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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Black-and-white masterpieces

Four Ukrainian artists presented their drawings at the Nebo Gallery
25 December, 2013 - 16:32
OLHA MATVIEITSEVA’S A DREAM / Illustration courtesy of the Nebo Gallery

“Six-month-long search, a stroke of luck, and the artists’ professionalism have combined to make this a unique exhibition!” the Nebo’s manager Yulia Myzgina commented. Indeed, we see contemporary drawings not that often, mostly at specialized triennial events as well as book illustration exhibitions. Solo or group exhibitions featuring works by masters of the refined and restrained black-and-white art occur only rarely.

The Nebo Gallery has ventured to fill this gap and show the audience selected works by professional artists who had graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts and participated in many international and Ukrainian graphics competitions. The exhibition includes etchings that use the technique, known since the 16th century, of engraving on metal, employing strong acid to create a design in intaglio. Another technique, known in Europe since the 15th century, is engraving, where paper is stamped with the printing matrix. The four creators found their own approaches, combining different techniques to achieve best overall artistic expressiveness.

All four participants of the exhibition deserve further discussion. Nina Smykalova participated in the Yakutovych Graphics Triennial organized by the National Union of Artists of Ukraine, Book Arsenal held at the Hachi Prichi studio, and the Book and Printing Museum’s project “Art Book.” The artist found her own creative niche by engaging in talented technical experiments and using an unusual and expressive method of making a copper wire frame for printing matrix and stamping it on paper.

Serhii Pohrebinsky participated in RUTABOOK exhibition, the Book and Printing Museum’s project “Author Graphics,” 13 national exhibitions at the House of Artist and several solo exhibitions. The master works mainly in the woodcut technique, while works displayed at the “Black on White” exhibition are examples of the linocut technique. Recently, Pohrebinsky has become interested in structure and geometrization, and turned to natural forms.

Polina Doroshenko has been using textile, collage, watercolor, and woodcut techniques. She conducted workshops on art books, notebooks, and cardboard prints for children and adults, and participated in exhibitions and international festivals (International Per-Art festival in Romania in 2011 and Bologna Gianni Rodari Children’s Book Fair in 2009). Her favorite technique is print stamping. She uses it to create not planar images, but three-dimensional, relief ones on the paper, while using paper itself as part of the image. This technique can be used with the print machine, too.

Olha Matvieitseva presented her works at the National Book Design Exhibition and duo exhibition Two Views (held jointly with Voropaieva) at the Art Mix and Master Class galleries. She employs the classic copper and zinc plate etching technique, combining different approaches to etching, such as aquatint, dry needle, and mezzotint, and sometimes watercoloring her masterpieces.

Each artist is a unique creator, displaying a distinctive style and choice of subject matter. Thus, they have brought a huge variety of genres to the exhibition, from nude figures to still lifes and landscapes. Ascetic black-and-white images allow greater freedom for authors’ curious imagination in search of better expression. “We strive to host a graphics exhibition every year,” Myzgina told us, “looking for something interesting every time, introducing visitors to the different techniques of printing, such as etching, engraving, and experimental print stamping. Graphics is, above all, the relationship of black and white, with the black line creating the silhouette and volume, and the white background serving as a special metaphysical space, capturing the life of conventional objects and shapes. The “Black on White” exhibition reveals the line’s potential and shows the visitor how minimalist means create highly artistic works that reflect completely different orientations and ideological contents. I should add that despite their youth, every graphics artist who is taking part in our exhibition has their own unique style, making their works definitely worth a look!”

By Olena SHAPIRO, art critic
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