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Vasyl Sidak is the Honoured Master of Folk Art of Ukraine, laureate of the Shevchenko Prize. The carver was born in 1947 in Zhdeniievo village, Volovets district. He graduated from the Uzhhorod College of Applied Arts, where his mentors were such outstanding masters as M. Popovych, V. Svyda, and I. Harapko.

Almost all his life he has lived in Serednie, Transcarpathia. It is here, in the house that was built with his own hands, he still lives and creates - in a cosy studio, where the floor is covered with shavings, he works with dozens of assistants such as chisels and other tools for wood processing. Thanks to his powerful artistic talent and high spirituality, his beautiful artistic images are born here, which are the result of a combination of classical sculpture and folk figurative sculpture.

The master has worked with tree from the time he was young: he intuitively feels the structure of the material. The carver needs one glance at the wooden bar or board to understand what theme and embodiment can come out from this piece of material. Therefore, several sketches in pencil - and a strong, despite the venerable age, hand takes the chisel, which, it seems, sail on the wood like a boat. The hand of the master does not tremble, does not get off, does not depart from the given direction even for a minute. “Work with wood is hard, you need to know which way to cut it. And, I still need to have strength, in my youth I had it, but now I do not ...” - Vasyl Sidak says. He confesses that each work, depending on the execution complexity and size, takes from a month to half a year of time, and sometimes even more. Thanks to the work of the carver, his house turned into an operating museum. There are sculptures or adapted stands instead of chests of drawers in the house. There are entire stories embodied in the tree-on the walls, shelves, in the corners of the rooms. Huge in scope and extremely powerful in the execution work – “Wedding” - is placed in the host's living room. It amazes at first sight: all the moments of such an important rite in the people’s life are embodied on a wooden panel, divided into three parts. Here are depicted the bride’s parents waiting for matchmakers, next to it is the very engagement scene; on the central panel there is a meeting of bride and groom, below there are musicians, next to it there is the bride dance; on the third panel it is depicted a treating and wedding celebration. Each element of clothing is like woven, and not carved, every facial feature transmits real emotions, each figure is like frozen for a moment ...

He began his artistic life in 1975. Since then, all the works of the master cannot be listed - he himself does not count them. He says there are for sure three hundred of works, there are also works that are left in the museums during the exhibitions, a lot of his works spread all over the world! The carver tells and shows: here is a series of works “The Cross Procession”, and there is one of the first works – “At the Market”, the next is the relief “Shepherds”, among others there are “Happy”, “Opryshky”, “On the Stream”, “The Last Supper”. “When the mood hits, I do it,” - the carver says. - I grew up in the village, so I have a lot of works devoted to the native land, here are the shepherds and there are, as you can see, the girls washing the clothes in the stream. Moreover, I'm a religious person, that is why there are so many relevant motifs. For example, I found a suitable board, I examined it from all sides and the idea was laid on it - here it would be depicted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, I have already drawn a sketch. For you to know, every tree tells its own theme.”

Looking at the works of Vasyl Sidak, it is difficult to imagine how much artistic talent is needed, but above all - strength and hard work, to turn silent material into a thing, which will not have analogue. It is unfortunate that, there are a few people who can really appreciate the complexity of the design and its execution, and also the incredible beauty and harmony of the tree turned with human hands into an extremely complicated in execution work of art which the carver also provides with profound meaning ...

Text: Natallia Petervari Photo: Robert Dovhanych

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