Yakutovych: cinema and mountains

Special Project of the Library of Ukrainian Art

The illustrations by Heorhiy Yakutovych to the “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”

Yakutovych is one more famous “Heorhiy” in the ukrainian graphic art. The first one was Heorhiy Narbut. But in the Ukrainian culture Heorhiy Yakutovych, strangely enough, is better known not for his skilled graphic works but as an artistic director of the film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” by Sergei Parajanov. It is interesting that long before the shooting of this film – in 1962 – Heorhiy Viacheslavovich began creating illustrations for the book of the same name by Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. Parajanov knew it, and he also knew that Yakutovych loved the Carpathians, so he offered the artist to take part in the work on the color feature film.

After the filming of the legendary masterpiece Heorhiy Yakutovych returned to illustrating “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, in woodcut technique, not linocut technique, in which he worked in these illustrations before shooting.

Kotsiubynsky`s book with 15 illustrations was published in 1967 (circulation of around 25000 which is very small for book industry of USSR), and has not been reprinted since than. The illustrations for the book are exposed in this Special Project of the Library of Ukrainian Art. They are completely original but are connected strongly with the picturesque images of the film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (1964). With his detailed description of the people of the Carpathians, Hutsul houses and interiors, incredibly beautiful mountainous scenery the artist managed to reproduce the greatness and profundity of nature.

“When I lived long enough in the Carpathians, i was struck most of all by the beauty and harmony of the peasants working in the mountains and meadows, and their stiffness when they go down to the valleys …” – said Heorhiy Yakutovych. He loved Ukrainian mountains so much that he bought a cottage in Dzembronya mountain, and on his 60th birthday – in 1990 – he was baptized in the local church.

It happened so that Yakutovych worked as artist director on the set of another film – “Zakhar Berkut” (1972) by Leonid Osyka. The book of engraving on the same name was published in 1974.