A RUSSIAN-BORN UKRAINIAN

Andrey Lipatov… Until three days ago I had known nothing about him. It was another discovery I made in MY city –the discovery I’m happy about and proud of.

He was born in Kolomna (Russia), some 100 km southeast of Moscow, in1960. His father, a military officer, moved to Ukraine 6 years later. Here Andrey went to school and received his degree in engineering at the local Institute of Agricultural  Machine-Building. His hobby of cartoon-drawing developed into a full-time occupation when he took one of his pictures to the City Art Studio and sold it at the price which was higher than his monthly salary at the plant where he was working (to tell the truth, even that salary wasn’t paid to him – as to many others – in the 1990s in Ukraine).

Within 15 years Andrey Lipatov rocketed from a provincial self-taught cartoonist to an artist famous in many parts of the world. Besides Ukraine, his pictures were exhibited at art exhibitions in Russia, Japan, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Argentina. In the last years of his life he was not for “home consumption” – being exhibited only abroad.

When I look at his pictures I can’t help being amazed at the strength of this terrain that transformed an ethnic Russian into a Ukrainian artist. The thick richness of colours, the themes of his pictures, their humour, tonality and message are purely Ukrainian. For me, Andrey Lipatov is similar to Gogol in literature – what with the combination of folk motives and the provincial town culture. The difference may be that Gogol, while describing the provincial town is bitingly satirical. Lipatov is good-humoured and kind. For more of his pictures see http://www.andreylipatov.com.ua/

One finishing touch: being widely known across the world, Andrey Lipatov was hardly recognized in Ukraine. He wasn’t a member of the National Union of Artists (NUA), which would have given him an official status and more opportunities to have his works exhibited. He was only a member of the Association of Folk Art, which is of a lower calibre and includes also carvers, potters, ceramists, etc. When he died on January 12, 2010, the local branch of the NUA was celebrating its anniversary, and when it was suggested that the function should be postponed because of Lipatov’s death, the head of the branch refused to do it saying that Lipatov wasn’t a union member.  

More than a hundred years ago a brainy inventor in Yelisavetgrad (the name of my city at that time) submitted a petition to the municipal council asking for permission to set up a big “lit-up clock” in the central square at his own expense. When asked why the deuce he wanted that headache, the inventor answered: “For the inhabitants to be oriented in time and space at the dark time of the day.” Besides their aesthetic value, Andrey Lipatov’s pictures also perform this function: they help us find our bearings nowadays, when the times are not particularly bright.

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