Cosmogonic Impressionism by Volodymyr Garbuz

The Exclusive of the Library of the Ukrainian Art

Text by Kateryna Lebedieva

Illustrations to the book “Ukrainian people in their legends, religious convictions and beliefs”

“Cosmogony of the Ukrainian people” is the title of the cycle of linogravures by the prominent Ukrainian artist Volodymyr Garbuz (born 1951). The cycle consists of 28 colored linogravures (on two boards), 54 x 43 cm (sheet), 29 x 24 (drawing). 30 copies of the works were printed in 1991 and became illustrations to the book by George Bulashev “Ukrainian people in their legends, religious convictions and beliefs” (1992 is the year of the first edition). The book, describing Ukrainian cosmogonic folk convictions and beliefs, was first published in Kiev in 1909 in Russian (“Космогонические украинские народные воззрения и верования”). In the book the ethnographer Georgе Bulashev (born in 1860, the year of death is unknown ) carried out a research of prose folk stories and in fact he wrote not just about the Ukrainian mythology, but about the Ukrainian vision of the world. The author demonstrated the ideas of the Ukrainians about their origin and the origin of the environment.

Yuriy Buryak who at that time was the editor of the publishing house “Dovira”, where the book was edited, translated the text into Ukrainian and provided it with the illustrations of Volodymyr Garbuz.

“I am deeply interested in the ancient Ukrainian realities,” says the artist, “In 1991, when the independence was proclaimed in Ukraine, many artists felt free and began to express their artistic concepts independently as it used to be in the 1920s-30s, when our people got entrusted to the revival of the genuine Ukrainian state. As a result of this, the publishers began to open to the public the texts hidden in the archives, including those by George Bulashev and Yakiv Holovatsky. When I started the work on the cycle, I did not make any researches into the monuments of the material culture, as it is often done by other artists: they go to a library or museum, examine and copy archives to find an idea for their illustrations. I just read the text, penetrated into it, and the images came to me. I was drawing by intuition, subconsciously. Later, when a book about ancient archaeological finds in the territory of modern Ukraine fell into my hands and I saw the photos of bronze and ceramic handicrafts in it, the hair on my head stood on end: my drawings looked like copies of what our ancestors had done more than a thousand years ago. The artist is only an artist, and often does not realize what he is doing. I am not able to explain what exactly I wanted to say with these works. I just listened to the voice of the skies. I believe that the times will come, when these symbols discover a lot of new things for researchers of our history and it will give the restored cosmogonic worldview to this country. ”

Volodymyr Garbuz had been working for five years on the cycle “Cosmogony of the Ukrainian people”. In the cycle, besides linogravure, the book “The Ukrainian People in Their Legends, Religious Views and Beliefs” includes more than hundred paintings and illustrations to the book “Expressions of Old Slavic Legends or Mythology Compiled by Yakov Golovatsky” (Kyiv, Dovira, 1991). We are planning to tell about it in the following publications of the Library of Ukrainian Art.

Cosmogony of the Ukrainian people