Dnipropetrovsk. Ya Gallery Art Center
21.06.2013 – 25.07.2013
"Prypovidky" (further: proverbs) is a concept that, in Western Ukraine, describes such types of folklore as proverbs and sayings. Brief, figurative and rhythmical philosophic aphorisms, expressed by people with irony and sarcasm. Filled with deep meaning, they are wise judgements, confined to one short and succinct phrase. The point, the essential, the selected.
Proverbs are generally perceived as stable text elements. We use these phrases in our conversations as if automatically - without visualizing or consideration. Let's take, for example, the saying "to the tree devils" (English equivalent: "to hell"). I only recently realized that it deals with devils, with three of them, in fact. And because of this they become even more symbolic. That's why visualizing proverbs, seeing them as a plot, not only text, was so unexpected and interesting for me. And their plots, as it turned out, can be strange and ambiguous.
Proverbs are short parables, and this project is, in its essence, illustrations to them. I tried to regard proverbs as a screenplay of sorts. This doesn't exclude its moral component, on the contrary - it should highlight its ideological significance. Meaning that the picture must serve as an addition to the text and encourage its most thorough comprehension, and the text will remain the main element of the visual.
Proverbs is one of the most ancient folklore genres. These are text symbols passed on by many generations. We, for instance, use the same sayings as our ancestors did many centuries ago, before the advent of writing. They contain elements of the ancient worldview, religion and magic.
In our days, as well as in the ancient times, proverbs are frequently used in speech regardless of population category, age or social status. Though these phrases have come to us from ancient times, they don't lose their relevance and content, for they are succinct thoughts, that are, moreover, easily adapted, transformed and can acquire a new meaning.
Andriy Khir, 2013
Andriy Khir is alone on the "stylistic orbit". He is not like any other, unexpected, unmatched. The artist proclaims that he illustrates Ukrainian proverbs, so the viewer instantly imagines chamber folk-themed illustrations with all the traditional attributes of Ukrainian everyday life. Though here he would face something completely different - an otherworldly secret universe with ancient superstitions and a peculiar sense of humor - a world simultaneously archaic and modern.
The biggest surprise is the author's use of monumental sizes and creating large series. On the long pannos in olive and black colors stand phantasmagoric characters of human, animalistic and floral origin: fabulous riders and dog-headed creatures, strange birds and whimsical plants, underground shaggy or scaly creatures that inhabit the swamps - honed and tailed. They originate in the artist's imagination, and at the same time in the world of Ukrainian demonology and are associated with ancient religious beliefs.
This combination of the immersed in archaic layers of folk worldview and its modern original interpretations deny Khir's works the significance of simple illustrated commentary. The author's works line into independent easel cycles where the plot of the image and the text mutually complement each other. The author uses the flexibility of elastic lines and silhouettes as if embroidering, stringing images to the canvas. Such associations aren't accidental, because embroidery is present in these works: text of the proverbs is embroidered directly on the images at the top of the canvas over the characters. The artist leisurely inflates our curiosity, writing out all the small details, highlighting the night sky with white drops of the moon and the stars, rhythmically decorating pieces of the surfaces with geometric ornaments. Frontal ornaments don't repeat the dimensional curves of the figures - just as it is in ancient Ukrainian paintings, that are designed based on the combination of flat and voluminous, real and conditional, spacial effects with planar decor.
Andriy Khir prefers narrow vertical compositions, draws oval frames - to "capture" the evil spirits in close "pits". And this way to calm the viewer - these creatures are harmless. The author chooses the colors of the night as a symbol of the other world, scares us with terrifying demonic characters and demonic suggestion. However, as expected in the folk tradition, he translates scary into fairy, fights fears with the power of national spirit and bright humor, mocks and laughs, emphasizing the animal in the human, and the human in the animal.
Olena Hodenko-Nakonechna, art critic