Interviewed by Olha LAHUTENKO
Kyiv's Pectoral Art Gallery has opened an exhibition of works by Prof.
Vasyl Huida of the Academy of Art and Architecture and his students.
Q: I seem to remember from art history that there used to be the
Filonov Studio with its own style, Matiushin Studio working on colors,
Malevych Studio with all of them followers of suprematism. Do we still
have this type of creative integrity?
A: Probably, but what sense does it make? The Shatalin Studio
where I studied was traditionally democratic, allowing artistic freedom,
and he did not expect his students to adopt any kind of Shatalinism. I
think I have managed to preserve that tradition and versatility. Maybe
some of the artists running studios and training future artists strive,
albeit subconsciously, to work out an easily identifiable style. I do not.
I never have, rather the contrary.
Q: Doesn't teaching interfere with your own creative work?
A: It has never occurred to me to look at it that way. I taught
even as I worked on my own diploma project. I can't imagine creating without
teaching. I am convinced that a teacher should always be a playing coach.
The students must see him at work and believe in his talent. I have a lot
of young talented people in my studio. They stimulate me and are always
behind me. The main thing is to preserve every student's individuality.
Q: Don't the nearby market and Andriyivsky uzviz distract your students?
A: They do, but every student receives 12 hryvnias stipend, which
is not even pocket money, so they all try to earn something on the side.
Besides, canvas and paints are quite expensive. Every student uses a canvas
four times, painting over, meaning that any technology is out of the question
because no previous works are left. We have supplies from the Academy,
but on a very limited basis.
Q: The generation raised on realism had to experience a crucial turning
point. What about you? Did you go through a crisis?
A: I don't feel like I did. It was just that a culture previously
suppressed broke through to the surface. We had always known about it.
And then it came pouring out, filling exhibit halls and street stands,
creating a new market situation. Thank God, all this has blown over and
settled. There are good and bad works in both realistic and abstract art.
Q: What do you think of the current situation with art in Ukraine?
A: There is an apparent figurative trend. Ten years of avant-garde
requires suffering. Conceptualism is thriving in the West. An artist must
stand in front of his picture and explain precisely what he wanted to portray
and what came out of it. Personally, I consider that the viewer should
sense and decide everything for himself. The conceptualists think that
every work must be backed by a theory. There is no craft or organization
of the canvas anywhere in the world. The Western school is purely conceptual.
We practice a different approach, professionalism. One should be able to
make copies and paint from nature, know composition, plasticity, and the
laws of art. After mastering all this, one is free to adopt whatever style
he likes best or invents.
I visited an art college in the United States. A big audience, a lot
of people, and the models are placed very high. Some were drawing or painting
in oil, others were molding. "Which department is this?" I asked and they
didn't understand. Art is no longer categorized there, no more genres.
Q: What kinds of diplomas do they receive? How do they major?
A: They are given diplomas for conceptual works. Four years of
tuition. Admittance is a formality. One pays and gets enrolled. One can
start from scratch. The college as a higher educational establishment attached
to the university trains painters, stage designers, even actors. An artist
paints an actor together with theatergoers. This is how they defend their
diploma works. I dropped in at a dean's studio and froze: rows of coffins,
15 or so, one with a handle, another without any, still another with a
hole with a very true-to-life human eye peeping through. I showed them
color slides with works by Yevhen Prokopov, Anatoly Kushch, and Oleksiy
Kantemyrov. Their only question was, what century? They thought the canvases
were from a museum collection of antiquities. And then the students asked
for a lecture. Later the college borrowed the Academy's curriculum, but
I think that they will need our teachers, too. They have no experts like