An original painting in gouache, size 280 x 191 mm.
This is the first of a couple of paintings inspired by the work of Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenko (1909 -1997). I’m asking myself what might she paint right now, with Putin’s army wreaking havoc on her homeland? Prymachenko was a pacifist losing members of her own family to earlier conflicts.
I am currently experimenting with gouache paint – the medium that Prymachenko worked in. So the flatness of the colour is deliberate and follows the way she worked. It won’t be long until I work out a way to combine gouache with watercolour. The flatness and opacity of gouache is quite a shock to me after years working in watercolour!
The title of this painting “We see what we are defending” is from a quote made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 3 April 2022 just two months after the Russian invasion. Prymachenko sometimes gave her paintings lengthy and descriptive titles. I like this, so I thought I would do the same.
So many things are destroyed by war – people, animals, homes, public buildings, infrastructure – and important cultural artifacts. Artifacts which are important to Ukraine and the whole world, such as the Temple of Bel at Palmyra, deliberately destroyed by ISIS militia in occupied Syria. I was devastated to hear that in February 2022, during the Battle of Ivankiv, the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum was bombed. The museum housed more than 20 of Prymachenko’s paintings – all now lost.
When you visit the University of Oxford’s Natural History Museum its a job to know where to look - at the marvellous exhibits? Or at the magnificent architecture? In this painting you'll spot a dodo, some dinosaur footprints, the swifts that nest in the tower, a dinosaur skeleton and so much more! My favourite bit is the frog in the jar. What's your's? The title comes from Charles Darwin's book 'The Origin of Species' in which he wrote of his theory of evolution by natural selection: "There is grandeur in this view of life..." The print is last one of a limited edition (of 4) hand-made drypoint tinted with watercolour - 450mm x 700mm.