Executed Renaissance: Mykhailo Boychuk, Ivan Padalka, Vasyl Sedlyar
Weloveua finishing materials cycle dedicated to prominent figures Executed Renaissance epoch. Previous materials were about writers, today we will focus on the Ukrainian artists of that period.
Mykhailo Boychuk (1882 – 1937) – an Ukrainian painter, most commonly known as a monumentalist, whose paints were based on national traditions.
Boychuk was born in Romanivka, then in Austria-Hungary, and currently in Ternopil Region of Ukraine.
In 1898 he moved to Lviv, where became icon-painter. Soon his talent was noticed, and thanks to financial support of Maecenas young man received a good education in the European academies of arts in Vienna, Krakow and Munich. In 1908-1910 he worked in Paris, where he met with Pablo Picasso. Upon returning to the city, he worked at the National Museum, restoring and creating icons and painting church interiors.
Since 1917 Mykhailo Boychuk lived in Kiev. On that time he worked on the paintings of St. Sophia Cathedral. He became one of the founders of the Ukrainian State Academy of Arts, where he taught fresco and mosaic, and in 1920 was a rector. Besides he closely worked with theater director Les Kurbas, making the design for some of his productions.
Mykhailo joined is talent with teaching. His followers, whose often called “boychukisty” in 1920-30 were confident Ukrainian culture all over the world. Boychuk thought that one person should combine the artist and master talents. At the time, he already performed a number of high-profile monumental works, and formed a school of monumental painters which existed until his death. However, the idea of development of Ukrainian art was at odds with the Bolshevik “socialist culture”.
In 1926-27 in the company of his pupils Padalka and Sedlyar Boychuk travaled in Europe. Because of this he was arrested for suspicion of being involved in counter-revolutionary activities. Together with some his followers in 1936 he was arrested by NKVD. During the Great Purge, the Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine was disestablished, and Boychuk was executed. His wife, Sofiia Nalepinska, also an artist, was executed several months after him.
In 1958 Boychuk was exonerated for lack of evidence, but his own and his students’ works were resisted harassment, and were considered ideologically harmful till to the collapse of the Union. Works after long-term storage in the museum archives were exhibited only after Ukraine gained independence.
Ivan Padalka (1894 – 1937) was born in a large peasant family in the Poltava Region. In 1910-12 he studied at the Art and Design School in Myrgorod, but he was expelled for his revolutionary views. Then he studied at the Art School and the Ukrainian State Academy of Arts in Kiev.
Speaking about Padalka’s works, it should be noted that he was Mykhaylo Boychuk’s pupil. According to researchers, his works including a combination of an old Ukrainian professional and folk art. Apart of paintings, drawings and engravings Padalka worked on illustrations for famous Ukrainian books, as well as children’s literature.
In 1920-30 Ivan Padalka’s paintings were exhibited in all major cities of the USSR and in many European and African countries.
In the first half of the 1920s, he taught painting at several colleges. Later, before his arrest, he taught at the Kharkiv and Kiev Art Institute. At the lectures he often used the word “Ukraine”, “Ukrainian art”, etc., which the authorities considered unacceptable.
In 1936, professor and painter was arrested as an “enemy of the people” and accused of involvement in the counterrevolutionary organization. Under prolonged torture he admitted all the accusations. In 1937 he was shot. He was rehabilitated in 1958.
Unfortunately, most of the works was destroyed in 1930, but more than fifty paintings by Ivan Padalka now stored in various museums in Kyiv and Ukraine.
Vasyl Sedlyar (1899 – 1937) was born in Poltava in the simple peasant Ukrainian family. He graduated the Art Institute and the Ukrainian State Academy of Arts. As Ivan Padalko he was a pupil of Mykhaylo Boychuk.
In 1923-30 tought at Mezhigorskaya Art and Technology College and the Institute of Ceramics and Glass. During this period, he painted one of the most famous works – the picture “Executing in Mezhyhirya,” which tells about the murders Ukrainians by Denikin’s army.
In 1930-36 tought at the Kiev Art Institute.
The primary Sedlyar’s work calls the illustrations for “Kobzar” by Taras Shevchenko – in 1929-31 years he and his colleagues created the 54 images that immediately aroused admiration at the domestic and foreign media. According to critics, the drawings were made in a manner close to the folk that are completely different from the style of previous illustrators. Unfortunately, as the publication, and original works were destroyed by the Bolsheviks (books preserved in single copies in private hands). In 2011 was made a new edition of “Kobzar” with illustrations by Vasyl Teofanovych.
In 1926-27 he studied world art history that is why traveled in Germany, France and Czechoslovakia.
In 1936, he was arrested after the arrests of his fellow artists Mykhaylo Boychuk and Ivan Padalko. He was accused of involvement in nationalist terrorist organization and conspiracy against the leaders of the republic. Under torture, the artist was forced to admit guilt. In 1937, he was executed together with his friends and the other defendants in Kiev in NKVD prison.
He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1958, although his name was permanently deleted from the history of Ukrainian culture. Note that the first solo exhibition of Sedlyar’s works has gone through many years after his death – in the year of its 110th anniversary in 2009.