Kateryna Kryvolap

Petrykivka: Modern Stream in Ukrainian Decorative Art

September 10 – October 29, 2021  |  Library Gallery

Artist Statement

Welcome to the exhibition of my paintings – Petrykivka: Modern Stream in Ukrainian Decorative Art.

This exhibition represents works in decorative painting – Petrykivka. Petrykivka is one of the most popular,  as well as an ancient, decorative form of painting in Ukraine. This folk art was internationally recognized in 2013 when it was included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This style of painting is unique in many aspects. For example, all subtle and graceful elements are drawn with a handmade cat fur brush. But, in my opinion, the most interesting element about Petrykivka is that the images in the painting are based on the agrarian-cosmological ideas of unity of human life and nature.

In Ukrainian traditions, there is a concept of ‘Oberig’, which comes from the word ‘guard’. The word itself means ‘guardian’. Usually ‘Oberig’ is an object that is credited with the supernatural ability to ward off illness, troubles for its owner, and to bring happiness and prosperity. It is a magical charm designed to protect its owner. Petrykivka thus holds great significance in protecting one’s family and one’s home. Both colors and motifs in Petrykivka have a positive and sacred meaning.

Some examples: Red symbolizes the fire of life, fortitude, home. Blue is calmness, strength and wisdom. Yellow is life, wealth and harvest. Brown – earth-breadwinner, reliability and responsibility. Green – awakening, hope and good mood. Pink – calmness, hope and reconciliation. White is a symbol of purity, sincerity. Orange – power, luxury, sun and joy.

Birds are considered a symbol of harmony, light and happiness. Flowers are the beauty of nature, a symbol of health, kindness, love and prosperity. Trees are a symbol of the cosmic unity of man with nature and the well-being of the family. Berries denote maiden beauty and purity, a symbol of eternal love, loyalty and devotion. The composition ‘Tree of Life’ is an element of life creation, a symbol of the Kin of God – the Creator, the unity of man and nature.

As a professional artist, I chose Petrykivka for several reasons. Firstly,this decorative art is part of my heritage. I believe that it is very important to maintain and cherish traditions and roots. Secondly, I think that this is the most positive visual art. And finally, I believe that my mission is to adapt and integrate heritage and tradition into a modern fabric.

As an artist, I look to freely integrate new ideas of mixing colors, shapes, overlay forms, and depict imaginary or exotic plants and animals within traditional decorative patterns. In the end, what pushes the boundaries of the unknown? What develops ‘good old’ art, transforming it into fresh new styles? What makes human art heritage grow and abound? What makes the next upcoming generation of artists be inspired to create their masterpieces?

For me the answer is obvious – art has no boundaries. It exists in the artist’s imagination and nothing should stand in the way when a paintbrush starts drawing magical motions on a plain canvas!

Artist Biography

Kateryna Kryvolap is an artist originally from Ukraine who makes her home in Canada. She was raised and educated in an artistic family where she found her passion for fine art.

Although Kateryna creates artwork of different styles, her website is dedicated exclusively to both contemporary decorative and traditional decorative painting styles. According to the artist, her paintings are more than fine art because they carry positive energy that is coded in symbolic decor elements.

Traditional Ukrainian decorative painting arose out of a folk art which was believed to have the magical power to protect from sorrow. Depictions of certain elements such as birds and flowers represented prosperity, harmony, and happiness.

When creating decorative art, Kateryna Kryvolap dedicates her time to the extension of conventional boundaries by incorporation of techniques and styles of the past, adapting them to the trends and materials of the present. Balanced colourful compositions with attention to small details combined with sophistication, tell the viewer about the artist’s self-expression, creativity, and aesthetic taste.

Since the perception of art is diverse, people of different nationalities and countries collect Kateryna’s original artwork not only for decoration purposes but in order to possess the new heritage of decorative art.