The art of Ivan Marchuk – one of Ukraine’s most prominent artist, are all over the world, in every continent. He considers himself to be a different kind of artist, and dreams of having his own workshop-museum, while continuing his “pliontanism” on canvas.
Ivan Marchuk just celebrated his 80th birthday in May 2016! He is one of the most recognized artists around the globe, known for his individual technique and different style of art.
Many international art curators tried to figure out the secret of Marchuk’s phenomenon and his magnificent talent. The impact of his paintings have dramatic effect of 25 fast frames, and in addition to landscapes and portraits, Marchuk creates paintings based on subconscious mind.
Ivan Marchuk invented a completely original technique called “pliontanism” (from the Ukrainian word “pliontaty,” meaning to weave, knit), balancing man-made and technological limits, ‘weaverism,’ which is an intricate technique involving the ‘dabbing-on’ of paint, tracing and weaving amazing lace art-work on canvas.
The artist presents his work in 12 creative series, some of which include: “Voice of My Soul,” “Landscape,” “White Planet 1,” “White Planet 2,” “Still Life,” “New Expressions,” and “A Glance into Infinity.”
In 2007, Britain’s “Daily Telegraph” newspaper included Ivan Marchuk on their list of “100 Living Geniuses.” He is also the only Ukrainian admitted to the prestigious “Golden Guild” Academy of Contemporary Art in Rome.
What are you working on today? Please tell us about your extensive retrospective exhibition “Genotype of Freedom,” which opened in May at the Odesa Art Museum.
It’s my anniversary exhibition. This exhibit includes approximately one hundred paintings that were selected from six of my creative series, displaying a wide artistic range: from the philosophical perceptive of “Voice of My Soul,” to still life, and hyperreal landscapes and abstracts of “White Planet 1,” and “White Planet 2,” as well as surrealism in “A Glance into Infinity.” The bulk of the collection has been displayed before, mainly abroad, in the last few years – in Lithuania, Germany, Poland…
In previous interviews, you have repeatedly stated that the art industry in Ukraine is not developed. What needs to take place in order to evolve?
Ukraine produces the greatest amount of talent per square meter in the world. Our country must be proud, however, these geniuses need to be nurtured, like flowers. They will wither, so they need to be watered. In any field, talent is bound to occur because it is God’s gift, which is loaned to man, who must then offer it to mankind.
Is this how Ivan Marchuk’s work continues?
What I do is unique – no one else does it. I’m not saying that what I do is better than others, but it’s just different. The world wants to see more of unique art.
How did the “pliontanism” technique start and what are its characteristics?
In a second I can do fifty movements – this technique requires speed. The word “pliontaty” I took from my mother. I had three sisters with long hair. On Saturday or on Sunday, my mother would wash their hair, she would often say to the girls: “Well, then, ‘zapliontalys’ braids, so you can’t comb them.” From then on, I began to ‘pliontaty,’ but on my own canvases.
At the end of 1980s you emigrated to Australia, then to Canada and to the U.S.A. Please tell us about your artistry abroad.
America that sheltered an artist, at the time when this artist was on the periphery. I traveled to U.S.A. to heal the wounds inflicted on me during the “Soviet Era.” New York was a dream of mine since my childhood, but it took me 45 years to get there. A large metropolis, with many languages and dark sides, but it was home for all types of creative and eccentric people gathering together, each one bringing their own talent to the table. In New York, everyone is an individualist.
Most importantly, in the U.S.A. I didn’t have any negative emotions. My favorite pastime in America is exploring art galleries. Within a week’s time, I could visit 15 exhibitions. I also enjoyed to spend my time in a bookstore, especially in the art section, where I was able to browse books from all over the world.
Another paradise for me was Australia, where I did not belong to any spheres of influence. I wasn’t looking for work because I was a free artist. In Australia, I proved to myself that I can live very well anywhere I desire. All I have to do is use my hands, and do what I know best. Canada was a bit low pace country for me, but it was especially good for recreation.
Mr. Marchuk, please share with us, is there something that you could not, or did not have time to accomplish, but would like to make up for in a near future?
Yes, I have a dream, I’d like to meet a wonderful woman, to share my life with. I was always painting, all my life, and I didn’t have much time for anything else. And so I painted, “As Time Flows,” “Passage of Time”…
But, seriously, I often dream to own my own workshop.
Where does your inspiration come from for your magnificent landscapes?
I’m not an urbanist, but when I leave the big city for my regular call of nature, and I discover all this beauty… I can’t explain it, but my hand begins to paint by itself. Ukraine has extremely beautiful scenery, and that helped produce “Christmas Night,” and “Magic Moonlit Night …”
If you’re asking about my series of work, then “Voice of My Soul” – is the basis, as a tree trunk, which allows for the branches – “Landscape,” “Blossom,” “Colorful Preludes,” “Portrait,” “New Expressions,” “Still Life” and various kinds of abstracts. And, later on, I created a series: “Dreams Come Ashore,” “A Look into Infinity”…
Your daughter, Bohdana Pivnenko, as we all know, she’s a well-known Ukrainian violinist, recognized for her distinct skills, and called “Paganini in a skirt.” How does music affect your work?
My daughter is like that justification of my resume that one visitor gave me at my first art exhibition in Moscow. After viewing the paintings, she wrote in the guest book that she thinks I had a very serious musical education. But in reality, I can’t tell the difference from one note to the other. Bohdana compensated for it. I’m most impressed by her music interpretation of the Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk.
One talented Ukrainian designer sewed a dress inspired by your paintings. Did you ever consider to follow up in this direction, creating your own fashion line, based on your paintings?
There are certain painting in my collection that can be perfectly interpreted into some fashion statements. For example, men’s ties can look really edgy, or women’s scarves can make a beautiful accessory. It can be done.
It turns out that you never pursued money directly, and money was never your original foundation?
I can’t live without painting. I’m obsessed and insatiable with art. If you take even one of my paintings – it’s the same as cutting off my finger. I would immediately feel that something is missing. But I do know for certain that my work should be exposed, and of course there must be a movement, and then my work will continue to live.
How do you relax, recharge?
I love to visit Shevchenko park, where I adopted 2 crows. They became my friends and companions during my stroll around the park. As soon as I enter the park, they come to me and follow me. I also love to cook, my own original borscht, and tomato soup.
What does it mean to the artist, Ivan Marchuk to be in love, what kind of love is in your spirit, and how do you express it through your art?
To be in love means different things to different people. For exaple, for me, love varies, it can be visual or physical. One can gaze at the painting, and immediately initiate their personal quest for love.
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