Yuri O. Skorupsky

     

 

Red Barn in Iowa

Red Barn in Iowa

Oil on Linen

Image Size 40 x 50

Education

1991 L'viv National Institute of Applied & Decorative Arts 1987 M.A. from National University of Fine Arts Moscow 1984 B.A. from Yaniv College of Woodworking Arts

Member

Chicago Art Coalition, Dolya Art Assoc.

Awards

1993 World Friendship Award from Middfest Int'l Foundation 1987 "Master Golden Hands" Award, Moscow 1987-90 Various certificates and honors, Ukraine, Poland and U.S. 1980 Best in Profession, Woodworking, Yaniv, Ukraine

Recent Significant Projects

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, Chicago built by architect Louis Sullivan 1892, murals, altars, kiosks St George Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, city of Rava-Ruska, icons, sculptures, murals. Collections in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S.

 

Wagon Wheel

Wagon Wheel Floral 2014

Oil on Canvas
Image Size 40 x 30

Yuri Painting

Yuri Painting Wagon Wheel Floral 2014

Red Waterlillies

Red Waterlillies

Oil on Canvas

Image Size 30 x 50

Path to the house

Path to the House

Oil on Canvas
Image Size 24 x 36
New Red Poppy Field

Red Poppy Field

Oil on Canvas
Image Size 30 x 40
Winter Lillies in the Woods

Water Lillies in the Woods

Oil on Canvas

Image Size 24 x 30

Evening Lillies

Evening Waterlillies

Oil on Canvas

Image Size 36 x 24

Seated Nude

231100 Seated Nude

Oil on Linen

Image Size 20 x 16

Iris Bouquet

Iris Bouquet

Oil on Linen

Image Size 30 x 30

Html5 Video of Yuri Painting Iris Bouquet

 

Yuri Painting the Iris Bouquet at his recent gallery show.

Platte River Valley

Platte River Valley

Oil on Linen

Image Size 36 x 72

Winter Sunset

Winter Sunset

Oil o Canvas
Image Size 60 x 72

Yuri painting the Winter Sunset at Kavanaugh Art Gallery

Field of Wildflowers

215771 Field of Wildflowers

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 8 x 17 1/2

 
Waterlllies  

215440 Waterlillies in Bloom 2011

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 24 x 48

 
WInter Road  

Winter Road

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 40 x 60

 
California Hills  

California Hills

 

Oil on Linen

 
Image Size 24 x 48  
299496  

Grand Canyon

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 13 x 14

 
227140  

Bloom of Youth

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 38 x 26

 
Pineapple and Orages  

Pineapple and Oranges

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 16 x 20

 

Sunflowers

 

Sunflowers II

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image size 30 x 39

 
Sunny Day Willows  

215770 Sunny Day Willows

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 8 x 11

 
Blooming Time  

Blooming Time

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 9 x 12

 
Field of Wildflowers  

Field of Wildflowers

 

 Oil on Canvas

 

Image Size 30 x 40

 
new winter landcsape  

Winter Landscape

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 36 x 6

 
Floral  

Melody Fountain Plant

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image size 35 x 24

 
Willow and Lillies  

Willow and Lilies

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 24 x 36

 
In the Mountain  

On the Mountain

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 16 1/2 x 24

 
299402  

Snow Covered Winter Forest

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 40 x 46

 
227191  

Sundown in Iowa

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 36 x 48

 
New Snow Scene  

New Winter Scene

 
Oil on Linen  
Image Size 24 x 36  
After the Rain  

After the Rain

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 14 x 10

 
Water Lily  

Water Lily

 

Oil on Linen

 

Image Size 11 1/2 x 23 1/2

 
Golden Field

Golden Field

Oil on Linen

Image Size 9 1/2 x 12 1/2

299497

Monument Valley, Utah

Oil on Linen

Image Size 10 x 15

After

After the Performance

Oil on Linen

Image Size 40 x 30

GARDEN OF FLOWERS

Garden of Flowers

Oil on Linen

Image size 49 x 36

 

