Inspiration

A Banana Boat is Floating Down the Danube: Marharyta Bolhar’s Naïve Art

From peaceful life, Marharyta Bolhar has switched to reflecting the events of this war. But even though she is living through historical events, the artist from a village in the Kherson region remains attentive to the everyday stories of ordinary people.
Marharyta Bolhar

Ukrainian artist from the village of Velyki Kopani in the Kherson region. Elementary school teacher by training.

— My father Mykola Liliak worked as an artist for some time. He encouraged me to draw since I was a kid too. Throughout the schoolyears, first mine and then my daughter’s, I was always drawing or painting something for the school. I decorated my house with paintings too. So despite all kinds of obstacles, art remained with me always. At some point, it became an inseparable part of my thoughts, my days, and my goals.

For several years, I gained experience from the futuristic projects of Olena Afanasyeva, curator and director of the Totem cultural development center in Kherson. It was Afanasyeva who resuscitated my inspiration to create art and helped me believe in myself as an artist.

I can’t say I have any idols: after all, how can I only like a certain chosen few in the endless gallery of this big world? But I do sometimes get hung up on this or that artist. Say, Picasso grabbed me with his innovative approach: that’s what I wanted to do myself in the 2D series. I feel a connection with the artists who walked difficult paths: Kateryna Bilokur, Pelageya Rayko, Niko Pirosmani. It’s as if I could feel their pain and love for art. Last year, when I was in a museum in Kyiv, I got interested in Kostiantyn Trutovskyi.

I feel a connection with the artists who walked difficult paths.

I think there’s plenty of room for new talent in the Ukrainian naïve art. Although no matter what they say my status is, as an artist, my foremost goal is to represent my homeland and country.

Cottage Cheese Pies
A Banana Boat is Floating Down the Danube
The Three Graces
Whose Yacht?

Since 2014, I have strived to bear testimony to life. After all, I am living in the very heart of historical events. And since 24, I’ve been feeling as if someone put a helmet of nightmares on my head. To not go mad, I’ve found a cleansing ritual for myself: it’s a series called ZpS, which is reminiscent of the agony of despair.

I don’t paint to relieve stress now. My work is usually thought-out and thoroughly considered. Because time is sparse, I am very pedantic about how I choose ideas and bring them to life. I am prone to self-criticism, but it’s not self-chastising. Painting is my way to communicate with the world, and I am glad when it’s mutual. I want to listen to myself in the future, but external motivation is a very efficient driving force. And by that I mean the perception of myself as an intrinsic part of cultural space.

I don’t paint to relieve stress now. My work is usually thought-out and thoroughly considered.

An Easter Motive in Chornobaivka
Impossible to Go/Stay
Whose House?
Nine in the Basement
Crossroads
Vyshyvanka Day

In my opinion, our nation’s ‘cultural code’ includes its language, literature, music, and art throughout its existence, architecture, religion, Ukrainian folklore, and so on. All these things show who we are and why the world needs us.

Every country has its own ethnic groups, each with its own customs, beliefs, and language peculiarities formed over centuries. But I think this only enriches this ‘cultural code’ and signifies our liberalism and intellectual growth of the nation. We should accept that all of us are different and have the right to be different. But it’s culture’s role to unite us all and bring peace. Culture is crucial for state-building, and that is why it needs to be protected, respected, and funded.

It’s culture’s role to unite us all and bring peace. Culture is crucial for state-building.

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