IMAGES FROM PAST EVENTS
Treasures of Ukraine in Photographs by Hryhorij Lohvyn
The photographic exhibition entitled "Guardian of the Past – Hryhorij Lohvyn: Architectural Monuments of Ukraine in Photographs by H. N. Lohvyn," will open on Sunday, October 3, 1999. An opening reception is scheduled for 2:00 PM on that day. The photographs show architectural landmarks, including examples of Ukrainian Baroque and wooden churches. The exhibition will be on view through November 21, 1999.
Guardian of the past is a fitting description for Hryhorij Lohvyn, Ukraine's noted scholar and art historian, whose life has been devoted to studying, documenting and popularizing Ukrainian art and architecture. That in itself is a large undertaking, but to have done it successfully in impossible conditions, within the confines of the severely hostile environment of the Soviet system, is a remarkably impressive achievement.
V.V. Vechersky, an architect, in an article in the magazine Stroyetel'stvo i arkhytektura, 1990, (Building and Architecture) about H. Lohvyn, said that his interests and scholarly work, as well as the goals he set for himself seemed not only "impractical, but had no future within the framework of "social realism" The writer says that "for decades, with the stubbornness of Sisyphus, and almost single handedly H. Lohvyn attempted to close the "black hole" in the Ukrainian culture. His aim was to at least safeguard a remembrance for the future generations of the fact that in our history we also had world class architecture, which was original and uniquely ours."
H. Lohvyn was born in 1910, in Kosivka, Kherson oblast' of Ukraine. He graduated from the Kharkiv and Moscow art institutes and received his doctorate in 1968. Right from the start his opposition to the totalitarian ideology and to what he saw as the "policy of socialistic vandalism" as practiced on Ukraine's historical and cultural monuments and on its art, took the form of their preservation. In numerous published scholarly studies H. Lohvyn relentlessly and consistently brought to light the cultural achievements of Ukraine's past. He wrote extensively on medieval Renaissance, on Ukrainian baroque architecture, painting, sculpture, book miniatures and decorative art.
A prolific writer, he authored many books both in Ukrainian and Russian, among them Sofia Kyivs'ka, 1971 (Kyiv's Cathedral of St. Sophia), which was one of the books translated into the English language.
Hryhorij Lohvyn's best known book is Po Ukraini, 1968 (Throughout Ukraine). The publication documents the country's many treasures – churches (timber and stone), church interiors, icons, iconostasis, paintings, public buildings and castles of Ukraine, built between the 10th and the 18th centuries. For the reader the book is a journey through the many historical regions of the country, where their specificity and variants in art and architecture have contributed to the treasury of Ukrainian culture as a whole.
The exhibition is a similar journey, with the help of 122 photographs, which begins in Kyiv and the surrounding Dnipro River Regions, then on to the Northern Left Bank, Sloboda Region, Volhynia, Halychyna, Podolia, Bukovyna, the Carpathian Mountain Regions and Transcarpathia. As is stated in the introduction to the exhibition : "the photographic exhibition does not attempt to present a comprehensive pictorial review of Ukrainian architecture, rather it introduces the renown scholar's personal selection of his own photographs with special emphasis on the vernacular timber architecture of the Ukrainian countryside, Ukrainian Baroque and the architectural landmarks of the capital city of Kyiv."
The exhibition will also offer brief background information on the development of Ukrainian architecture, which initially was influenced by the block-work timber building heritage of ancient Slavs. Later, with the strengthening of ties to Constantinople, the influence of Byzantium prevailed upon its development. In the 12th century Romanesque architectural trends began to appear, with the construction of stone church buildings. In later years the Renaissance and Baroque influences stemming from Central Europe exhibited themselves in such areas of Ukraine as Halychyna, Volhynia and Podolia. In the 17th and 18th centuries, during the years of national autonomy, Baroque gained great popularity on Ukraine's Left Bank, evolving under the influence of Ukraine's millenium-old timber construction tradition, into the unique Ukrainian Baroque style.