Masterpieces of the Ukrainian Baroque return from oblivion. Recently a party-concert took place in the Great Ball Room at InterContinental Hotel. The organizers of the party-concert intended to raise funds to reprint the book Portals of Ukrainian Architecture. The book was originally written by architect Dmytro Yablonsky. Potential patrons of the reprinting were able to enjoy the exhibition of rare watercolors by Yablonsky.
According to the organizers, publishing of the second edition of Portals is of considerable importance for the Ukrainian culture. The author of the book Yablonsky is worth some special attention. Despite Russian origin (the architect was born in 1921 in Smolensk), upon his arrival to Ukraine the future doctor of architecture and an expert in the field of computer-aided housing design spoke Ukrainian and wore embroidered shirts. Yablonsky was also interested in Ukrainian architecture. In 1953 he defended his thesis for the Study of Ukrainian Baroque. At that time he wrote the book which was published in 4,500 copies. However, the book was withdrawn from circulation and was destroyed. Only two or three copies survived.
Why did the Soviet repressive system saw a threat in this book? In order to explain this, according to the organizers, we should turn to the history of the Baroque. The official version of the origin of this style is surprisingly pragmatic. The advent of the new aesthetic senses, which dominated not only in architecture but also in culture in general for over two centuries (from the 16th century to the early 19th century) was triggered by some “optimization” of construction process. Apostolic See, and it is known that the Baroque came from Italy, suffered lack of funds. There was not enough money for the construction of large structures and this was the beginning of searching for new possibilities to display the power and significance. It was then that the transition from large-scale forms to the semantic content took place. This marked the beginning of the era of “embellishment.”
Baroque tradition was adopted on the territory of divided at that time Ukraine. Here it combined with the Ukrainian vision of the art of constructing and the Baroque style took root here as Ukrainian or Cossack Baroque.
A characteristic feature is that virtually any cultural tradition established in Europe spread throughout Western territories but not to the East. The presence of traits and characteristics inherent to European monuments in Ukrainian architecture is the evidence of its cultural unity with the Old World. According to the organizers, Ukraine was a marginalized and peripheral but still a part of Europe. Realization of this fact by Ukrainians was at odds with the advocacy of the communist empire.
The major goal of the organizers is to return another evidence of the fact that Ukrainians belong to European civilization paradigm. In an interview with The Day the initiator of the event, the owner of the jewelry design studio Liudmyla Hararuk noted that the Ukrainian Baroque style is unique and its uniqueness has to affect self-awareness of Ukraine’s citizens. However, she does not have high hopes for the party. “It is unlikely that we will be able to raise enough funds to cover the cost of reprinting, but this event will be the first step towards the implementation of the goal,” said Hararuk. “The fact that we reminded people about this book is already an achievement in itself. In such a way we hope to stir interest in society or, at least, in some of its layers for the Ukrainian Baroque.” The designer herself admitted that for a long time she knew very little about this style. A friend of hers Vira Vynnychuk and Yablonsky’s daughter Anna inspired her to organize the reprinting of this book.
Music by Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Friedrich Handel performed by National Chamber Ensemble “Kyiv Soloists” and Saxophone Quartet of the National Philharmonic Society of Ukraine helped the guests of the event to plunge into the atmosphere of the past. Saxophone Quartet presented the sample of Baroque music, notes to which were recorded by some Ian from Lublin and for some time were preserved in the archives in Paris. Special attention was paid to Baroque religious singing performed by chamber choir “Kyiv.”