N2N Gallery welcomes Ukrainian artists Petro Lebedinets and Alla Alekseeva
Alla Alekseeva before her work.
Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer
N2N Gallery, Abu Dhabi, presents the works of leading Ukrainian abstract artists Petro Lebedinets and Alla Alekseeva from May 12 to June 30. This is the second time that Lebedinits’ works have been featured by the gallery – the first time in 2016, at Abu Dhabi Art. The artists are husband and wife; they find their synergies in color and the feelings it arouses.
For Lebedinets, abstract art must convey positivity. “I firmly believe that only positive emotions should be infused into art,” he says. “Meanwhile, contemporary art often focuses on a kind of destruction. Nevertheless, I follow a purely aesthetic program. I constantly experience the system of living harmony and not destruction.
He describes his art as the reality of abstraction, with an existence independent of the visible world. In essence, he manages to breathe new life into the tradition of European non-figurative art. Lebedinets takes color and texture to new dimensions by weaving a tapestry of hues, wired with deliberate positivity. Modernist avant-garde works, done with broad, deep strokes of color, resonate with humanistic and naturalistic detail.
They are reminiscent of the Gardens of Versailles or the flower gardens of Keukenhof in the Netherlands. The paintings are harmonious and joyful; there is no breakage, conflict or loss and they are performed with a combination of grace and power. The artist manages to create the most luxurious color harmonies, and to represent the dazzling brilliance of a sun-drenched world. This aspect will particularly strike a viewer from the Emirates, who is awash in sunshine and color, as a matter of routine.
Lebedinets has another view of this. “The painting,” he says, “is like a classical, symphonic work of great form, with careful organization of the musical fabric and its built-in architectonics, combined with free jazz improvisation.” He thus recalls the musical and architectural elements in his compositions. He graduated from the Kyiv State Art Institute, where, like others, he began his career by studying the basics of academic painting.
However, feeling a need for change, he began to fill his realistic paintings with decorative flowers and symbolic shapes. He wanted to go beyond academicism and therefore decided not to reproduce realistic canvases; he began experimenting with color. The search for his own pictorial language lasted several years.
Drawing inspiration from Matisse and Gauguin, the colorist theories of Johannes Itten and Wassily Kandinsky, he developed his own color formula. He was responding to an inner call. Andrey Kurkov, Ukrainian author and public intellectual, has this to say about Lebedinets’ work: “Every composition is as limitless as the Atlantic Ocean. Each work has its own Gulf Stream that directs your gaze, leading it where the imagination will go, among melting pools of emeralds and blues.
Ukraine has been a melting pot of cultures and over the centuries the Ukrainian people have developed a school of art, which incorporates many genres of artistic creation. They include folk art, embroidery, woodcarving, ceramics and weaving. Intricately patterned Easter eggs in the folk style (pysanky) and various Byzantine art forms found in mosaics, frescoes and manuscript painting are dominant motifs in Ukrainian culture.
Lebedinets borrowed them and they are an intimate part of his paintings. He was born in Melitopol, Zaporizhia region, Ukraine, in 1956 and has won numerous awards: certificate of honor as a participant in the Our Heritage art festival (Metropolitan Museum and National Arts Club, New York); Honorary Artist of the Year Award at the Kyiv International Art Festival in 1997; and honorary prize of the jury of the international Contemporary Art exhibition in Nice, 1996.
He was ranked number four among the top hundred contemporary artists of Ukraine by the national project 100 Artists: Modern and Contemporary Ukrainian Art Since Independence. He has exhibited in many places and his works can be found in private collections in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, USA, France, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Holland, Spain and in Italy, among others. Alla Alekseeva is from kyiv and at the heart of her artistic images is figurative painting, as if reinterpreted in the sense of abstraction. The paintings are sensual, juicy and express themselves with joy. Their aura is such that by looking at them, one could forget the subject.
Her artistic path may have been backwards – from non-figurative compositions, she went figurative. But she, too, is a color aficionado – shimmering, radiant, absorbing. They tumble, flow, quiver and vibrate, as if the hot sun is spraying its rays of light on them uncontrollably. Or it could be that the moonlight, with a cold, trembling light, reveals the mystery of darkness in his creations.
Indian red, Neapolitan yellow, cobalt, emerald green, ultra marine purple – it uses the full color spectrum to convey a whole range of emotions, from radiant joy, a sense of playful fulfillment, to unconscious anxiety and premonitions of something that is also yet incomprehensible.
The thick, textured strokes, brimming with life and inner strength, undoubtedly speak of the artist’s bubbly temperament. Natalya Muzaleva, founder of N2N Gallery, says that “at a time when there is anxiety and turmoil in the world, dramatic and disruptive color combinations should be avoided. It is necessary to preserve the fundamental principles of positive and creative energy. The artists did just that.