Mykola Rapai presented 33 works devoted to evangelic plots and four sculpture portraits of apostles. This exhibit of the master has become a revelation even for his closest friends.
“Touching the Mystery” is the joy of unhurried contemplation. Figures of the apostles and women who brought anointments to Christ’s tomb in blue, rosy, golden, and green clothes; Christ in white clothing…
“The series of biblical plots is the result of reading the Gospels, my vision and understanding of how to depict the evangelic events and Christ’s life,” Mykola RAPAI told The Day, “While I was reading, I made sketches with colored pencils, contemplated, taking into account that those were Biblical times (early first century). The time was very severe, only in the palaces of kings there was unbelievable luxury, and terrible poverty reigned around. I observed Bedouins in the Judaean Desert: they are draped in cloth, and their faces are almost totally covered for protection against winds and sand. I saw African Bedouins, the amazing tribe of Tuaregs, riding camels. I thought that was how the Biblical people from Christ’s surrounding should look like. There are no descriptions of how they looked like, so I completely draped them in cloth, making a general image, and hid their faces. I built the composition based only on plastic positions of conditional figures who behave according to the plot.
“At that time people wore colorful clothes: this is present on the first Christian pictures, early Ravenna mosaics; pompousness and bravura of color was also typical of Rome, and Renaissance makes an emphasis on this. The feeling of joy and escalation is very important for me. The Gospels are a simple text about the spiritual human qualities, which constitute the value of a person. And Christ told about this in a simple and lucid way. I’ve reread and comprehended it, but the mystery remains.”
“Mykola Rapai is one of the most famous artists these days. The latest cycle of his works is a kind of search for God,” Liudmyla SKYRDA, a poetess, culture expert, shared her impressions. “The biblical theme is an unfading tradition in the world painting. It has been exiting and will continue to excite people, because this is the problem of spiritual realization of a person.
“Rapai’s evangelic series impresses with its novelty and shows that a person can live in a spiritual equilibrium. This is an absolutely personal, heartfelt state of soul which leads to God not in the minutes of helplessness or need for support, but in the minutes of harmonic state of soul, when life is rich with content, and everything is on its own place: friends, children, criticism, and creative work. In this state the artist goes to God and starts a dialogue with Him. There is a hidden meaning in the pastel colors, pacification of conditional figures, and it is shown as mystery, which is extremely attractive and important. This is a mystery everyone should reveal for themselves by their entire life.”
“Rapai is fond of the art of early Renaissance – Giotto, Piero della Francesco, Fra Beato Angelico, but he does not allude to them: the biblical topics have been comprehended and interpreted in a new way,” artist Mykola Kompanets considers, “His works are spiritual and one can imagine the way those people looked like. Certain characteristics are present in the wonderful plastics, built not on concrete images, but on unrevealed mystery. There is a well thought out color rhythms and at the same time justified tint density of some plots, every work is harmonized. I say to my students: ‘Three values of artistic merit must be present in an artwork: aesthetics, spirituality, and form.’ All of this is present in Rapai’s works. He has gotten imbued with biblical themes. I can feel that the artist grew up in the nature: you can find such feeling of harmony only in the works of a person who was raised by the nature, therefore he will never allow any falsehood.”
“Rapai and I have known each other since the time of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,” Larysa KADOCHNYKOVA, actress of the Lesia Ukrainka Theater of Russian Drama, admitted. “Rapai was a close friend of film director Sergei Parajanov, who very much loved and appreciated the work of the sculptor. We made friends, and I came to his studio at various moments of my life. When I started to paint, Rapai strongly supported. I would say that his second profession is confessor, a person with whom one can share the innermost things: he will advise something and encourage. This exhibit indicates that Rapai has risen above all small things of life and routine problems. Rapai is a beautiful and light person, who radiates warmth and love to people, and his pictures are charged with light, warmth, and kindness.”
“Rapai’s sculptures are high classics. The exhibit presents very strong works, both graphics and painting. Jesus Walking on Water impressed me, simply turned my self upside down. I was emotionally ready to shout and cry, so strong feeling it conveys is,” artist Borys YEHIAZARIAN does not hide his emotions. “There are works on the topic Christ’s Sermon – at the Lake of Gennesaret, on the mountain, in a synagogue. In my opinion, every picture here is a sermon (according the power of its impact on the viewers). Every work has such an emotionally strong inner dynamics that you become a sculpture in front of every picture: you turn into stone, peer into it, and an inner spiritual contact takes place.”