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Vasyl Olashyn: "I'm interested in the process when you can create something from nothing"



Vasyl Olashyn: "I'm interested in the process when you can create something from nothing"

High ceilings and spacious bright rooms, creative mess, hundreds of sketches and dozens of his own works – such is the "cathedral" of Vasyl Olashyn, a master from who creates not only beautiful sculptures, but the carefully considered, expressive embodiment of ideas. 

His sculpture of Prince Koriatovych is known to everyone who visited the Mukacheve Castle, but the figure of Ilona Zrini, the owner and keeper of the same fortress, because of the vexing injustice now guards the sculptor's studio and looks at the sky through the window in the ceiling – maybe someone will hear it?

– You call your studio your cathedral. Why?

– I come here not as to a studio, but as to a spiritual pulpit, to my cathedral. Here, I have corresponding state, the desire to create. It is very difficult for me to start. I am the most productive in the afternoon and up to 3 a.m. But, the studio itself inspires for a certain state of creativity.

– And, how did you come to sculpture?

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– I have been admiring drawing since my childhood – I painted all the books, because there was no other canvas. My cousin was entering the school, and I was sent as an amateur, no one even thought that I would pass. And, I was getting ready. There was a paradox: I entered, and he did not. He studied at the Uzhhorod College of Applied Arts at the wood processing department. The wood is warm and plastic – I liked it. Upon graduation, I had a creative problem: I wanted something more. I understood that I would not choose another profession, but then the question arose: what to do next to create more serious works. Without knowledge, you just stuck and you cannot go any further. It happened that it was the time when I got acquainted with the famous sculptor Valentyn Borysenko, who was a former director of the Lviv Institute. He looked at my works and advised me to enter the Institute. I chose what my heart wanted- sculpture.

– Tell us how do you work, how does the idea come? How much time must pass in order to proceed from the idea to its realization?

– You know this is a standard question with a non-standard response. It happens that the idea is born immediately, but it also happens that you put a pen on paper and do not know where to move your hand. You draw a lot of sketches and then it turns some detail, which gives the start to everything. For me, the theme of motherhood is infinite. There were millions of artists and will be, but the art is interesting by its uniqueness. It is evident that God created a man in such a way that creativity is not limited – this is the cosmos.

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– How do you know in what material your next work should be done?

– In general, the order itself and the theme dictate what will be the material. If the sculpture is going to stand indoors, you can use wood and marble – now these materials cannot be placed outdoors. When there were no cars, exhaust gases, marble stood perfectly outdoors, but now under the influence of external factors it quickly deteriorates. Apart from granite or sandstone nothing will keep standing. Each material needs its own decision of plastics – you cannot blindly transfer from one to another.

– Before you take up a sculpture, do you study the facts about what you are doing?

– When I undertake any work, I collect all information that was before me - everything that can be found. When I made the sculpture of Koriatovych, there were difficulties: little information, only facts, there was no portrait at all. There was only one portrait of the 18th century: a graphic image of a semi-caricature character - it was impossible to create a sculptural image from it. I sculpted Koriatovych as I read about him: he was loved as a prince, because he was human, he was respected for his wise decrees. I added also the symbols: he points the finger down –my people and I are the masters here, in his right hand he holds a scroll – it speaks of the mind, because he created local laws.

– And, how did the legend arise that it is necessary to rub Koriatovych's finger and make a wish?

 – Because of that finger, it was almost like a war: some people said it was a hint that people should kneel in front of him. They almost want to remove the monument. I suggested: whoever will hold onto his finger and make a wish – it will necessarily come true (they say, the prince worked with people, hence, now it is necessary to make people go to him). And then, they added another idea: in order to return to the castle once again, you need to throw a little money on the pedestal – it works up till now. This is my favourite work – a good legend and a suitable place. It will stand there while the castle is standing.

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– You said about the symbols in your works. Do you think over them or is it just a reproduction of a certain idea?

– The sculpture speaks only with symbols. This is the most silent form of art and at the same time the most eloquent. If you approach the sculpture and disconnect for a while, look at it, communicate with it, you start asking questions: why? for what? how? where?  With help of forms, certain figures, the artist creates an image: hand position, view direction...All details of the sculptures must be symbolic, every movement, each trinket has a meaning. It happens, it is very difficult to understand them, but a hint is enough – and the viewer will begin to read the sculpture as a book.

– The sculpture of Ilona Zrini was not presented to the general, but, as I know, it is also imbued with symbols. Tell us about it.

– Monument of Ilona Zrini is the order of the Mukachevo City Council for the Mukachevo Castle, but although the layout was designed and approved, the sculpture was not paid and the work could not be completed.

On the upper landing near the church, according to the plan, it was supposed to be a defender of the Mukachevo castle namely Ilona Zrini. I decided to portray her with her children – she protected not only the castle, but also the family and those people living around.

In the foreground, there is a small Francis II Rákóczi who holds a wreath symbolizing his involvement in the crown. Mom pushes him forward with her left hand as a sign that a man, and even more so a king, should be ahead. With her right hand she holds her daughter to herself, as if protecting her. At the same time, it seems as if the daughter pushes her mother's hand back, and this gesture also carries a certain sign: later, she married an Austrian officer and betrayed her mother. According to the plan, Zrini was supposed to stand in the niche and look past the church towards Hungary.

I went to the place where she was born, married – I was looking for material for work. I found several pictures of different periods, different similarities and realized that I had to create my own image, because there was nothing to refer specifically to. In the same way, the images of children were created by my imagination through personal perception.

I spent a little more than a year on this work. The monument was to be done in bronze. Still, I hope that someone will like this work, but … It is designed so that it cannot stand anywhere, it must be something like a castle. Perhaps, Hungarians will take it.

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– What will your next work be about?

– The composition is devoted to the topic of ATO, our Heroes. The process of work is very hard: as it is difficult for them at the front, in battles, it's so hard for me now, when I'm working on this monument. I want to tell the story of a man who went to defend his country and died. There is a history on the relief: birth of a child, then he goes to school, studies at university, goes to the army. The last relief is military actions: volunteers, his comrades. The composition will be completed with the figure of the mother who holds the child on raised up hands – it is a symbol that we will be reborn and defend our country.

Text: Kseniia Shokina, Nataliia Petervari
Photo: Nataliia Pavlyk