February 22, 2017 at 16:00 the Branch of the HFC held the opening of an exhibition of works by contemporary painters and graphic artists from Odessa organized in collaboration with the Odessa Branch of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine.
“The personality of Kostandi, also called “Patriarch” by his contemporaries, played a determining role in the history of Odessa’s fine arts and artistic life in general.
Kiriak Kostandi (1852-1921) was the most prominent figure among Odessa’s school of plain-air painting of the late 19th – early 20th century. The artist was born in the village of Dofinoka near Odessa. Following graduation from the Odessa School of Fine Arts, he continued education in the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, where he took his studies under the mentorship of Prof. P. Chistiakov. In 1885, Kostandi returned to his beloved Odessa, and from then on, we worked as an instructor in the Odessa School of Painting. In 1890, he co-founded the Society of Southern Russian Painters, in which he chaired from 1902. In 1907, he earned the title of Academician of Painting. In 1916, in the initiative of the Society of Southern Russian Painters, Kostandi was appointed director of the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts (nowadays, Odessa Museum of Fine Arts).
The death of Kostandi in 1921 made the Society of Southern Russian Painters stop its activities, but there remained Kostandi’s Odessa School of Painting. As P. Nilus put it, “He had introduced to the world of colors the eyes of dozens of people who then became artists”.
The essence of Kostandi’s works lied in grasping the spiritual essence of the world through the realization of the theme “Man and Nature”, which today also remains important for artists from Odessa representing two major artistic trends: the continuation of traditions of the Odessa school of plain-air and the modernist experiments in a content and a form.
The exhibition presents paintings and graphic works in the genres of landscape painting, portrait, still life as well as figurative, decorative and abstract compositions. The works of renowned and young artists show a variety of artistic methods including the impressed plain-air painting, the individualistic styles of rethinking of forms of visible and invisible worlds, and the representation through an artist’s perception of the concept of the world.
A man gets to know God through his works. Likewise, Kostandi learned beauty from nature by glorifying the beauty of his native land. Reference to nature served the artists a healing way of recovering the lost harmonic ties between God and humans in the hard times at the turn of the century.
The life affirming character of the exhibition shows that artists today, just as it was in the early twentieth century, try to find the lost harmony with the environment, nature, people and God. The nature and the light of the Black Sea directly and indirectly serve as the means of self-awareness and harmonization for the artists”.
Art historian, member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine