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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Sep 15, 2006, 1:00 am ET

    Jacques Hnizdovsky...In Color and in Black & White

    Through August 27, 2006

    Ram Profile
    1969, woodcut
    21 x 14 3/5 in.
    Private collection.

    New York — The works of critically acclaimed painter and printmaker Jacques Hnizdovsky (1915-1985) will be on view at The Ukrainian Museum in New York City from June 11 to August 27, 2006. Titled Jacques Hnizdovsky...In Color and in Black & White, the exhibition showcases a body of work by the artist spanning a nearly fifty-year career that had its origins in Ukraine and culminated in the United States.

    1952, color linocut
    12 x 6 in.
    Private collection.

    The canvases and prints in the exhibition range from the early works produced prior to Hnizdovsky's arrival in the U.S., such as Displaced Persons (oil, 1948), to multiple examples of the superb woodcuts - the genre in which he was the most prolific. Included among the latter are the cherished rams, sheep, and depictions of still-life objects that often show traces of Hnizdovsky's subtle sense of humor.

    This show provides a rare glimpse into Hnizdovsky's mid-career, with a sampling of infrequently and never-before-exhibited works. The pieces are emblematic of a period that was most trying for the artist, both financially and spiritually, but that was also among his most creative ones. In Crucifixion (oil, 1955), traces of vivid red contrasting with the dark backdrop convey a sense of anguish and foreboding. Bondage (oil, 1961) echoes the somber mood, while the shadow in Darkness (oil, 1961) is juxtaposed against a ray of light, perhaps the portent of a brighter future. The colors and style in these early canvases reflect the influence of artists such as Albrecht Durer, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and El Greco and hint at the artist's roots in his native Borshchiv region of Ukraine, where traditional embroidery is characterized by deep, rich reds and burgundies framed in a lush, velvety black.

    Displaced Persons
    1948, oil on canvas
    30 x 55 in.
    UM collection.

    Supplementing the collection of paintings and prints is a charming display of original Hnizdovsky ex libris designs, terra-cotta works, and books illustrated by the artist that include, among others, the poetry of John Keats and Stanley Kunitz. A slideshow of photographs provided by the artist's family traces his life from boyhood in Ukraine, to displacement in Western Europe, and ultimate settlement in the United States.

    Cherry Blossoms
    1960, oil on canvas
    24 x 50 in.
    Private collection.

    Avenue Breteuil
    1957, oil on canvas
    31 5/8 x 47 in.
    UM collection.
    Last Supper
    1954, oil on canvas
    40 x 35 in.
    UM collection.

    Jacques Hnizdovsky...In Color and in Black & White celebrates the life and work of this remarkable artist who found fame in the United States but remained deeply attached to the land of his birth. It also marks his recent symbolic "homecoming," which not coincidentally took place on the 90th anniversary of the artist's birth and 20th anniversary of his death. In 2005, Hnizdovsky's remains were transferred to a cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine, where many prominent figures in Ukrainian cultural and political history have been laid to rest. The significance of this event was captured in the words of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, John E. Herbst:

    "Jacques Hnizdovsky returns to his homeland leaving behind him in the United States a rich cultural legacy... . Now citizens of his beloved Ukraine will have an opportunity to appreciate his direct and sometimes amusing images, which often draw upon the life of his native land. Hnizdovsky follows in the tradition of so many immigrants to America who have fused the artistic traditions of their homelands with the energy of the New World to weave a tapestry that enriches all our lives and brings our countries together."

    A number of recent shows in New York City drew attention to the evolvement of mature artists' work through numerous stages in their careers. This exhibition takes a similar perspective by surveying Hnizdovsky's evolution into an artist in his prime.

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