Fields of Shadow, Sunlight and Hope The Art of Yuri Skorupsky

By Kevin Lynch

It has been a long road back for Yuri Skorupsky. He is thousands of miles from his homeland, but in his art, he is back. Back in the fields of humble glory, in a childhood that seemed to be endless, when he was taller than the sun-drenched wheat fields. Back when he could dream big. Yet even the most powerfully alluring of his I )Ukrainian landscapes can take him back only so far. His art is not about nostalgia. It is about a long, hard journey that he never could have imaged as a child. It may have seemed lifetimes since he endured the barren existence of life in Communist Ukraine. That's a long time away from being able to transmute suffering and oppression into something empowering, spiritual and yet still of this world. This is the real sense in which Skorupsky's art is finally coming full circle with the spirit of his youth. Skorupsky founded the artists' organization, Dolya, which was born in the town of Rava- Ruska, on the western border of Galicia, West Ukraine. Later, Skorupsky enrolled in what is now the L'viv Academy of Art, the most prestigious university-level institution in the Soviet Union to offer instruction in "monumental and architectural decorative art forms based on pure, unadulterated sources of folk inspiration, a strong foundation in the centuries old traditions of Ukraine's national heritage and the achievements of artistic schools of the late 1 9th and early 20th century," explains Yaroslav Kravchenko, a Dolya art historian. "Ukrainian art, like the fate of the Ukrainians, rose out of the hard crust of black bread, often finding its inspiration in the embers of a plundered, shackled land..." "Skorupsky was able to persuade his fellow students and senior instructors alike of the value of an association of artists. Among those were professors Mykhailo Tkachenko, Mykola Chalyi, Petro Kravchenko, Mykhailo Bezpalkiv... and many others." (1 )

The group created a solidarity for artistic freedom, to allow their art to show the truth, as ugly as it may have been in their daily lives, or as strong and beautiful as truth may have been in their intellects, and hearts. Accordingly, these artists had a remarkably wide range of personal styles, from many shades of abstraction, to images of life, both secular and religious. None of this work was sanctioned by the Soviet government. "Any art that reflected one's own individual philosophy was forbidden," Skorupsky said in 1991. "Soviet art had to reflect social realism. It had to glorify Soviet man." But among the Dolya artists, you would find no social realism, no hackneyed propagandistic imagery which by then could only inflate a false pride in a terminally failing political and social system. Tempting fate? Indeed, these artists for years pressed ahead with fate as their guide, and as their muse. Dolya is a Ukraine word for fate. For them, this was a shared destiny, and a political destination. Because it is unknown, fate is a dark muse, with long shadows. But the true artist must follow that shadow, into the future, whether it means creative freedom or artistic death. Dolya included mostly young artists who had not been beaten down by the harshness of the Soviet oppression. A fire still burned inside of them.

The Dolya artistic community found a regular gallery space in a local cinema, boldly unveiling their work in a space where many would see it, and where movies, the century's most important popular art form, thrived. "Having effectively moved to L'viv, the Dolya Association of Artists brought together the ancient lands of Halych (Galicia) people of all ages and of myriad artistic specialties, for whom both the history and the culture of the Ukrainian people - and: their fate - is of great concern. (2) These artists were Ukrainians first and Soviets to a far less extent, if ever. This remains important to understand as the nations of the former Soviet Union struggle to find their lives, economy and identity in a world where liberated peoples are expected to become functionally democratic on their own. That is the strangely exhilarating and harsh reward of freedom, especially in an economy with little room for error. Even though the members of Dolya became immigrants, their work still tells the story of the Ukraine experience, of a nation in awkward and painful transition from the dying Soviet social system. Their work bore the marks of that burden, and reflected the strength necessary to emerge from that society to find their way to America.

