Ukrainian artists who work in the sphere of painting, photography, literature, and fashion have an opportunity to show themselves on an international level. The point of contact this time is France’s Cote d’Azur, Nice. The action is dedicated to the 155th birth anniversary of French artist of Ukrainian origin Maria Bashkyrtseva (Marie Bashkirtseff), who was born near Poltava (village Havrontsi) and spent a part of her artistic life in Nice. The local Jules Cheret Fine Arts Museum has a hall dedicated to Bashkyrtseva. As a reminder, only three paintings by the artist are being currently preserved in Ukraine – in Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Sumy.
Nice is also the place where Maria started keeping her famous diary (16 volumes on the whole), at age 15. Incidentally, Mykola Hohol had also come to this city, and Volodymyr Vynnychenko is buried in Mougins, not far from Cannes. Unfortunately, these facts are rarely mentioned in Ukraine. Even the organizer of the project, Ukraine-born Canadian Natalia Burianyk (currently a citizen of the Netherlands) explains the choice of the venue in the following way: “I knew nothing about Maria Bashkyrtseva. It all happened by sheer accident. We were recreating here in summer. Then we started to attend museums [by the way, all museums in Nice have free admission. – Ed.]. In the Museum of Arts we read in a book the information about the building, former estate of Ukrainian aristocrats Kochubeis. We entered it and saw the paintings by Maria Bashkyrtseva, whose oeuvre was new to us. There is also Bashkyrtseva sculpture, created by Michel de Tarnowski. Michel turned out to be a son of a Kyivite, but he was born in Nice. The book Russians on Cote d’Azur contained a list of names, Maria Bashkyrtseva, Mykola Hohol, and Michel de Tarnowski. We do not want to take something from Russia, rather we want to defend our culture. There should be a clear association that Maria Bashkyrtseva means Ukraine.”
Bashkyrtseva was a true Amazon. She frequently amazed and even shocked men with her talent, workability, and independence, as well as the openly feministic view on the relations of gender. In 1881 Bashkyrtseva (under pseudonym Pauline Orrel) wrote several publications for the feminist newspaper La Citoyenne. “I am not looking for anyone, because I think that men should be accessories in the lives of strong women,” she wrote to Guy de Maupassant.
Natalia BURIANYK: “I knew nothing about Maria Bashkyrtseva. It all happened by sheer accident. We were recreating here in summer. Then we started to attend museums. In the Museum of Arts we read in a book the information about the building, former estate of Ukrainian aristocrats Kochubeis. We entered it and saw the paintings by Maria Bashkyrtseva, whose oeuvre was new to us. There is also Bashkyrtseva sculpture, created by Michel de Tarnowski. Michel turned out to be a son of a Kyivite, but he was born in Nice. The book Russians on Cote d’Azur contained a list of names, Maria Bashkyrtseva, Mykola Hohol, and Michel de Tarnowski. We do not want to take something from Russia, rather we want to defend our culture. There should be a clear association that Maria Bashkyrtseva means Ukraine.”
Currently Nice is hosting the events connected with Ukrainian culture. Dr. Natalia Burianyk, head of the Matrix Orange, an arts and culture foundation located in the Netherlands, is the curator of the project.
“I see culture as a matrix consisting of many elements, such as politics, economy, geography, music, theater, etc.,” Burianyk says. “Why ‘orange’? Because The Hague is a royal city, the residence of the royal family, the House of Orange. Since the organization is registered in Holland, this is the reason number one. Besides, it is the color of the Orange Revolution. As a Kyivite I am very proud of this event.”
The foundation, created in 2010, is aimed at making the world know the Ukrainian reality, artists, and culture. It is worth to mention its first action “Ukrainian Women in Art and Culture” (The Hague, 2010), which included the exhibits of artists Kateryna Kosianenko, Oksana Stratiichuk, Oksana Popinova, and a meeting with writer Oksana Zabuzhko.
The beginning of this year’s program includes the launch of the exhibit of the art group Absentna realnist (Absinthe Reality): Vadym Shymanov (painting) and Oleksandr Shymbarovsky (photography). The RITO Fashion House is presenting its new collection of knitted outfits “Cote d’Azur.”
There will also be a literary soiree in the Louis Nucera Library with the participation of Glagoslav Publications, which specializes in publishing modern fiction and popular science books and republishing of popular classical works by Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian authors. This time it will present the latest books by Iren Rozdobudko, Maria Matios, and Larysa Denysenko, with the latter taking part in the event.
On January 18 an exhibit of Ukrainian artist Kateryna Kosianenko will be launched. A graduate of the Shevchenko Art School and National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, she has also studied at the Theater Decoration Department, where she was taught by outstanding set designer Danylo Lider. In 2005 she underwent internship at the National Academy of Fine Arts (People’s Artist Hurin’s painting studio). Kosianenko is a Master of Fine Arts and a member of the National Association of Artists of Ukraine. She is working in the sphere of easel painting. In 2009 she underwent an internship at Cite Internationale des Arts (Paris).
Kosianenko is taking a regular part in international exhibits and projects. The series of her paintings, “Mamais and Mamaivnas,” “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,” and “Calendar” broach deep Ukrainian topics and tell about the inner world of our people. At this year’s exhibit she’s presenting her new paintings, the warm series “Obolon Saints,” where she tried to convey the closeness of many-century tradition and modernity of our sacred places, with Obolon high rises in the background. The paintings “iPhone” show modern reality of a person living in the world of technology and not belonging to himself anymore. Paradise Stop shows paradise trees fenced from the modern world of chaos, a lonely and empty stop. The paradise is empty and closed for the society these days. Only a sole cat looks at us, the audience, as if asking: Have you found your peace, your paradise?
The foundation holds all actions in cooperation with the French Cultural Center. The head of the center Frederic Rey is also the head of Theatre de la Semeuse in Nice, which on January 19 will stage the play Bashkyrtseva’s Letters to Guy de Maupassant in the Museum of Fine Arts. The performance will take place in a warm chamber atmosphere with biscuits and tea. Burianyk wants Rey’s play to be translated into Ukrainian and shown in our country. Actress Tetiana Kurlikovska from the Kyiv Theater of Drama and Comedy on the Left Bank has been invited to Nice to get acquainted with the play’s director, as well as get to know Bashkyrtseva’s oeuvre. Rey in his turn is planning to visit Ukraine in April to ponder the possibility of staging the play. Currently they are looking for the premises. They want to show the play in a museum with Bashkyrtseva’s paintings. There is even an idea to stage two performances, in French and in Ukrainian. It is interesting to see how one and the same production influences people, depending on the change of language.
However, there are some problems with funding, mentioned by Burianyk: “In Nice the event is supported by the French, Dutch, and Canadians, however, no Ukrainian businessman has shown any desire to help us, although we have appealed to many of them.” But all things notwithstanding Ukrainian artists reach their aim, which is proof that together we can create our own reality, and we really have things to show to the world.