On March 5, within the framework of preparations for celebration of Kobzar’s 200th birth anniversary and the Maximilian Voloshin House-Museum 100th anniversary, the Taras Shevchenko National Museum in Kyiv is launching an exhibit “Watercolors by Taras Shevchenko and Maximilian Voloshin.” Representatives of different cultures, the two artists lived and created in different styles. Admirers of Shevchenko and Voloshin hardly think about what the two artists had in common. “Both classics were greatly talented poets and artists,” the head of the Koktebel-based Maximilian Voloshin House-Museum Natalia MIROSHNYCHENKO notes, “They are close due to common spiritual exploration, as well as common theme and motifs of their art work.”
Presenting the watercolors of both artists at one exhibit has been a long-time desire of the scholars of the museums based in Kyiv and in Koktebel, which has finally come true. The connoisseurs of the oeuvre of both artists can receive the evidence of definite likeness of the artistic images. For the first time in existence of the Voloshin House-Museum and the National Taras Shevchenko Museum about 70 watercolors of both artists will be simultaneously on display, in one and the same hall.
Maximilian Voloshin, who was born in Kyiv and had Ukrainian roots, is an integral part of Ukrainian and Russian cultures. He became a singer of the ancient country Cimmeria, which was once located in the eastern part of the Crimean peninsula, glorifying it in entire world with the help of watercolors and verse.
Taras Shevchenko is a significant figure in Ukrainian culture. While in exile, he was among the first to depict Kazakhstan’s landscapes in painting. In spite of the ban, the Ukrainian poet secretly continued to “embroider white letters,” describing in verse the pictures of Ukraine, dear to his heart, and at times comparing it to the land where he was serving his sentence. The lines describing Kazakhstan correlate with watercolors: they supplement the visual images with words. One can see a similar thing in Voloshin’s oeuvre: he liked to sign his watercolors with poetic lines.
“Voloshin created a kind of duo of ‘an inscription on the watercolor’ and the watercolor itself, where the picture was viewed as an accompaniment to poetry,” Miroshnychenko noted. “On his letter to artist Obolenska he writes, ‘I am against parallelism in art. One should look for symphonic, not unison combination.’ The verse does not fully recreate the landscape he depicted, but they are connected with the image by common atmosphere.”
The circumstances in which the artists created their watercolors differed. Shevchenko, who took part in scientific expeditions, depicted the views of the Aral Sea and Karatau Mountains in a documentarily precise manner. One can say he created the portrait of the land, looking at it intently, observing, and finding peculiarities of the Caspian Sea. Fifty years later Voloshin would look intently at the landscapes of this land, after going into voluntary exile, to explore of the route of the Orenburg-Tashkent railway. In October 1900 he wrote in a letter to Kandaurov: “…long processions of camels in the background of Karatau mountains, showing blue, very much resemble from afar the broken arches of Rome water supply systems.” Voloshin did not paint his Cimmeria from nature, rather from his imagination, creating, as he said, “musical-colorful compositions dedicated to Cimmerian landscapes.” The landscapes of Koktebel and its vicinity, like Mangyshlak and Aral, are most often depicted as desert, almost uninhabited land. The sea, the mountains, trees, and clouds – all these natural forms give a variety of combinations and represent the specific beauty of Eastern Crimea and Middle East.
The watercolor landscapes by Shevchenko and Voloshin, although being different in terms of style and creative methods, still have something in common. The secret is about the nature. Eastern Crimea and Caspian region, depicted by the artists, are located in the same latitude of the globe, thus having similar vegetation and relief.
One of the goals of the exhibit is to give an impetus to the audience to take the books and albums by Taras Shevchenko and Maximilian Voloshin and get to know closer the literary and artistic oeuvre of these outstanding personalities.