The Eastern Art Collector

Mariya Titova – Art Collector

Do you first focus on the fundamental idea, based on your worldview and perception of reality and then start an art collection, which meets this idea, or do you start collecting art and then it changes your mind and new ideas and world outlook are born? It is hard to say. What I know is that our collections are changing us. I started my collection about 17 years ago. While working as an art dealer in Ukraine, I simply was selecting several artworks from each of my trip to the artist. Paintings that I was not willing to sell but wanted to keep for myself to look at them from time to time. Now I have about 390 paintings and drawings and can say that it is a whole collection with its idea and common artistic features.

It is Ukrainian art plain-air collection from 1940-1990th. It was a strange period for artists, who were creating a unique environment, which existed only in several countries during a short period of time. Soviet ideology put artists in certain rigid frames. But you know artists, they feel so bored when there are too many regulations! Of course, all people need money for life, artists also need money for paints, canvases, artistic trips that gives them inspirations… So almost all of my clients (and members of my collection) were fulfilling governmental orders, which were of great number throughout the country. One old artist was telling me that he was painting the classical Lenin portrait blindfold on a bit. Those, who were talented, had no real problems with money. They were working in the sphere of official art, not using much of their talent, just skills.

Talking about creating work, if there is a strong ideology in the country, an artist always can work FOR or AGAINST it. Most of my artists were working AGAINST. They were finding narrow paths and unsteady bridges in colours, forms, shapes and interpretation of the plot, to go away from Soviet reality. One of my favourite artists Gregory Shponko, with whom I was friends for many years, till his death, was great at sports topics and painting children. He was making the official orders on sports topics (even now one of his works is on the wall of Ukrainian Ministry of Sport). Union of Artist bosses didn’t pay much attention to his quite strange manner of painting, which was far from Social Realism. He had lots of creating trips all-around the USSR and always was keeping several artboards and basic oils with 1-2 brushes. Instead of taking photos, he was drawing sketches everywhere. Small masterpieces in an impressionistic-pointillist manner. I am so happy to be the owner of these collections and sketches, which he made in the swimming pool.

Another great artist Victor Gaiduk fell in love with art so badly that devoted all his life ONLY to painting. He never had family, children, even friends… He lived with his sister—Zinaida Gaiduk, who shared his passion to art. Everything that surrounded them was their inspiration: Zaporogie landscapes, Dnieper river, still-life with flowers… Gaiduk manner of painting is fantastic! Forests and river banks seem to come from fairy tales and also are far away from traditional Soviet Art.

Viktor Gertsenok was more close to the official line. When I first came to his studio, about 12-13 years ago, I was really surprised how neat he was. All his artworks were lying in separate, carefully signed folders stuffed with paper. His painting manner is the same: very neat and focused on details. I am glad to have his incredible pencil drawing of a plant which he made for Linocut. I can tell a story about almost every painting from my collection and they all are so different as artists who created them. Looking at the collection now, I can find common unifying features in all of them. Almost all paintings were made as field works. And I find out that small preparation works, made on plain-air are very often more alive and emotionally filled then later studio bigger variants.

Nowadays this art is dying: using phone to take photo and computer screens are killing this manner. What about light, which is changing each moment when on the plain-air? What about air, wind and even scent, which artist is trying to convey in the sketch? My collection is full of this! Another thing is that the Ukrainian Art School of that period is very bright and close to Impressionism.

I love my collection but it is time to free them to the World. Those paintings I love the most are on my walls, the rest are in folders, boxes, warehouses…. and I don’t think it is the best place for them. The world needs to see the soul of the artist coming through those paintings.

Story by Mariya Titova

All Collection Availalbe for sale

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