This week’s artist from Ukraine was a student of Khariton Platonov at the Kyiv School of Drawing: Mykola Burachek (1871-1942) was born in Letychiv, a town in the west of Ukraine, then in the province of Podolia. He continued his studies at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts until 1910, when he went to live in Paris, where he worked in the studio of Henri Matisse.
He seems to have returned to Ukraine before the First World War, and in 1917 started teaching in the Ukrainian Academy of Arts in Kyiv. He went on to teach at the Kyiv State Art Institute, and the Mykola Lysenko Music and Drama School. In 1925, he moved from Kyiv to Kharkiv, where became rector of the Kharkiv Art Institute.
Burachek is best known for his virtuoso Impressionist landscapes, such as A Cottage at Noon from 1928, with its dazzling colours and vigorous brushstrokes.
In 1934, he moved back to Kyiv, where taught again at the State Art Institute. He also worked as a stage designer for theatres across the country, in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donetsk.
By 1938, his colours had become more muted, as shown in his Last Cloud of a Scattered Storm.
He appears to have painted Monk Mountain (1938) on the Black Sea coast.
In 1939, Burachek’s monograph on Taras Shevchenko, father of modern Ukrainian literature, was published.
The Mighty Dnipro Roars and Bellows… from 1941 shows trees on the bank of the river during a stormy night, and is Burachek’s response to Taras Shevchenko’s poem composed in 1837. Its first verse, translated by John Weir, reads:
The mighty Dnipro roars and bellows,
The wind in anger howls and raves,
Down to the ground it bends the willows,
And mountain-high lifts up the waves.
This poem has been put to the tune of a Ukrainian folk song, and has been popular around the world.
I also have images of two undated paintings of his. Winter Landscape may have been signed in 1925, and is another virtuoso Impressionist work.
An Old Woman is an oil sketch of an elderly woman lit by a window.
Mykola Burachek died in Kharkiv in August 1942, when the city was still in the hands of Nazi forces, who executed over 45,000 of its residents, transported another 60,000 as slave workers to Germany, and left 80,000 to die of starvation, cold and disease.
Andrey Kurkov and others (2022) Treasures of Ukraine, A Nation’s Cultural Heritage, Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978 0 500 02603 8.
Konstantin Akinsha and others (2022) In the Eye of the Storm, Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930s, Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978 0 500 29715 5.