Kyiv. Ya Gallery

The Island

17.07.2019 – 02.09.2019

The Island exhibition project is devoted to Ada Rybachuk's and Volodymyr Melnychenko's children's illustration. It dates back to the 1950s-1980s and holds a special place not only in the oeuvre of the artistic duet but in the Ukrainian art heritage as well. Ada and Volodymyr used various techniques (from appliqué to linocut) and relied on expressive color solutions that astonish the modern illustrators and painters to this day. Every book they worked on has its own story laconically embodying the confrontation between the need in the artistic self-expression and the governmental control over the arts.

Exhibition Kyiv Ya Gallery
Schedule: 10.00-19.00

The Island exhibition project is devoted to Ada Rybachuk's and Volodymyr Melnychenko's children's illustration. It dates back to the 1950s-1980s and holds a special place not only in the oeuvre of the artistic duet but in the Ukrainian art heritage as well. Ada and Volodymyr used various techniques (from appliqué to linocut) and relied on expressive color solutions that astonish the modern illustrators and painters to this day. Every book they worked on has its own story laconically embodying the confrontation between the need in the artistic self-expression and the governmental control over the arts.

The artists — Volodymyr and Ada — became a duet while studying at oil painting department at the Kyiv Art Institute (1951–1957), although they already knew each other before. They started illustrating books when they were students. Despite the fact that only Ada had orders for book designs at first, they usually worked together. Their style was significantly influenced by their visit to Naryan-Mar, Nenets Autonomous District in Russia, Kolguyev Island, and the Kara Sea. The artists opened the first regional museum in Naryan-Mar on September 27, 1959 by giving their graduation works to local citizens. On the same day, the article The Art Doesn't Stand the Hype came out criticizing the duets' works as 'formalist' and the artists were called 'Boychukists' successors.' It became much harder for Volodymyr and Ada to cooperate with publishers since then. For instance, the conditions for the illustration of Joaquín Gutiérrez's Cocorí were very strict: Volodymyr and Ada had only 10 days to prepare the book design. Even though the artists did it on time, the book was never approved for publishing. One of the reasons was the 'improperly-shaped head of the girl' who was depicted beside the main character – the boy Cocorí.The title of the exhibition project relates to the artists' activity in Kolguyev Island (Nenets Autonomous District) where Ada and Volodymyr painted pictures with the pupils of a local school. The Island is a metaphor of duet's trying to comprehend the childhood and at the same time represents the artists' isolation at the time of art censorship. However, as Ada recollected, there is a blue hill (a small round-shaped mountain) in the center of that island which is called Sayak-Sede — the Big Heart. And our goal today is to build bridges to such islands.

The title of the exhibition project relates to the artists' activity in Kolguyev Island (Nenets Autonomous District) where Ada and Volodymyr painted pictures with the pupils of a local school. The Island is a metaphor of duet's trying to comprehend the childhood and at the same time represents the artists' isolation at the time of art censorship. However, as Ada recollected, there is a blue hill (a small round-shaped mountain) in the center of that island which is called Sayak-Sede — the Big Heart. And our goal today is to build bridges to such islands.


Polina Baitsym

project curator