When I first encountered the work of the Dolya artists, the power of this experience was nearly overwhelming. I was moved by their diversity, sensing how the courage of creative freedom had grown, like resilient vines, under such conditions. The occasion was Dolya's first American exhibit, at the Lazzaro Signature Galleries in Stoughton, Wisconsin in 1991, the year they arrived in America. For all their sense of solidarity, this exhibit demonstrated that each artist was now following his or her existential destiny, as surely as does fruit, fallen from the vine. "Unto each thing its fate and its own wide world...Each man on earth his own fate." Thus wrote Taras Shevchenko, the famous and beloved Ukrainian poet. And among this exhibit's rich and darkly powerful images, two works of Yuri Skorupsky immediately arrested my attention, partly for the way they hung beside each other, contradicting each other and yet inevitably coming from the same torn experience.

One image was a painting of the crucifixion, titled "Christ." It was not the romanticized image of the Savior, as a handsome young man with almost delicate features, typical of Christian iconography. Yet this body radiated an eloquent presence. The face and torso were sculpted in shadows, with powerful paint strokes, in the red and blackness of death, the deep, physical crush of death. The body angles, both stern and supple, articulated a Dostoyevskian image of redemption through suffering. In this sense, Skorupsky's Ukraine sensibility had found affinity with a Russian essence. But this embodied spirit was universal, and a reaffirmation of a belief system based on an understanding of human sacrifice rather than manufactured religious sentiment. I understood more of why this is when I saw the painting which hung next to "Christ." It was a startling image -- of a woman hanging naked and windswept over the skyline of Chicago, America's greatest Midwest city. It was titled "Urban Magdelena." As disorienting the juxtaposition was, it seemed to convey an ambivalence about Skorupsky's immigrant experience. The second painting projected a sense of how woman has become both a carrier of humanity's redemption even as she is exploited. It is part of the freedom of the American experience, what Communists would call American decadence. But by elevating the woman in such a daring way, Skorupsky suggests how the repressed Soviet culture never allowed women their rights to be more than second-class citizens, with limited career options, and certainly forbade them to express their personal sexuality. Such complex freedoms are part of the great challenge of democracy. But it is also humanity in its fullest sense, and this Skorupsky would fully realize in America. He asserted the strong and remarkably diverse training he received (3) to become an artist of personalized expression and an artist to be commissioned for projects, on the terms of a free man.

So his work in America has included doing murals, carved and guilded altars and "kiots" for churches, a freedom that is perhaps far more meaningful for a former Soviet subject than it might be for most American artists, who often see organized religion as oppressive to cultural liberty. But the freedom to believe and worship God can be as profound and important as the freedom to believe in oneself. Skorupsky has done distinguished mural work and wood carvings at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, designed by the great American architect Louis Sullivan, and other Chicago areas of worship. And yet, most of all Skorupsky is free to be a man who can look to the future or to the past as his creative imagination sees fit. Ukraine's loss, America's gain.

So we see work that ranges from still lifes of Ukraine to a wide variety of recent landscapes which explore a vast bridge from his childhood memories to his sense of nature's abiding maternal role in his psychic life in America. In one 1989 work, "Ukrainian Folk Still Life," a metal vase is filled with flower bulbs and a sickle. Corn, cranberries, a strainer and hanging slippers. The configuration is odd, compared to conventional still lifes. The sickle clearly symbolizes Russian harvesting. But its black steel blade, standing right in the heart of the arrangement, has an ominous quality, like a noxious weed. A solitary egg lies on the edge of the folk patterned table cloth as if on the verge of a tenuous new freedom. Also on that edge is a segment of cranberries which are plump but red as blood. Such elemental symbols imply how the artist's consciousness must have struggled with an affinity for folk traditions and with the chance for a new life that would necessitate a break from that past, even at the risk of bloodshed.

His recent landscape work has shown how he has reached back to the early memories, those which form the sinew and the ever-fresh soil for a strong creative life in America. That is evident in the "Road of My Youth," which depicts a road with a wooden fence, along which wildflowers are blooming. But beyond the fence, a brilliantly golden grain field conveys an almost muscular presence, with lacing angles and thickly contoured forms. There is a rhythmic tension here, reminiscent of Van Gogh, but stretched to a lean tautness. As if this field signified the tension sensed by the young Skorupsky, and the way his feelings intensified as circumstances would affect this symbolic scene of purity.

