One should look at the works by Kharkiv-based virtuoso carver Hryhorii Husak through a magnifying glass, otherwise it will be impossible to assess the literary microscopic preciseness of every detail – face expressions of the saints, their fingers, etc. Sculptures in relief are created in a similar way, mostly under a microscope. “Few people can focus their eye through the lens of microscope for a long time - the focus ‘drifts away.’ And I often work for 12 hours a day with a break for dinner,” Husak says with simplicity, which is considered a companion of genius.
FAITH WITHOUT RELIGION, MARVELS WITHOUT MYSTICISM
It takes the carver up to three years to create one minuscule masterpiece, however, the author has been working for over 10 years on the polyptych, which comprises 82 plots. Symbolically, he works with the help of diamond cutters which he holds in his left hand, like the legendary artisan Lefty. He does not attach the article to any holder, holding it with his idle right hand, which is inconceivable in this fine technique. He resides in his home village Mykolaivka, Kharkiv oblast, although he owns an apartment in the city. “It is easier to work outdoors,” the craftsman assures. He is keen on diving and underwater hunting, for which he goes to Stary Oskol, where he shoots photos and videos underwater. “During the work you need to be strained and relaxed at the same time. You must be able to hold your breath,” Husak shares.
The Kharkiv-based Lefty’s works are mostly dedicated to Biblical plots with religious meaning, like crosses, icons, and pectoral images depicting Mother of God. In his choice he was inspired by the miniature plastic art by carver Amvrosii, who worked in the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in the 15th century. However, the artisan does not put any special religious meaning in his works and does not consider himself a believer in the traditional understanding of the word. Nonetheless he recalls how his works influenced different people in an unusual way. One day his acquaintance, a Buddhist, took a pectoral image of Theotokos of Vladimir, and his hand immediately became wet and started trembling strongly. The witnesses of the event have been unable to explain it till present day. Husak has also witnessed a girl literary “freeze” for a long time in front of his icon at a Kyiv exhibit. “It is good if my works are of use for real believers,” the glyptics master rejoices.
FROM BIG THINGS TO SMALL. AND THE FABERGE ORDER
The 54-year-old Hryhorii Husak started with big sculptures, but gradually he became fonder of smaller forms, and in the late 1990s moved to miniature and microminiature carving. He says he was inspired by old masters’ works he saw in museums, like the pieces created by Kyiv goldsmith Ivan Ravych of 17th-18th centuries and Kharkiv-based carver, priest Petro, as well as Scythian embellishments. He studied the medieval and antique stone-carving on his own, and mastered the technique without any teacher’s help. “It is simpler with small works, you can put them into a briefcase, and it is easier to organize an exhibit,” the self-taught artisan chuckles.
Most of Ukrainians got to know Husak’s mastery after his miniature icon “Christ Pantocrator” on precious citrine with amethysts entered the Book of Records of Ukraine. However, it was back in the 1990s that his works started winning prestigious prizes and awards, first places and diplomas at international jewelry exhibits, and famous people purchased them. And in autumn 2012 his talent won recognition of the Karl Faberge Memorial Foundation, which awarded Husak with the Faberge Order for his high-level technique of glyptics. At the moment he is a member of the foundation and can recommend other masters for awards and for their works to be included in catalogues. In particular, he has recommended to the foundation another four skilled artisans from Kharkiv, who work on a world level.