Kateryna Bilokur -tragedy and success


A century has passed since the birth of a great Ukrainian artist Kateryna Bilokur. Those hundred years comprised flashes of talents, successes and failures, victories and disappointments.

Kateryna Bilokur was born in a peasant family in 1900 in the village of Bohdanivka near Yahotyn. She did not have any education and had to study by herself. She mastered literacy, read a lot and her soul craved for something unattainable.

The great word 'artist' seemed to her so magic and beautiful. She said to herself that sooner or later she would become an artist. She kept repeating that life without art wasn't possible for her.

She had been very gifted in painting since her childhood. It was possibly the God's providence that directed her hands, taught to discern colours and group the colour range. She began painting portraits of her relatives and villagers. In her later works Kateryna would extol a flower the beauty of the land.

Her paintings derived from the life-giving source of folk creativity based on songs, legends, tales and decorative arts. She admired the patterns on household utensils, Ukrainian clothes, towels, but her tender poetic soul was mostly charmed by flowers that blossomed around her house, in the gardens, meadows and fields. She called them 'my children' considering them human beings. Some pictures have her own captions: "Painted from nature by K.Bilokur".

She also called the flowers "the eyes of the Earth, the soul of the Earth". Through them she comprehended nature and deepened her knowledge about it. She glorified flowers and said: "I'll paint and paint flowers because I like to work on them so that I can't find words to express my feelings to them, my great love for them".

Kateryna Bilokur first exhibited her paintings in Poltava and Kyiv in 1940-41. She was warmly welcome by her colleagues Ukrainian artists and her way to recognition started.

But the Great Patriotic War began and her eleven paintings were burnt in Poltava museum. She lived through hardships and difficulties of this war. The 1950s saw another raise in her artistic career. Her works were exhibited in Moscow and other cities. The public was charmed by her pictures "Peonies", "Still life with bread", "Breakfast", "Flowers and walnuts" and others.

But a well-known painter Kateryna Bilokur had lived all her life in pain and poverty; she did not have any family or children. The grave illness tortured her, besides she had to look after her sick mother.

Great fame came later, after her death. The time has come to pay tribute: her works are exhibited in museums in Ukraine and abroad, a picture gallery bearing her name was open in Yahotyn, a street was named after her in Kyiv. A lot of books devoted to her life and works are published in many languages. The Bilokur Prize Fund was founded for praising the most talented artists and painters.

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