I donate to UNICEF. The refugees and children of Ukraine deserve all the help they can get. This is the least I can do.
The Significance Behind the Destruction of Maria Prymachenko’s Art and the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum
During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum was burned and destroyed. This museum was home to Maria Prymachenko’s art, and 25 of her artworks were burned. But before we can fully conceptualize the significance of this destruction, we have to know who Maria Prymachenko is and her art. Maria Prymachenko is a woman who was born in 1908 in the Kiev region and self-taught herself to paint at a young age. Her artwork is labeled as naïve art, which means the creation of an artist who hasn’t received formal training. As a result, her artwork is often associated with a unique quality of frankness and candor like those art made by children. She became famous for her folk-art paintings inspired by Ukrainian tradition and featuring Ukrainian ornaments, flora, and fauna made with gouaches and watercolor. She earned a reputation for her synthesis of traditional Ukrainian designs with her own imaginative creations. Prymachenko stopped painting in the late 1940s when her brother was killed by the Nazis and when she lost her fiancé at war. When she returned to painting, she focused on portraying the themes of peace, independence, and resistance in many of her pieces. Her artwork earned her the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine and she was recognized as the People’s Artist of Ukraine in 1970. She even gained international recognition across Europe and in Japan, Canada, and Australia. Even Picasso had noticed and praised her works saying, “I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian.”
Nevertheless, the significance of the destruction of the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum and Maria Prymachenko’s artwork during the war goes beyond the international recognition and achievements of Prymachenko. In particular, the destruction of the artwork should not be seen only as a propaganda or denunciation of war. Instead, we should pay attention to what the artwork represents—a manifestation of the Ukrainian people’s voice and culture. It transcends the physical object, and the artwork becomes much more than just
Prymachenko’s art and what it depicts. But it has elevated to become a symbol of Ukrainian culture and way of life. It has become a testament to the tradition and culture of a people over different periods of time and one that is now united in the face of national crisis. If Prymachenko’s art reflects the culture of its people, destroying the artwork must represent an attack on the Ukrainian people and their tradition. Worse still, it is an attempt to eradicate the people and their way of life. Similarly, if the burning of the Ivankiv museum was a targeted destruction by the Russian forces as it has been alleged, it is not only an attack on an important building but also on the Ukrainian institution founded on the premises of freedom and creativity which have fostered its vibrant art and cultural exchange among its people and with the world.
Despites the many attempts by the Russian forces to demoralize the Ukrainians and deplete their resources, they have shown themselves to be extremely resilient, not only in their fight against the Russian invaders, but also in their courageous, strategic and even creative manoeuvres when facing opponents many times stronger than themselves. This Ukrainian
spirit was the one embodied in the work of Maria Prymachenko.
According to Anastasiia Prymachenko, Maria’s granddaughter, 10 out of 25 works of art were saved. A man reportedly ran into the burning building, risked his life, and saved some of the artworks. This is another testament to bravery and defiance of the Ukrainian people currently under attack as they try to preserve their cultural symbol and way of life. While the Ukrainian
who rushed into the building probably did not have time to ponder upon the significance of the artworks, he knew that their destruction would be a critical hit to his people as the Russians wanted to see. So he has risked his life to save them, and subsequently helped preserve the Ukrainian tradition and way of life his people so cherished.
Because of the content, message, and meaning behind a painting, the artwork can often transcend space and time to become much more of an idea, a cultural symbol and even a national identity than merely an object. In a world. d where reproduction of artwork has become commonplace, it is sometimes easy to forget the cultural and national significance behind a piece of art, which embodies the ideal, creativity and spirit of the people it represents. This is particularly true in the case of the paintings and artworks of the celebrated Ukrainian artist, Maria Prymachenko. The destruction of the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum represents an attack on the very institution which showcased the Ukrainian spirit of freedom, creativity and resilience and a culture of open dialogue and freedom to exchange ideas among its people and with the rest of the world.