The Louvre Welcomes Johann Georg Pinsel

Culture & Science
23 November 2012, 14:28

Opening the exhibition of the works of Johann Pinsel, a master of Ukrainian baroque sculpture, Guilhem Scherf, the commissioner of the exhibition and Head of Department of Sculptures at the Louvre explained that: “We are exhibiting the sculptures in the former royal chapel, which was built in the 17th century.

The atmosphere and overall spirit of the premises ideally suit these wonderful sculptures. As a rule, we do not open the windows during exhibitions: the bright sunshine can harm paintings, but this is not the case with sculptures. This exceptional situation is only for the best.”

The exhibition of the renowned Ukrainian artist in the Louvre is also an exception. This is the first cooperation between the museum that is well-known throughout the world and Ukraine. “This event has been in the making for three years,”  explained Scherf. “One of my friends, a French businessman, who was working in Lviv at that time, visited me, told me about Johann Pinsel and showed me reproductions of his work…”

The Ukrainian Week tried to discover the name of the foreign benefactor from Scherf, but failed. The Head of the Department of Sculptures hesitated for a moment, but refused: “I cannot do this without the approval of this person. And he is not looking for glory for himself.”

Oleh Pinchuk, sculptor and coordinator of restorative work, willingly spoke with journalists. “Just about all sculptures require restoration. This was very fine and demanding work, requiring exceptional craftsmanship,” he said.

The commissioner of the exhibition noted that “the cultural event would never have taken place without the heroic efforts of Borys Voznytsky, who has been collecting and saving the masterpieces of Johann Pinsel since the 1960s. The art critic and former Director of the Lviv Art Gallery died tragically in a car accident in May, 2012. The exhibition was thus dedicated to his memory. Borys Voznytsky’s daughter, Larysa, attended the opening of the exhibition. She left early, just after the arrival of Mykhaylo Kulyniak, the Minister of Culture of Ukraine, possibly because of the painful circumstances.

Kulyniak also liked the mention made by Scherf of the exception made to open the windows. He stated that “this will allow Pinsel to see the extent to which the Louvre values his works”, and also alluded to the window to Europe, which the Pinsel exhibition had carved out for Ukraine.

However, the next Ukrainian-French artistic event will only take place in two years. It will be in Marseilles, not the Louvre, and will be dedicated to the art of Odesa. It’s not as if Ukraine doesn’t have anything with which to surprise the world. But as Guilhem Scherf accurately stated: “Each art exhibition is a chain of successful meetings”. In the case of the Pinsel masterpieces, the chain has come together successfully, only time will tell if it will continue to grow with future exhibitions.

Tibo Brutten, an employee of the Louvre’s Promotion Department, told The Ukrainian Week that the museum plans to expand its collection of work from Central and Eastern Europe. “More specifically, we shall be buying orthodox icons – Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian…” This project is in the early stages, but we don’t know when the new collection will be ready for viewing.

Ukrainian windows are only beginning to be found in the mass of Ukrainian masterpieces. These first rays of light, attention and interest are still an exception. A lot of work is needed for this exception to become the norm for cultural cooperation, and in time, for the norm to become a positive, stable tradition.


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