It seems only yesterday we worked together with Oleh Slieptsov in a research department of Kyiv RPIEDUC [Research and Planning Institute of Experimental Design of Urban Constructions. –Author]. In fact, it’s been over 30 years ago. Apart from our joint work of a postgraduate architect and an art historian – both being the beginners in science, I remember well the touching concerts of Kyiv bards in the club of the plant “Arsenal,” located in the old Pechersk in the 1980s, which had always disturbed our young hearts. Slieptsov participated in them as a composer and a performer of his own songs. We always enjoyed his singing, proud to be associated with him through common institute “roots.”
Our professional paths diverged during the Soviet era and at the opening of the jubilee vernissage of Slieptsov, while listening to positive and, I’m sure, sincere speeches and congratulations to him from eminent representatives of the architectural elite of Ukraine, I as if got to know him afresh.
Slieptsov’s achievements in the work of his life in the last 30 years are really quite impressive and sure amaze you: in wide circles of his colleagues Slieptsov is known as a leading expert in the field of architecture, scholar, practitioner, and teacher. The main areas of his practical activity and research (he is the author of 100 scientific publications, including seven monographs) are large urban complexes, architecture of residential and public buildings, sacred architecture, and inventions. Doctor of Architecture, professor, Honored Architect of Ukraine, winner of the State Prize of Ukraine in the field of architecture, member of the Ukrainian Academy of Architecture, foreign member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Sciences (this list of titles and achievements can be continued infinitely) Slieptsov is currently the chair of the Department of the Basics of Architecture and Architectural Design at Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture and also the creative director of the Academic Project Architect Bureau “Litsenziarkh.” People, who work in the bureau are, in fact, Slieptsov’s other family.
It is great that in the jubilee exposition in Khlibnia gallery Slieptsov presents his best architectural designs of housing and public buildings and constructions of sacred character of the recent years (the total number of designs created by the architect reaches 300), which have either been already constructed or those that are being constructed now in Kyiv and Kyiv oblast, including Slavutych, Vyshneve, and also Ternopil, Luhansk, and Kharkiv region. Personally I was amazed with the contest project, which in 2004 won the fair contest of architects for designing the Kempinski Palm Jumeirah Residence in Dubai, UAE. This project sure did not remain on paper and in the period between 2007 and 2012 it was implemented and, what is very important, the construction took place under the direct supervision of the Ukrainian creator of this astonishing building. I think it is not only the dazzling victory of Kyiv architect Slieptsov, but also the victory of the whole Ukrainian architectural school!
Despite the seemingly overwhelming titanic work in architectural design, Slieptsov has not abandoned his passion for music and continues to “breathe” with it in the 2000s: as an author and performer of his own musical compositions, he released a collection of songs, a few music albums, and videos. Moreover, as a composer and performer, he was awarded at the International Music Festival “Hit of the Year” (in 2004, 2005, and 2006) and in 2006 he even gave solo concerts accompanied by chamber symphony orchestra. This is the remarkable – truly “Renaissance” amplitude of talents and breadth of creative skills, which personally I see for the first time in my life. And that’s still not all. Slieptsov has another serious hobby: he raves about the mysterious world of high art tapestry, which can be clearly seen in the exhibition that takes place in Khlibnia.
The architectural theme certainly serves as his muse in monumental in scope and expressiveness tapestries. You’d probably agree that nothing reminds of the historical past of the nation better than architectural creations of past eras and styles, which appear in Slieptsov’s tapestries like magic echo of the distant harmonious world, wrapped in a mysterious and melancholy haze.
The artist travels a lot around Ukraine seeking for nature that would inspire him: he owes his aesthetic revelation and sense to architecture and nature. In that the artist follows his outstanding teacher – unsurpassed graphic architect from Kyiv, who masterfully worked in landscape genre – Yurii Khymych. Khymych left us the “gold mine” of graphic masterpieces with scenery of temple and urban architecture of Ukraine, created in his own mixed technique of using gouache and tempera.
Some graphic sheets made by Slieptsov as a traveler indeed suggest an indirect influence of the honorable teacher, with whom the artist often traveled together and painted side-by-side. But unlike the easel graphics created by Khymych, stacks of drawings, sketches, pastels, and oil paintings by Slieptsov later somehow transformed and became volatile “portraits of eternity” in sleek weaving.
The architect, scientist, musician, composer, and artist Slieptsov certainly strikes with the amplitude of his interests and talents, with the scale and intensity of his activity. However, I am certain that it is not only his merit: genes are working in full force here too. After researching his ancestry to the 18th century, Slieptsov found that all his predecessors in every generation drew and sang. He also discovered archival documents that indicate the dominant line of church clergy in his family: Slieptsov found out about at least five of his great-grandfathers who were priests. But the main influence in shaping his attitude and outlook certainly had his parents. Slieptsov’s father Semen was a military officer. His mother Irena Slieptsova, librarian with 60 years of experience, dedicated all her life to the development of the many talents of her son. She was mightily rewarded for all her efforts by the results of his work. The proof of that can be the thought expressed by Slieptsov himself: “Perhaps, because in my life I had more surprises than doubts, my lifestyle is harmony of architecture, music, painting, tapestry, research, books, which present my experience and desire to convey to my students the knowledge I have, love and optimistic attitude to the profession. Maybe, this is the happiness of creative work.” He certainly has a point in that. Although such happiness is given only to the chosen ones.