Art as a Message Realized Throught Various Means of Artistic Expression

Keywords: art, icon, narrative, national identity, religious and secular art, Ukraine


From the ancient times, art has performed not only aesthetic, but primarily informa­tional and ritual functions, since people have used artistic means to honour the divinities. In Ukraine, the instances of art have been known since the times of Trypillia culture, from the 5th century BC. Hereafter, art has used various means to deliver information. During the years of Kyivan Rus, there were mostly religious mural paintings and mosaic pictures in churches. They were not considered by the contemporaries as artworks, but only as images for worship. However, it should be noted that in St. Sophia’s Cathedral there are also some secular paintings of those times. Religious and secular murals used different art forms and means to convey information. An icon, restricted by the canon, illustrated a particular Christian dogma, whereas a secular pa­inting gave information about everyday human life and performed some political and ideological functions. These two genres are often combined in the so-called "Ukrainian folk painting". The Mother of God, the Lord and the saints are depicted against the Ukrainian landscape, and they have Ukrainian traits. The background of folk icons depicts scenes from the everyday life of the Ukrainians, and the icons are decorated with embroidered towels and dried flowers. In the Baro­que era, secular events and real people are included in canonical Christian plots.

Today, we see a revival of techniques combining secular and religious painting, when icons depict the sacred participants of contemporary political events. Such icons do not meet certain requirements of the church canon, but constitute the society’s reaction to what is happening in Ukraine now. On the other hand, it is a kind of an attempt to bring Heaven closer to humans, to modernize canonical subjects and, at the same time, to promote educating the people in the spirit of patriotism.

Despite the canonicity of the icon and the immutability of information conveyed through the sacred image, the methods of informative communication differed. Thus, although both the Byzantine icon and the icon of the Baroque era reported the same plot, the volume of the mes­sage that they conveyed was different. The Byzantine icon is an ascetic message-symbol, while the baroque icon is more secular and not only gives you purely religious information, but also information about the traditions, life and appearance of the people living in this period, and the political system of the state.

In canonical religious art, a pictorial image is the only means of narration, whereas modern secular art often turns into a performance, with the simultaneous involvement of painting, sculp­ture, music and lighting effects, and avant-garde short films.

Author Biographies

Piotr Gryglewski, Institute of Art History, University of Łódź, Poland

PhD in Humanities (History of Art), Professor at the University of Łódź.

Art historian associated with the Department of Art History, University of Łódź, since 1992. Specializing in the works of art of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with a special focus on architecture, he deals with the problems of the basics of art, as well as historical art content and elements promoted in contemporary art. He was a co-leader of a project which aimed to catalog the monuments of modern painting of the ancient “łęczyckie voivodeship” and to raise issues related to the renovation and revitalization of architectural objects including the addition of new features. Editor of the series “Sztuka Polski Środkowej” and the semi-annual TECHNE / TEXNH.

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Yuliа Ivashko, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Ukraine

Doctor of Science (Architecture) (2013), Professor (2014), Doctor habilitatus, nostrificated (2018). Author of over 550 scientific publications and mono­graphs. Scientific interests and fields of scientific activity: folk architecture of different countries of the world, architecture and the art of historicism – eclecticism and Art Nouveau, Islamic architecture and art, the architecture and art of China, restoration of works of art.

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Denys Chernyshev, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Ukraine

Doctor of Technical Sciences (2019), Professor (2019). In 2008, he was the chief design engineer in a design organization.

In 2014, he was Vice-Rector for Education, Training and Production Work. Since 2015, he has been the first Vice-Rector of the Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture. Member of the Council of Vice-Rectors under the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Author of more than 70 scientific publications. Scientific interests and fields of scientific activity: organization of construction, architecture, contemporary art.

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Peng Chang, Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, Ukraine

PhD, Associate Professor, the National University “Yuri Kondra­tyuk Poltava Polytechnic”. Author of more than 170 scientific publications. Scientific interests and fields of scientific activity: history of architecture, regional peculiarities of national architecture, architecture of buildings and structures, demographic aspects of spatial planning.

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Andrii Dmytrenko, National University Yuri Kondratyuk Poltava Polytechnic, Ukraine

A painter, landscape architect and post-graduate student. Author of 6 scientific publications in Ukrainian and foreign scientific magazines. Scientific intere­ sts and fields of scientific activity: traditional Chinese painting in watercolours, small architectural forms.

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