The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl left a devastating impact on this man as well as all Ukrainians. "Human beings must appreciate the fact that they are part of nature and they must become good stewards of what has been given them," Skorupsky told the Wisconsin State Journal in 1991. "If (artists) don't influence people as to clean air and clean water, there'll be no future to appreciate art. "Certain primitive forms in some of my artwork makes the viewer return to this childhood when the air was clean and help him remember the innocence of childhood." (4) Such a work as "Night Fields" suggest the psychic bridge from the Ukraine experience. It is a virtually abstract image, but it is marked by the diagonal lines that reflect some of the artist's early landscape images. The painting's swatches of intense gold-yellow seem to lunge like spawning salmon into a fleeting white stretch of horizon, which recalls the flashing window to freedom in a dark, oppressive dream. The grain itself seems to have reached a moment of truth, "each thing its fate." Indeed, most of Skorupsky's landscapes are heavily shadowed in a manner akin to the heavy-impasto chiaroscuro used for his figure of Christ on the cross. It is not sweet, delicate imagery, as is clear in his images of water lilies, cowering under tree branches in "Evening Water Lilies." Monet's beloved images of this typically comforting subject matter never suffered such hardship.

This awareness seems evident also in a more recent portrait, of Skorupsky's own wife, the Dolya artist Erika Komonyi. The painting is more refined than the landscapes. It is a demure, semi-nude of the woman, peering from over her undraped shoulder. Her make up and black fashion hat suggest the sophistication of a woman with an experience more urban than rural. Yet there is no coquettishness in her expression -- the eyes peer back at the observer with a blend of knowledge and wariness. Her mouth and chin are firmly set, the slightly pursed lips convey a strength, and perhaps a hidden defiance. Her shoulder is strong but the skin is pure, like an expanse of fine texture rounding over a soft hill. As with the wheat field, there is an element of idealization in this image. Encroaching darkness surrounds the woman. In both landscapes and portraits of a loved one, the artist suggests how the strength of nature's forms is in their beauty, health and fulsomeness, qualities things that remain vulnerable to forces of their environment, especially when it is poisoned by distorted human intent. By extension, civilization is subject to larger forces that undermine nature while pursuing goals of political or financial power. Skorupsky's work does not express this explicitly.

He is far more an artist than a propagandist, even if such a political message is worth heeding. But it is the function of art to work at a deeper level than political debate.

Skorupsky's work, like that of other Dolya artists, asserts the value of creative freedom, the way that an artist can reveal what is valuable in the world and foster a sense of humane priorities for a human community based on their own sense of goodness, truth and beauty, rather than simply following a leader or the strictures of a heavily regimented social system. In that sense, Skorupsky is merely a man of the people -- in the sense that each man and woman is special, and thus valued for their individuality.

He has known a life where such a sense of self was dissolved into a common socialist cause that was noble, in theory. But the idea was never realized to truly sustain humanity, as can the actual goodness of a windswept, sun-golden wheat field. As a painting of such a field can feed the spirit. All the richer is such visual succor, if the landscape is shadowed with the memories of vast, needless death, and of near-fatal injuries to the hope of a proud, long-suffering people who stood tall in the face of fate.

-- December 1998. Kevin Lynch is the art critic for The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. He is also an artist and has written on the arts for The NewArt Examiner, Art Muscle, The Chicago Tribune, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and other publications.

NOTES 1. Kravchenko, Yaroslav. "On Artistic Themes: 'To each his own fate "' Svoboda Ukrainian Daily, Jersey City, N.J., Oct. 29, 1991.

2. ibid.

3. Skorupsky received a B.A. in Wood Carving from the College or Woodworking Arts, in The Ukraine, and an M.A. in Fine Arts and Graphics from Moscow National University of Fine Arts, Moscow. He later studied fashion and leather design at the L'viv Academy of Art, Ukraine. He has parlayed such diverse training and ensuing experience to the point where he today works as a painter, iconist, muralist, woodcarver and model maker, while still in his mid 30s.

4. Wisconsin State Journal, interviewed by Ina Pasch, in "Glasnost Opens Up Artists' Private Visions." Nov. 11, 1991.

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