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A family of forms

Dr. Erik Empson

A writer, editor and part-time lecturer at Queen Mary,

University of London


When seen together, the works of the Tytenko family have a powerful unity, they complement one another marvellously, and yet when we return to contemplate each individual artist we see traces and affects of the others. Occasionally we can see them tackling the very same subject, where the forceful flourishes of the mature Panas are warmly chided by the delicate strokes of Olena or enhanced, coquettishly by the younger Oksana.

What we have before us we might call reveries. Oksana’s work in particular has this quality. Although many are clearly executed speedily, they are never rushed, they have the quality of dreams that slip from one scene into another, carrying lasting emotions over into new constellations, and leaving us with the sometimes chilling but never disturbing memory of places once visited to which we might never return. Consider the ghostly motion in “My Grandfather” (1), the steed led onwards, forwards, the foal veering to the side, ready to gallop on its thin legs to new pastures.

    1                              2                              3


Some of Oksana’s work in this exhibition gives us a clue to the structural makeup of the larger works, there are deceptively simple, large regions of colour that dictate space and depth like continents moving and shaping a globe. Although some of these paintings are little more than sketches, and the young painter lacks something of the synthetic dynamism of her parents’ work, at the same time they exhibit a genuine ingenuity, a sincere approach to both the foundations of painting and the importance of experimentation in style. The inchoateness of some of these works show the beginnings of a new avenue in Ukrainian painting, one which pays homage to those exceptional external and internal constraints imposed on form, yet respectfully experiments with the new found freedoms (Hillside (2), Riverbank (3), My day (4)).

 4                              5

If Oksana does this with an at times brash, near-fauvist avalanche of colour, Olena’s painting shows a remarkable self imposed limitation, and inevitably a far more studied gaze. Her still-lives in particular, have a mesmerising quality to them. Wispy yet balanced, grey but explosive, feather-light but detailed, composed of delicate touches of colour, her violets burst out of the canvas so fresh and effusive that we can almost scent their aroma. Olena’s paintings of flowers are a master class in subject choice and execution: though rootless and straining hopelessly for light, the subjects of these still-lives never appear forced, but are illustrated as they stand, so much so one could imagine that if a petal were to fall during the sitting, the artist would capture its descent (Blue bells (5)).

Graceful temperance dictates Olena’s style. Her palette is sombre, of ashen greys and oyster shades, but never leaden or obtuse. Like the motion beneath the surface of the sea, light channels itself through these hues casting illuminating rays on its chosen objects. In some of her paintings (Trees by the canal (6)) this is the viewer themself: light splits through the trees with such intensity it makes us blink. Only once we have adjusted to its blinding brilliance do we see the shadows it casts among the branches or how it radiates in the meadows or the forest glade (Through the trees (7)).

         6                                            7


Olena’s work shows that restraint is key to mastering the effects of light. Her oil is very rarely overworked and the marks are made with a real diligence. Exceptional in this regard is “Late blossom” (8) which has real integrity with respect to light and depth. To have painted this scene of a blossoming tree that has inopportunely imposed itself at the water’s edge with such credibility is what is at the heart of Impressionism and shows exactly the same spirit of capture that influenced its first practitioners. The artist is, so to speak, knocked sideways by nature, and can only steady herself by the easel and the brush.



Without question Panas Tytenko’s paintings share many of these qualities. However, his is a bold confident style and gone is the reticence and austerity of Olena and Oksana’s illustrations. What is most striking about Panas is that every painting appears to be approached anew. Even very similar vistas, painted in the same sitting, can show drastic differences in approach (On the lake Como (9), Sunny day in Menaggio (10)). This is an artist who is constantly challenging himself, the world even, pressing at borders and revelling in his versatility. So much the better for the audience: we see a whisper of a squall enter the harbour, the water dimple then ripple, and as our eyes begin to smart, a swell gently rocks the boats.

     9                               10

Another apparent feature of Panas’ style is the balance he finds in his compositions. Whether it is figures, landscapes, town scenes or seascapes, the orchestration is note perfect (First blossom (11)). In simple Mediterranean streets, a whistled tune becomes a sonata, the naive yodels of bucolic mountain scenes become symphonic poems. It is difficult to characterise Panas’ work because the subjects are so varied, and the palette apparently unlimited. There is no sense here of the artist addressing the same problem time and again, rather, he jumps from one place to another, relentless in finding new perspectives, different stories to tell and other scenes to admire. Compare “Winter hunting” (12) and “Autumn” (13): this is an artist of the seasons, for the seasons, who is as comfortable in Venice as in the forests and plains of his native Ukraine.

    11           13


Despite this, there is one aspect of Panas’ painting that exceeds the rest, although it is not obvious whether this is actually an aesthetic issue. Although all three of these artists have painted ballerinas and do so with the sensitivity and elegance appropriate to the subject, it is Panas’ paintings of the female form that are superlative. What the painter conveys is a tremendous sense of human warmth, consideration, familial affection, respect and concern. Both “Oksana” (14) and “Oksana in pink” (15) speak profoundly of a fatherly kind of love which is so very rarely communicated to us in art, and often never broached at all. It is only in these paintings that Panas really finds that reserve, and perhaps, his resolve, which the other two artists appear to have so naturally. At points this takes his art onto a completely new level such as in “In the stream” (16).

 14     15 

We are tremendously fortunate to have artists such as these working so fastidiously and so selflessly. What makes this exhibition so exciting is that, in the case of Oksana in particular, we are only at the beginning of a journey, one full of promise, yet one already laden with tales to tell. To see the Tytenkos in London is a cause for celebration, we can only wonder and delight in the thought of what is yet to come.


(1)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/oksana-tytenko/oksana-tytenko-4.jpg

(2)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/oksana-tytenko/oksana-tytenko-39.jpg

(3)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/oksana-tytenko/oksana-tytenko-9.jpg

(4)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/oksana-tytenko/oksana-tytenko-41.jpg

(5)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/o.yakovenko/images/still-life-3.jpg

(6)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/images_yakovenko/2.jpg

(7)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/images_yakovenko/19.jpg

(8)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/images_yakovenko/18.jpg

(9)   http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/tytenko2x/11.jpg

(10)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/tytenko2x/10.jpg

(11)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/images_tytenko/first_blossom.jpg

(12)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/images_tytenko/winter_hunting.jpg

(13)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/tytenko2x/1.jpg

(14)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/tytenko2x/25.jpg

(15)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/tytenko2x/4.jpg

(16)                       http://www.danusha-fine-arts.co.uk/artists/images_tytenko/looking-at-reflection.jpg


Welcome in modern fine art gallery TytenkoARTIakovenko, there are presented author`s painting by the family of artist.

Art - is also the taste. This is the reflection of the artist's heart on every object that he touches. Happy is the one who follow his heart!

Auguste Rodin