That surprisingly sunny November day I was tremblingly walking to the studio of Vasyl Korkishko, the artist: what will be our first meeting? Vasyl is acknowledged master of graphics and paintings, one of the most influential Ukrainian artists. His paintings were exhibited in many prestigious exhibitions gaining sincere recognition of the audience and appreciation of experts. Reproductions of his paintings have found the place in the "Artists of Ukraine" and "Art-Festival" albums dedicated to the 2000 International Festival in Kyiv, as well as the "Modern Ukrainian Art". That year Vasyl Korkishko participated in the "Ethnic Culture Source of Ukraine and Modern Age" international conference and exhibition, which the International Academy of Spiritual Unity of Peoples of the World participated as well. The paintings created by Vasyl are in the private collections not only in Ukraine, but also in the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, USA, and Croatia...
I open high doors of the studio and I see still quite young smiling man with wise eyes of the creator. Around there are canvasses created by the enthusiasm and tireless work of the author. Sunbeams caress enchanting landscapes through high windows and it seems that the trees are just about to toss their branches in the breeze, the sea wave will seethe and billow, and we’ll feel the scent of lilac and irises blooming beautifully on the canvas.
It's hard to withdraw your eyes from the beautiful pictures, and it is almost impossible to remember the time enjoying those paintings. It’s not just a world in front of you – there are ten worlds, different in its mood and feelings. But in every world, there is a true love of the artist singing high as a flute to his native country and to the Ukrainian people. This love accompanies all his life.
Surrounded by beautiful paintings we were talking slowly, and an outstanding figure of the Artist was appearing each minute brighter in my mind.
Vasyl Korkishko was born in Poltava region, the land which gave the world many famous names. These are Hryhorii Skovoroda, philosopher and poet, writers like Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Mykola Hohol, Panas Myrny and Olena Pchilka, Mykhaylo Ostrohradsky, mathematician, and others. The future artist spent his childhood in the Kuntseve village, where he inherited a huge love of labor from his work-people parents, desire for beauty and unfailing belief in the homeland. Over the years, young Vasyl has studied in the Kharkiv Art and Industry Institute, which he graduated from in 1985. Already during the student years, he has gained his artist credo: neatly-plastic expression, the exact content of paintings, and clear presentation of the landscape as a holistic environment.
Ahead there were still infancy years, millions of sketches, and long hours of inspired work. The first Dnipropetrovsk studio of the artist was located in the basement, where there were no necessary conditions, not enough light, but his creative aspirations were stronger than temporary difficulties. Light has filled his landscapes, stroke gauzy haze of the “Hopper” canvas, glowed softly in the "Morning Tune", blushed in the “Sunset". His paintings united the magical aura of harmony with the nature of human existence, explicitly expressing philosophical mindset of the author.
In 1990, Vasyl becomes a member of the Union of Artists of Ukraine. It seemed that the top was reached, one could rest, put the brush aside, but instead, Vasyl challenged himself again, outlining new horizons. He applied various tools, graphic arts and paintings, also, he tried complex etching technique - and has always achieved purity and severity of each stroke. It was highly appreciated by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, and a series of these works were purchased by the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation. The coloristic scale of paintings is distinguished with delicate shades and skillful use of light and color.
As a result of high demands to himself, continuous improvement of techniques and preservation of national spirit, there comes the international fame of the artist, recognition and appreciation from those, who gains endless aesthetic pleasure from Korkishko’s canvasses.
After quite a few minutes of looking at the beautiful landscapes, you are already captured by the incomprehensible magic. For example, his "Heaven": scary and yet magical cloud is stretched across the sky, illuminated by the sun, diving beyond the horizon - a disturbing feeling fills the heart, causing it to freeze. A minute later, your breath is taken away by the admiration of “Mood”, and it seems that the secret thoughts and desires fly away with a powerful foamy wave.
Bare and seemingly cold trees in the “Early Spring” timidly look through the fog, magical colors of the great "Twilight" landscape fill the soul with a little sad, but pleasant wrench. The generous variety of the "Spring Bouquet" is glowing near.
