Елена Окунева
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VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: fixation of Volodymyr Budnikov’s thought

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: fixation of Volodymyr Budnikov's thought
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Source: jetsetter.ua


Volodymyr Budnikov is one of the most active artists of his generation. He works extremely hard and constantly exhibits, participates in various residences and non-standard projects. It often happens together with the artist’s wife, Vlada Ralko.

While both authors may develop similar themes, their art is completely different. It is curious that, besides this union, Volodymyr Budnikov does not enter into others, keeps himself apart and works on the study of the eternal, without chasing trends, fashion or the concept of relevance.

For Budnikov, relevance does not seem to exist at all. More precisely, he is sure that “a quick reaction to events in art has no right to exist” [1]. For an artist, a thoughtful, in-depth study of the causes of certain phenomena is more important than hasty attempts to fix the moment.

According to Budnikov, this is the destiny of journalists, while the artist has a different role. He believes that we know the history of mankind precisely thanks to culture and art, namely the art that was not tied to any event, but in one way or another reflected the state of the author in a certain context.

Often, indeed, this subjective experience of the artist, expressed even in abstract strokes, can convey reality more accurately than documents and facts.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: fixation of Volodymyr Budnikov's thought
Landscape, 2017

The landscapes of Vladimir Budnikov, which he creates throughout his creative activity, are indicative in this regard.

Sometimes it is even impossible to guess which landscape is depicted, but it was not the goal. These landscapes convey the atmosphere, mood, state – something that cannot be seen with the eyes.

Vlada Ralko speaks about these works of her husband in the following way, “You can talk about Volodymyr’s landscapes through the tradition of Japanese literature, when you never write about the landscape just like that. The description of the landscape is always a description of the inner state of the protagonist. That is, the landscape is the hero inside out. In the landscapes of Volodymyr there is a certain layering – of what he sees, how he represents this landscape, as well as how he remembers this landscape.”

In a sense, art for Volodymyr Budnikov is a tool for documenting thought. Since, purely physiologically, the brain is faster than the hand, the artist is trapped in his own obsession with drawing. He literally has to work hard in order to have time to fix at least part of his thoughts.

To do this, he developed his own approach and decided to leave on canvas or paper all versions of the intended work, the whole process, the whole search. For example, for a physicist or mathematician, it would be a board filled with formulas and equations, on which there would be both the process of solving a problem and the result.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: fixation of Volodymyr Budnikov's thought
From the Exit Options series, created at the Exodus residence, 2019


Such is, for example, the series Exit Options. The author talks about the course of its creation, “In the process of working on a series of works, I drew on a similar practice of multivariant layouts and at the same time, so to speak, depicted it. It turned out that I seemed to be watching the way I act. Each element of the drawing has become a version of the decision of how I will progress in my own work towards my final solution. I resorted to the practice of continuous change of aspect – in no work do I give preference to a certain solution, leaving in sight everything that came to my mind” [3].

Often, in relation to the process of creating paintings, the verb “write” is used, and not “draw”. For the work of Volodymyr Budnikov, this will be more than appropriate, since for him sometimes drawing is writing.

That is, the artist puts his thoughts and experiences on paper, as someone would do it in a diary, but often there is not enough language to describe feelings and sensations – this is how Volodymyr Budnikov’s abstract canvases are obtained.

The artist himself says it about his series of drawings in 2014, “Such work is somewhat internally similar to the process of crossing out and correcting a manuscript. That is, each drawing contains all its options at once – from the first to the last. It is like thinking directly on paper, the result of which deepens the eye inward” [4].


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: fixation of Volodymyr Budnikov's thought


The American artist Cy Twombly became famous for this approach, whose “doodles” became another split in society, such as Malevich’s Black Square, or Duchamp’s urinal. Some beat their chests with shouts of “My child can do that too”, others admire the refinement and intelligence of the artist.

Be that as it may, neither Cy Twombly nor Volodymyr Budnikov make art to please this or that public. Rather, it is an attempt to understand the world with all its facets, with shocks and interestingness, with complexities and beauty.



[1] Volodymyr Budnikov on the art of rapid response, written by Nata Katerinenko, 2018

[2] Interview with Kateryna Yakovlenko: Artists Volodymyr Budnikov and Vlada Ralko: Art is a vision of a manifestation, Ukrainian Pravda, 2020

[3] Volodymyr Budnikov showed a new series of works Exit Options, 2019

[4] Volodymyr Budnikov: Wartime Drawing, 2017

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