Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur

Painting by Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur

Floral motif, the main inspiration for painting by Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur (November 25, 1900 – June 10, 1961)

Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur
Born in Poltava Governoraten of the Russian Empire, Yekaterina Belokur lived all her life in the Soviet Union.
To say exactly when the future artist Yekaterina Vasilyevna Belokur began painting – hard to say, but obviously it happened in childhood. She draw with charcoal on pieces of fabric. However, when the girl was 14 years old, caught behind this “meaningless” as everyone believed occupation, she received a strict punishment and ban. Accordingly, from now on, the girl had to paint in secret.
“If you ask me – she wrote in one letter – why I draw only flowers? But I can’t help drawing them, they are so beautiful! I myself, when start painting another picture with flowers, sometimes I think after I finish this one, then I will draw something from people’s life. However, while I am finishing the picture, a number of new paintings appear in my head. Besides, one is more wonderful and beautiful then another… And all of them are the flowers. Here’s the whole story. And spring comes, the grass turns green, and then the flowers bloom … and my God! As you look around – these are good, and those are even better! I forget about everything, and again draw flowers! Do not be angry with me, my family and distant friends, that I paint flowers, because they are beautiful.”

Painting by Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur

Drawing by Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur

In 1939 Katerina was 39 years old. The artist was visiting a cousin, who lived on the other side of the river, and heard on the radio a song by famous singer Oksana Petrusenko. Perhaps, a song, or voice, or both, startled Katerina so much, that all night she was writing a letter to the singer. The next morning, she sent it on rather unusual address: “Kiev Academic Theatre, Oksana Petrusenko.” In addition, she put a drawing on a piece of canvas into the envelope. It was the image of “Kalina”, a tree with red berries. And Oksana Petrusenko received the letter. Greatly impressed, she consulted with her friends – artists. Besides, she visited the center of folk art, and insisted on arranging an exhibition for Katerina Belokur.

As a result, in 1940 in Poltava House of Folk Art took place a personal exhibition of the self-taught artist from Bogdanovka – Katerina Belokur. The exhibition consisted of only 11 paintings, but the success was huge. Katerina Belokur received a prize – a trip to Moscow! The artist visited the Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum, and the Lenin Museum. And the greatest impression she got from Russian artists Peredvizhniki and the French Impressionists. Some time after that she could not even work: “Well, how I can be an artist? I am nothing! My art is worthless! How I dare, stupid rural girl, think about art? But calmed down, she again began painting flowers. In 1941 Belokur creates “Wildflowers”.

Noteworthy, master of Ukrainian folk decorative painting Katerina Belokur became the subject of study and research of art historians. In Yagotino, the birth place of Katerina appeared two regional museums with the exhibition of paintings and graphic heritage. The State Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art in Kiev also has a hall of best paintings by Katerina Belokur. Besides, composer Les Dychko in 1983 created the ballet “Katerina Belokur”. Also, in 1980 was filmed the drama of Katerina Belokur, and in 1986 a documentary film “The Magical World of Belokur” (1986) and the art two-part film “Lush” (1989).

Ukrainian folk artist Yekaterina Belokur

Sources
magazine Krestyanka, 1960
Soviet art album, 1970