the world and its beauty.

2016 brought the highest award - the title of People's Artist of Ukraine to Vasyl Petrovych Svaliavchyk, a well known and respected Ukrainian master of landscapes, polyphonic still lives, intimate urban motifs. After many years of fruitful creative work he has established himself as a convinced follower and successor of the traditions of the Transcarpathian school of painting. V. Svaliavchyk’s paintings are memorable for the dynamics of landscape stories, expression of colours, realism of the emotional states of nature at different times of day and season.

V. Svaliavchyk loves people and likes to invite guests. In his courtyard there are amazing flowers, sunflowers, small ponds and tiny bridges over them, garden houses and various wood species as majestic pavilions. Flowers smell around and bees buzz and it is actually the centre of the city. It is a nice place for painting. The atmosphere of beauty and human happiness fills the artist's home. The two children of the artist are on their own. His daughter Victoria has become a professional musician, a conductor of the symphony orchestra of the Transcarpathian Regional Philharmonic Society and Honored Artist of Ukraine. His son Peter has inherited the artistic fate of his father, he has also become an artist and a teacher at the Academy of Arts in Uzhhorod. Playing in the garden are small grandchildren of the artist.

Vasyl Petrovych is the artist of restless and violent temper. He tirelessly welcomes the sunrise in high mountains. He looks for inspiration, where shepherds graze sheep, among dense woods, fast streams and steep hills. The motifs of his native land is a powerful dominant in the works of Transcarpathian painter, whose art for many years serves his native land and people with respect and devotion. The works of the People's Artist of Ukraine Vasyl Svaliavchyk adorn public and private collections in our country, Europe and America. Vasyl Petrovych Svaliavchyk is sincere in his art. This is the key to his success!

by Liudmyla Biksei, an art critic.