“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

Born in 1909, Maria Prymachenko spent her long life in a Ukrainian village with the humble name of Bolotniya, which means marsh or swamp. As a girl she came down with polio, which interfered with her schooling and left her with a painful limp. But her vivid imagination and irrepressible use of color made her a giant in the Ukrainian art world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the limitations she encountered.

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko mythical beast at Kiev’s Art Arsenal’s retrospective of her work

Her fantastical paintings of imaginary beasts, birds, flowers and ordinary villagers doing everyday things brightened the walls of Kiev’s Art Arsenal earlier this year in a first-ever retrospective of more than 300 of her works.

The fact that she painted from her imagination went against the Soviet view that art was a tool to teach about socialism. This made her subversive in her own private way. Her Ukrainian motifs taken from embroidery and decorative arts revealed her as a nationalist as well.

Luba next to a Maria Prymachenko painting on her visit to Kiev’s Art Arsenal's retrospective of the artist's work

Luba with a Maria Prymachenko painting at Kiev’s Art Arsenal’s retrospective of the artist’s work

Luba Rudenko, director of MIR’s affiliate office in Kiev, visited the exhibition twice, and sent us photos of some of Prymachenko’s “naïve” art. She reported that the halls were crowded with parents and children smiling to see the primitive images.

Luba feels that the reason Prymachenko is so popular is that “her art has a very strong link to her personal life full of her own fantasies, love and wisdom, as well as to ancient crafts based on the deep-rooted culture and folk art of the Ukrainian people.”

Check out more of here.

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting of bears raiding a beehive at a retrospective of her work

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting in Kiev’s Art Arsenal

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko corncob bird

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting featured in Kiev’s Art Arsenal’s retrospective of her work

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko bird eating berries

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting of horses and flowers

A photo of a Maria Prymachenko painting

A photo of Maria Prymachenko’s 1936 painting, “Cossack Beyond the Danube” at her retrospective in Kiev

Travel to Ukraine with MIR

MIR has nearly 30 years of travel experience in Ukraine and has an affiliate office in Kiev. We have a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” 

You can experience the beauty and rich folk traditions of Ukraine on MIR’s small group tour, Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova, or on the private itinerary, Essential Ukraine.  You can also create your own Ukrainian exploration with the help of our custom & private specialists. 

Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-111-111-1111 to start planning your travels today.

Top photo: The “naive” art of Maria Prymachenko. Photo credit: Luba Rudenko

PUBLISHED: April 19, 2016

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