Parajanov, 70s Art and Contemporary Music

Culture & Science
5 October 2013, 15:15

The Shadows of Parajanov 

On October 3, one of the most eagerly awaited Ukrainian films, Parajanov, is being released on the big screens in Ukraine after a nomination for an Academy Award and presentation at the film festivals in Karlovy Vary and Odesa. Directed by Serge Avedikian (France) and Olena Fetisova (Ukraine), Parajanov is an explosive fusion of the past achievements, current opportunities and optimistic expectations of Ukrainian cinematography. The government provided financial support for the project and there is no question about this: it was a well-thought out project about a great artist whom people know and love. However, the way the project was carried out does raise some questions.

From the very beginning, the directors wanted to grasp every aspect of Parajanov as an artist and a person in this film. They started with the filming of The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors which he directed in 1964 and went all the way to 1990, when he died. The story includes his life in Kyiv, shooting in the Carpathians, his time in Yerevan, his arrest and imprisonment, and the making of The Legend of Suram Fortress in Georgia. It also has scenes with Marcello Mastroianni and Andrey Tarkovsky, scandals at film studios and Parajanov’s relation with his wife and son. As a result, the life of the genius that was full of endless events, new people and contemplations about him is squeezed into the 95 minutes of the film, giving the impression of life through a kaleidoscope. It is more of a retrospective account of the major moments in his life. Meanwhile, each of them could well be developed into a separate drama or surrealistic comedy or tragedy. The fact that the film did not go into greater detail on any one aspect, and the lack of a climax that would focus the the attention of the audience on strong emotions, seems to be the major flaw of the film.

Still, the professional acting of Serge Avedikian as Parajanov, the talented camerawork by Serhiy Mykhalchuk and the skilful crew compensate for some of the film’s flaws.


2-9 October , 12 p.m.

Foreign Body

M17 Contemporary Art Centre (104, vul. Horkoho, Kyiv)

All art lovers have the unique opportunity to see paintings by well-known Austrian artist, Wolfgang Walkensteiner. His personal exhibition will only be in Kyiv for seven days. The painter chose one of the oldest techniques for his artwork, using egg tempera paint. Tempera is one of the most long-lasting and high-quality materials. Its pigment does not fade in sunlight. The artist’s other original technique is the details cut out of some of his paintings and layered onto others. 


From 10 October

New German Movies

Kyiv cinema (19, vul. Velyka Vasylkivska, Kyiv)

The audience will see a selection of the best German contemporary films at the New German Movies festival. The programme of the 19th festival includes five films in different genres. Oh Boy, a tragic comedy, shows the life of the careless Niko, whose inertness leads to very sad consequences. Hannah Arendt, a historical film, reflects on the life and views of the well-known German-Jewish activist. Die Brücke am Ibar (The Bridge over Ibar) offers an emotional love story set in Kosovo during the civil war.


11-13 October

Iron Lion
Arsenalna Ploshcha
(downtown Lviv)

Another one of Lviv’s good traditions: it will once again host the annual open air blacksmiths’ festival. It attracts the best craftsmen from all over Ukraine to show their physical strength, talent and delicate skills. Visitors will see blacksmithing from the past century and have the opportunity to try smithing something of their own. It is hard to believe how the bulky furnace, hammer and anvil help blacksmiths to turn lumps of iron into masterpieces. Yet, that is what visitors will see in Lviv.


Through 13 October

The Days of Myroslav Skoryk’s Music

National Opera House, National Philharmonic and other venues (50, vul.Volodymyrska; 2, Volodymyrskyi Uzviz, Kyiv)

The international music festival is dedicated to the 75thbirthday of the legendary composer and founder of the contemporary Ukrainian school of composition, Myroslav Skoryk. The concerts will last through mid-October. Top musicians from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, the USA and Switzerland will play his pieces on Kyiv’s major music stages. In addition to his well-known Melody which some consider to be Ukraine’s spiritual anthem, the programme contains many more of his pieces. Myroslav Skoryk will play some of them himself, accompanied by an orchestra.


13 October, 9 p.m.


DockerPub (25, vul. Bohatyrska, Kyiv)

The British rock band will play a concert in Ukraine that is a fusion of heavy metal, art rock and jazz rock. The voice of its lead singer, Bernie Shaw, is the band’s trademark element, while the hit song Lady in Black remains a favourite. The band has recorded more than twenty albums and played hundreds of concerts all over the world. After forty years on stage, Uriah Heep has become a classic of hard rock, many of their albums topping the music charts.


Through 18 October


Lviv Oblast Philharmonic (7, vul. Tchaikovskoho, Lviv)

Lviv is hosting the 19th international contemporary music festival that kicked off at the end of September. This year, it is more diverse than ever. From George Antheil to Valentin Bibik, from mono to flute operas, from guitar music to Nina Matvienko’s angelic voice – this is all part of the 19th Contrasts. A concert of music from different epochs entitled From Classics to Modern Day will be a new addition to the festival programme. Performershave come from Spain, Poland, Canada, Hungary, Germany and Malta to play on the Lviv stage.


The Kunstkamera of the Epoch

The National Art Museum of Ukraine continues to reveal unknown aspects of 20th century Ukrainian art. The exhibition, Quiet Protest of the 1970s, presents little-known artwork by painters of that time, who opted for European art traditions, rather than the prevalent ideological Social Realism. Over 120 pieces by twenty painters from private collections reveal the mysterious underground world of the Brezhnev era – the time of alternative exhibitions and cultural adventures. This show consists of three parts, each mirroring its epoch in collective portraits: of industrial society, everyday life and artists.

Art critics claim that Ukrainian painters of the 1970s have much in common with European modernist painters on the verge of the 19th and 20th centuries. Both opposed aggressive society with individualism, segregating artistic life from everyday routine, and turning to mythological and folklore images. Both experimented with techniques. Anatoliy Lymar’s paintings have traces of Van Gogh, Yuriy Zorko has elements of Cezanne, Viktor Zaretskyi has some details in common with Matisse. The paintings of the 1970s reflect their dim epoch through unconventional, almost mystical prisms, vibrant colours and edgy rhythms. The images inspire multiple interpretations.

Anatoliy Lymarev runs counter to the schematic Social Realism and paints the workers’ work-worn hands and faces uncompromisingly clearly. Painter Serhiy Otroshchenko looks like a Gulag prisoner with his head held high in Mykhailo Vanshtein’s portrait. The Quiet Protest is the kunstkamera of its epoch: it does not hesitate to show nude bodies, Petro Belenko’s “panic realism”, a still life with a skull and a microscope, and artists’ workshops with replicas of icons and Diego Velazquez hanging on the walls. The Seventies was a phenomenon of those who treaded their path quietly by refusing to follow established rules. Today, the paintings that were once created for closed private rooms are displayed at the central museum.

This is the National Museum’s second big step towards the revival of Ukraine’s contemporary art history. It is a long time since ideological pressure has disappeared, but actual reforms in museums have only just started, as nearly 100 paintings and sculptures created from the 1960s through the 2000s fill its halls.

The exhibition is open through October 20 at 6, vul. Hrushevskoho in Kyiv.

Petro Belenok  founder of the “panic realism” school

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