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VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: spontaneous painting by Alexey Malykh

VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: spontaneous painting by Alexey Malykh
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Photo: Dmitry Krasnokutsky


Alexey Malykh left many traces on the conventional art map of Ukraine: as an artist who participated in dozens of exhibitions, as a curator and organizer of art festivals, as a teacher, whose programs are still used in some art schools.

First of all, he, as “it should be” for a decent Ukrainian artist of the older generation, considers himself a painter.


After studying in Moscow and returning to Kiev, at first Malykh felt a feeling of stuffiness from the compactness of the Ukrainian art sphere. Either the freshness of ideas was not enough, or the breadth of views, or the artist was simply aimed at something else. He did not get into the “Parkomuna” squats, nor did he join the “Picturesque Reserve” association.

And if for the transavantgardists Malykh was not figurative enough, and did not coincide with philosophy, then the “reserve” both stylistically and ideologically it was, in general, close, but preferred to develop independently.

Not that there was a causal relationship, but in the absence of a specific program, the work of Alexey Malykh is more situational, spontaneous, at least in terms of inspiration and media.

The artist made obeisances to Western art, creating paintings with something in common with Miro, Rothko, Kiefer and others; inspired by religious art – both as a subject for his works, and technically, using materials as for icon painting; also spoke on the topic of socio-political upheavals in the country, albeit in his own picturesque, not “contemporary” manner; experimented with genres, participating in and even organizing land art symposia and festivals.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: spontaneous painting by Alexey Malykh
Dedication to Miro, 2008


The theme of the earth is close to Malykh, like no other. Hence the second meaning of the “spontaneity” of his art. The first is that the artist obeys the situation, allowing the conditional “creative flow” to flow freely, without a well-thought-out plan and solid concept.

Like Petr Lebedinets, Alexey Malykh leads the picture itself. The second meaning is in the subject of painting and sculpture of the artist. Indeed, it is most often devoted to earth, water, air, in general, the elements and nature as such, something “to which you can touch, listen to”.

One of the Malykh’s exhibitions was called “Open Air”, on the one hand, it is a translation of the concept of En plein air, which the artist often goes to, on the other – a good characteristic of the Malykh’s works, in which an air space filled with light is actually felt.

The author also calls another series of canvases: “Something about the earth”, inspired by its warmth, texture, strength and color. The artist applied clay to the canvases, an atypical material for painting, all for the sake of achieving a tactile rough feeling. Alexey Malykh even dresses, as a rule, in earthy-sandy colors, as if emphasizing his love for this particular element.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: spontaneous painting by Alexey Malykh
Sky, 2014


It is curious that, apart from the land as such, art critic Alexander Morozov writes about the work of Malykh: “His style can be defined as mythological archeology. He continuously conducts “cultural excavations”, mining and imprinting on his canvases the fragments and fossils of some disappeared world and lost experience, about which we, nevertheless, continue to yearn …” That is, even when trying to metaphorically describe the theme of Alexey Malykh’s art , the appearance of the earth as a basis seems obvious.


VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY UKRAINIAN ART: spontaneous painting by Alexey Malykh
Field, 2014


In addition, the author does not hide it, the topic of archaism and antiquity is really close to him. He is interested in rock paintings, he is worried about the stories of the Maya Indians, and in general he is captivated by the primitive principle of the primacy of the creative impulse in art: “I try to put my brain somewhere to the side”.

But the artist brings the heart to the fore in his work. Alexey Malykh can be deeply touched by serious tragedies, and beauty inconspicuous to the naked eye, and the artist puts his pain and joy into his own works, exposing his sensitive nature.

In addition to the fine nature of the artist, Alexey Malykh also has a managerial talent that is rare for creative personalities. He has curated exhibitions and organized projects of various sizes and complexity. It is noteworthy that he passed on this talent of his to his daughter Kseniya, known today no less than her father as an art critic and curator.

At least for Alexey, or rather, for his artistic presence and creative heritage, we can rest assured thanks to the younger generation of Malykh. In any case, the art of Alexey Malykh left its clear mark on the history of the formation of modern Ukrainian art, like rock painting in its time, so valuable for this artist, for all creators, and indeed for all of us.

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