Елена Окунева
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Photo: Alexei Beliusenko / artstorepro.com


Borys Firtsak is not a media figure. Although his friends and colleagues sincerely admire his work and enthusiastically describe their experience of communicating with Firtsak, he does not seem to be eager to be the center of attention, preferring a workshop to studios and parties. It is there, in solitude and without prying eyes, that the artist creates his colorful, deep paintings. With such a slight mystery of the author, Firtsak’s canvases appear before the viewer brightly, “openly”, but not without a mysterious zest.

The epithet “aristocratic” is often used in adresses to Borys Firtsak, implying, as a rule, his refined taste, balanced style and, probably, a certain aloofness. However, Firtsak’s pedigree (or “breed”, as his friend Oleg Tistol says) is really interesting.

Borys is the grand-nephew of Ivan Firtsak, an outstanding athlete, strongman and wrestler, who has traveled half the world, received royal awards, but preferred his small native village in Transcarpathia to all foreign countries and honors, in which Borys Firtsak would later be born.

Despite the fact that the relationship is rather distant, and the sphere of activity of Firtsak Jr. is completely different, nevertheless he inherited the European civilization, which we call aristocracy, and Ukrainianness, attachment to his native land, which is manifested in his work and is confirmed by artist’s life itself.


Portrait of a man, 2021


He, like his famous ancestor, travels a lot in Europe, his associates remember what a sensation his trips made in Soviet times, when it was almost impossible. But, besides Prague and Riga, the artist travels around Ukraine, eventually having not decided on a permanent place of residence.

Until now, Borys Firtsak lives between different cities. Kyiv, Lviv, the native village of Bilky are the main destinations of the artist [1], but others are added to them: either Cherkasy or Chernigov, depending on the current projects.

The fact is that Borys Firtsak is not only a painter. He also works in related fields: design, cinema, theatre. Thanks to it, the artist moves around the country so often, absorbing the shades of each place and synthesizing them in his art.

Scenography makes Borys Firtsak related to the legendary British artist David Hockney, who also created sets for opera, ballet and theatrical performances.


Over the Lake, 2021


But the connection between Firtsak and Hockney does not end there. Both of them are masters of color, which becomes the basis of their artistic language, both create soulful portraits, while reasoning in a surprisingly similar way about time. Artists acknowledge the futility of painting’s attempts to compete with photography for accuracy and realism.

However, both Hockney and Firtsak are convinced that although photography has only a fraction of a second to capture a fleeting moment and “rip” it out from reality, the artist has a great resource – the time spent with the subject of the image, be it a person, a landscape or a still life.

As a result, the artist knows more and is able to reveal a much more meaningful and profound picture on the canvas. And although Hockney and Firtsak achieve their goals in different ways, a cautious approach and a philosophy of study remain the link between them.


Portrait of a Woman (Tatiana), 2020


But, as we remember, for all his Europeanness, Borys Firtsak is a Ukrainian artist, and, of course, he has more connections with local colleagues and they are much more tangible. Firtsak even was a member of the Blue October association, in which, in addition to him, there were five more accomplished artists: M. Weisberg, E. Priduvalova, A. Andjidzhal, A. Apollonov and A. Belyusenko.

In the twenty-first century, such groups, in principle, do not seem possible, in our age of total individualism, uniting under ideological manifestos or under visual-stylistic similarities – as a rule, if they do arise, it is situational and extremely short-lived. “Blue October” is a rather conditional association, which included, in fact, friends, exchanging experience, ideas and knowledge among themselves.

In any case, Borys Firtsak is perceived in isolation, his solitary approach to the creation of painting can be read most clearly from the portraits of his brush – non-literal, living. It is noticeable that the artist devoted all his time, all attention, all of himself to each model.

As for the formal side of Firtsak’s work, it is, of course, a reflection of his life path: the author’s rich geography was mixed in it, where each region brought its delicate aspects, and an equally rich biography of the artist, in which there was a place for different occupations, “Roots” and “Wings” displayed in a powerful and fresh painting at the same time.


A source:

[1] Natalia Matsenko: Borys Firtsak. About the portrait.


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