The Kyiv-based artist Natalia Kucher called her exhibit “The Window Opens on the Garden” (by the title of a poem collection by Iryna Zhylenko, a prominent figure of the Second National Renaissance period. August 3 marks the first anniversary of her death). The oeuvre of this writer, poetess, and Sixtier journalist, full of deep-seated humaneness and refined estheticism, is consonant with the artist’s inner sensation of the world. The themes of Kucher’s works are all too familiar – faces of relatives and friends, the beloved Kyiv landscapes, architectural monuments, trees and flowers.
As the artist confesses, she discovered Zhylenko’s poetry a long time ago, and it was no mere chance. In general, the theme of the Sixtiers dissident movement occupies a special place in Kucher’s art life. Since she graduated from the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University as Ukrainian philologist, she has been working at the Ukrainian National Museum of Literature for over 30 years, having chosen as subject of her research the unconventional figures of Sixtiers – writers, artists, and public activists. Natalia’s scholarly publications are about Vasyl Stus, Viktor Zaretsky, Alla Horska, Roman Korohodsky, Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska, Iryna Zhylenko, et al. It would be right to say that their selfless work in the name of Ukrainians produced a powerful echo on Maidan 2013 and stirred up the Revolution of Dignity.
Iryna Zhylenko’s poetry particularly appeals to the artist. A radiant, sunny, vision of the world is inherent in Kucher, as it was in the poetess. She loves her native land’s picturesque landscapes, and this positive spirit powerfully beams from her canvases. This is such a sincere and bright light that when we look at her works, we wonder why we are usually unable to notice and appreciate beauty.
“Natalia Kucher’s portraits were a true discovery for us,” says Myroslava KRYVONOS, sharing her impressions of the exhibition. “They spotlight very well the inner world of the painted people, the traits of their characters, and the attitude of the authoress to them. Very attractive are elements of secession and the manner typical of fresco-tempera painting. What also catches the eye is a lot of landscapes and still lifes made with oil paints, for I had previously known Ms. Natalia as a master who usually applies the pastel technique. Particularly charming are her Zaborowski Gate, Phloxes, The Gardener’s House, A Bouquet of Marigolds, etc. As time went by, the canvas colors became brighter and more sonorous, like a piece of her generous soul.”
The exhibit’s title, “The Window Opens on the Garden,” is a metaphor of Kucher’s oeuvre. The artist has been painting pictures from life in the Mykola Hryshko Botanical Garden for several years in a row. Flowers on her canvases are the real creations and achievements of this scientific center’s associates. At the same time, the word “garden” has some more meanings for the mistress – for example, as the Heavenly Garden in the picture Zaborowski Gate and the garden of an inner self. This is why the exhibit also displays portraits of the people the communication with whom ennobled and nursed the garden of the soul. Among them are the Sixtier culturologist Roman Korohodsky, the artists Volodymyr Davydov and Volodymyr Harbuz, the writer Guram Petriashvili. What occupies a special place in the exposition is a portrait of Taras Shevchenko – as a reminder of our roots and existence…
The artist began to paint pictures when she had turned forty. Her gurus were such well-known masters as Volodymyr Davydov and Rafael Bagautdinov. As Kucher confesses, she is inspired by the example of the masters who developed their talent by themselves – Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, and Pierre Bonnard.
“Beauty and inspiration can beat the darkness that is trying to ‘swallow’ our flourishing land,” Liudmyla Taran insisted. It is very important today to keep the light of hope shining, believe in one’s own strength, and nurse a new social garden, as Iryna Zhylenko dreamed:
And a white garden will descend on earth again,
And a window will open on the white garden…