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Life is perishable, memory is eternal …



Life is perishable, memory is eternal …

To the 100th anniversary of the artist and pedagogue Shandor Petki

Recognition ... fame ... human memory … What is behind these words, what is their meaning, what connects them? As life experience shows, glory and recognition are often temporary and illusory. Especially when it comes to artists. We can often see that the artist, who received all possible titles and awards in his life, is forgotten after death. A few years later one cannot remember his name, loses interest in him. But, it happens vice versa as well. An artist works all his life, but his creativity, except for pleasure, does not bring him any high titles, awards, money… But as soon as his terrestrial way is over, from year to year the interest to his creativity and his life grows. Why does it happen? What and who plays here a decisive role?...

I think that time is the fairest judge to put everything in its place, make its verdict. It cannot be fooled; it always gets to the truth. Truth is behind the time. It is never wrong because it is the judge of the past of our life at the final instance.

Among the artists, whose works have been of great interest for decades, there is also Shandor Petki (1917-2005). Within the last year programme of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the famous Transcarpathian artist and pedagogue, it was held a memorial day at the Transcarpathian Regional Art Museum. The initiator of the event was Mariia Naumchenko and other members of the artist's family.

The evening was opened by the well-known art historian Olena Prykhodko. She shared her memories of the artist, told about his life and work, introduced the exposition at the museum's premises.

The People's Artist of Ukraine Volodymyr Mykyta recalled several interesting episodes of Petki's life, described him. He noted that throughout his life the artist was immersed in his own world.

The artist Stepan Sholtes spoke about warm friendly relations between two families, which lasted for decades. He noticed that Shandor Petki was a kind, sensitive and highly spiritual person, soft and at the same time firm in his convictions. He was able to inspire trust in people; he could be trusted.

Famous artists of the region, Petki’s students, Vasyl Svaliavchyk and Petro Sholtes recalled their teacher with good words as well. In the end, the family of Shandor Petki in the person of Mariia Naumchenko presented the artist's sketchbook to Uzhhorod College of Arts. What was Shandor Petki?

Shandor Petki was a professional painter, graphic artist, an expert in music and singing, folklore and ethnography. He belongs to the small cohort of the founders of the Transcarpathian school of fine art. A disciple and follower of Adalbert Erdeli, he made a significant contribution to the development of the art, education and culture of the region. Shandor Petki was born on 12 August 1917 in Uzhhorord. In 1937, he graduated from the Musical and Pedagogical Seminary in his hometown. He studied at the Private Public School of Drawing, founded in 1927 by Bokshai and Erdeli, which in the future determined his life path. After the seminary, he started his professional activity as a school teacher of elementary classes in Verkhovyna, in Husnyi and Liuta villages. Later, he taught a course of drawing in the school of Velekyi Bereznyi village. 

From 1939 to 1944, the artist studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest at the Faculty of Pedagogy. After graduating, he worked as a teacher of professional disciplines at Uzhhorod Art and Industrial College (1947 – 1977). Together with the teaching activity, the artist fruitfully worked, dividing his love for figurative art between the technique of watercolour and oil painting.

The spectrum of the artist’s creative interests is wide and diverse. He worked hard in the genre of landscape, still life, and portrait. He perfectly knew techniques of watercolour and oil painting. But in the history of the Transcarpathian school, he went down as a talented graphic artist, a virtuoso and unsurpassed watercolour artist, which revealed the secrets of watercolour. He usually worked with paints "on wet", creating deeply lyrical works. It seems that this technique most closely corresponded to the inner world of the artist, his character, distinguished by the softness and delicacy. I am lucky to know this master. The destiny brought me with him when I was going to enter Uzhhorod School of Applied Arts in 1975. Perhaps this meeting determined my path to a certain extent …

In 1945, Shandor Petki became a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR. Participant in regional exhibitions, collective exhibitions in Lviv, Kyiv, Moscow, Riga, as well as abroad in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Romania. In 1962, a solo exhibition of the artist was held in Uzhhorod, Mukachevo, Berehove, and Khust. Another solo exhibition was held in 1977, and then in 1987.

What is more interesting, since his childhood the artist dreamed of becoming a ... priest. In 1980, he was ordained by the bishop Oleksandr Khira. His dream was fulfilled.

Shandor Petki lived an honourable, fruitful and wise creative life, devoted a lot of strengths and energy to the multi-year education of young artists, sharing his rich experience and knowledge with them.

The artist died in 2005 in Hungary.

The memory of a wonderful person and talented artist will always live in our hearts.

Volodymyr Myshanych
© Art & Culture Foundation Brovdi Art