The painting of Vasyl Korkishko includes personal originality and respect for the traditions of the Ukrainian realistic landscape. The paintings dedicated to Ukrainian spirituality and destiny of the motherland are deeply striking into the marrow. These are the "Memory" etchings devoted to the Great Patriotic War, and psychological portraits such as "Mother" or "Old Age", as well as "Christ" and "Vyshhorodska Virgin" full of high reverence.
As a surgical scalpel his "Where do we ..." cuts the souls of spectators, reflecting sharply and painfully the high empathy of the Artist to the dark socialist years when his dear, passionately loved Ukraine was oppressed, deceived, and washed with the blood of millions of victims. No wonder the dark molding around canvas is enlaced with a barbed wire - materialized reminder of the fact that it was the Soviet "framing" of Ukrainian fate.
The brighter deep philosophic attitude of the artist to the history and present of our people is displayed in the "Seventy-three" painting. Paints are screaming from it lifelike, screaming about the terrible time when followers of the hammer and sickle ideas were destroying churches, icons, preferring to undermine people's spirituality and faith for themselves, creating a comfortable existence, allowing them amusing themselves against human suffering. It seems that the distressing sight of Jesus on the canvas has merged the sights of all Holodomor and repression victims, all those who carried the faith and love for their country through that long brutal invasion. A white pigeon is flying the nest, braided in the suffering crown of thorns, as the new, free spirit of Ukraine.
It is hard to imagine that people might find that canvas indifferent.
"Ukraine, its natural beauty and high spirituality have always inspired me - says Vasyl. - Now I live in Dnipropetrovsk, I recreate bright churches of the city and majestic Dnipro flooded areas on my canvasses. However, Poltava region, the land of my childhood, is my constant source of inspiration. "Ukrainian landscape. Poltava" is one of my favorite paintings."
I also had some time to live in Poltava, and now, when I looked at the wonderful painting by Mr.Korkishko, I thought I’ve seen the pond near a small Horby village in Poltava region, and the last leaves fell exactly from the tree where I was having my rest. The miracle of natural beauty recreated by the artist feels like home - and it is the irresistible magic of real art, its light energy.
Generally, the energy in Vasyl’s studio impresses with its highness.
It feels like in a temple and you understand that it is natural because this studio is the temple of the high painting art. And titanic work.
Weeks, months of hard work for each picture. In pencil drawings and large canvasses, there are carefully painted out the smallest details, where nuances of colors create captivating harmony.
It seemed that the Wonderland created by Vasyl Korkishko’s talent has revealed all its secrets, but I was in for another pleasant surprise. Suddenly the door was opened again and it became even brighter in the studio when the artist's wife Valentyna has joined us. This charming woman with a bright smile has not only supported and inspired her husband on the difficult creator’s path for many years but from time to time she co-works with him: by Vasyl’s sketches, she creates a wonderful tapestry. So the artist gains the inspiration by his own efforts, and with creative collaboration in his family, attention and understanding from the nearest person.
Unfortunately, there is no worthy exhibition hall in Dnipropetrovsk, which could host the exhibition of Vasyl Korkishko, but we hope that its establishment is not far off. The city authorities understand their responsibility to talented compatriots, and perhaps a hall that will meet all the requirements will welcome its first guests already next spring.
By the end of this year, we will only see the artist’s reproductions in such albums-collections as "All Artists of Dnipropetrovsk", "Ukrainian Painters of the XX-XXI Century" and "Famous Artists of Ukraine" which is being prepared for publication.
Meanwhile, Vasyl Korkishko continues to work. He has many creative ideas and plans for the future. So be sure to remember the name of the artist - if your heart is not indifferent to beauty, you will hear it repeatedly.
Creativity requires the artist to fully immerse in the created world. Whether it's literary, musical or artistic work – it won’t play with natural colors, if you do not invest a part of your soul in it. Looking at the paintings created by Vasyl Korkishko one can once again make sure that the greatness of Ukrainian soul is able to transform the world for the better.