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Vasyl Vovchok



Vasyl Vovchok

The studio hidden under the very roof of a dwelling house… Perhaps this is like Everest which should be daily conquered with new ideas, solutions and colour combinations. Locals are already accustomed that their neighbour is the artist and therefore are not surprised when he puts canvases, stretchers or a sketchbook on his Everest.

A member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine, laureate of the International Ukrainian-Romanian Prize "The Carpathian Crown" and the Regional Prize named after Y. Bokshai and A. Erdeli Vasyl Vovchok has been creating here in the studio.

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Looking around, one can see numerous paintings and sketches – the artist creates in the nature, which he himself portrayed on canvas. The contrast of the first impressions amazes: rain banging on the windowsills – autumn reminds of itself, and spring Uzhhorod smiling on the easel!

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“I got this easel from the previous owner of the studio – Ernest Kontratovych,” Vasyl Vovchok says. “I have been here more than once during his lifetime, and then he gave the studio to me. By the way, there are other things of the classic here. ”

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Indeed: in bulky oak wardrobe, as if quietly watching everything that happens here, there is a hat – both of the things keep the memory of decades because they also belonged to the famous artist. Nobody knows what they saw or heard in their lifetime… It seems that Kontratovych himself will enter the door in any moment, put an umbrella in the corner and sit down in a chair with a cup of coffee — there is a kind of special atmosphere among the paints, solvents, brushes and a palette knife.

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Vasyl Vovchok has been engaged in art since his childhood. Both his father and grandfather and brushes painted, so it was close to him from the childhood. Later, his uncle took him to the art studio of Zoltan Bakoniia, where his creative path began.

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“This is the dearest picture for me,” he approaches the landscape hanging on the wall. “I was painting it for 16 years – this is a very early work. I was then studying in the studio of Zoltan Bakoniia. Look here. This is my village, there were such huts there. Now everything is rebuilt in a modern way, everything changed. Over time, a lot of things around us change or disappear. Back in the 70s, the People's Artist Ivan Shutiev said: ‘I draw these huts because later there would none.’ Now I understand the value of his words.”

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In the photos on the shelves, there are beautiful girls, young women. “These are my daughters,” the artist says. “I go to the USA from time to time to the younger one — she lives there with her family. I am helping them with their house style, and at the same time I get new impressions, paint.”

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It seems that the artist can talk about the family for hours. This is not surprising, because when relatives are thousands of kilometres away and meetings with them are limited to telephone conversations or several-week visits a year, he has a lot to tell. Especially when somewhere there, over the ocean, grandchildren grow up day after day.

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Looking over the pictures, Vasyl Vovchok found his landscapes. “This is Hawaii. I did not paint a lot there but took photos. Local nature, sceneries – fantastic! This is a real paradise. There, even the ocean every day has a different shade! In addition, people are very interesting. In America, I made a series of works, but left them to my daughter – she decorated her house with them.”

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However, in the studio there are not only Transcarpathian and American landscapes – there are the narrow streets of Italy and Venetian gondolas, interesting Slovak landscapes – there are really a lot of them. But the native Transcarpathia is predominated there. The artist creates landscapes of our land on plein air, which he often visits.

He said: “Plein air is a tuning fork. When you paint in a studio for a long time, you are obsessed with one thing. And in nature, you inhale inspiration, a new look, impression with the air. Plein air extends the artist's capabilities: it's always something fresh and interesting. In addition, in the studio colour is lost – if you do not go to the plein air for a long time, the colours will not be so accurate and successful, the game of light will disappear.”

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In order not to stop in the development, the artist is trying different styles, experimenting with colours and textures. Among the paintings there are not only realism – there are avant-garde as well. However, as to such art, Vasyl Vovchok has his own view: “Now art is moving forward fast. I'm not backward, I experiment, try something new, work with computer graphics. Nevertheless, I think that you need to do what you like, that brings you joy. There is no need to chase the fashion but be yourself. Contemporary art is great. But contemporary does not mean exclusively abstract. It can also be painted because the modernity is in one’s thought.”

While we were talking, I paid attention to the pebbles lying on the window. As it turned out, the artist collects them on the river and spend his free time dealing with them.

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“I’m curious to look for textures. Here, take a look: I collect various stones and take photo of them, I apply different filters using a computer. It looks like the surface of the Moon or Mars, isn’t it?” the artist delightedly shared.

It is getting dark. It's time leave. Closing the door, the artist will spend here more than an hour in search of muses, true and interesting solutions. Because his best painting, as he thinks, is still ahead.

Text: Kseniia Shokina
Photo: Nataliia Pavlyk
© Art & Culture Foundation Brovdi Art

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