06 Apr Roman Zhuk: “It will all work out for Ukraine, but only with the passage of time”


They call him a transavantgardist and a Ukrainian-Dutch artist, while Roman Zhuk is more of a philosopher who uses a brush for writing. Next – a simple and brief conversation about the things important to an artist and to a regular person.

Since being an artist usually means freedom and belonging only to yourself, in your opinion, where does the society’s desire to relate an artist to a particular country or city come from?

It’s true – being an artist is a free profession. And it’s free because it implies interpretation of the world through an artist’s personality. Objective reality is not the only possible impulse to creative work. And relating an artist to a certain geographic part of the country or of the world is, probably, less important than the place of his/her main creative activity.

Do you keep an eye on the young generation of Ukrainian artists? If yes, do you find any of them worthwhile?

I follow with great interest what’s happening in Ukrainian art field. The current situation here is very different from the 70s, when we couldn’t wait to display our artworks publicly. Unfortunately, due to various ideological reasons, it wasn’t easy. While modern Ukraine is completely different in this regard – it’s open-minded and free. And it’s excellent! I think that young talented people in Ukraine have nothing to complain about. A lot of fresh artists already actively express themselves. Only time will tell which of them, as you say, are “worthwhile”.

What do you think of the fact that recent social and political events have greatly affected many Ukrainian artists? And have these developments influenced your work?

I think it’s great! We all have been trying to survive a terrible epoch of humiliation, deception and moral chaos. The country slowly wakes up and revives. And it concerns everyone, especially artists. Either way, this situation brings new emphasis on art. As a result, latest exhibitions are intense and sincere – it’s like the echo of the recent events.

In 2015 participated in the ART-KYIV Contemporary with my project “Aggression of an Insect”. I wanted to show the image of a primitive creature with primitive mind (if you could call it mind), and with primitive values in our modern times. The most interesting is that nowadays we can witness the extent of the primitiveness’ aggression and menace!

In one of your interviews you mentioned that music gives you inspiration. Please tell us what music you meant and, perhaps, what images it inspired you to create.

Actually music doesn’t give me inspiration for images. When I paint, it helps to create an easy and comfortable atmosphere. As I listen to music, I literally feel how the composers dissolved in it, truly enjoyed it. And it’s their moment of pure happiness and sincerity, as well as mine…

To paint for the sake of self-realization, not for the sake of money, nowadays is a rare option for an artist. But this is exactly the case for you. How did you manage to do it? What’s the point of it all: is it your attitude or just a coincidence?

Everyone can create paintings, as you say, “for the sake of self-realization”. But one must not only want it, but also truly need it. And it’s up to everyone to find out what’s the point of it all.

As is known, art critics are like a stone in a shoe for artists. They can’t help but evaluate and analyze artwork… So how can the artists get back at those critics?

Evaluating, analyzing and ranking – it’s a normal thing to do. But that’s not the point. There are many talented – as well as talentless – art critics and artists. It depends on whom you mean.

As a person who has been living and working abroad for many years, you may have noticed from the outside something interesting in Ukrainian art or society. Tell us about your observations.

It will all work out for Ukraine, but only with the passage of time. The situation both with gallery business and exhibiting will become more stable. You see, a society is a complex organism. Culture plays a very important yet invisible role in it. It’s like a human soul. When we start noticing that moral priorities change towards classy contemporary architecture, high-quality music, unbiased perception of creativity in youth, respect to own historic achievements, society’s desire to communicate with the rest of the world – it will be the first sign of rehabilitation. These changes may already be noticed.

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