Monograph “The Way of Transcarpathian Painting”

Art road is a new aspect in the study of Transcarpathia’s painting of the twentieth century. It is new because it is literally about the roads – about geography, places where the paintings were created. When it comes to the phenomenon of Transcarpathia’s fine arts of the twentieth century and its defining landscape genre, it usually implies Transcarpathia’s landscape painting in general, the style of one artist or another, the features that certify belonging to the artistic tradition of the region.

However it is interesting to consider all of the specific places – the villages, valleys, mountain passes. These are some of the painting motifs that became incentives for artists to create a gallery of landscapes and to shape Transcarpathia’s artistic image. Some of them even became places of constant interest and sources of painting energy. Telluric forces acted invisibly, attracting to such a place, and one still had to reach it (often on foot), and then – to plunge into the environment, to catch the pace and the rhythm of these invisible earthly forces, to surrender to their gravity.

The results were impressive. There were whole series of picturesque images, and even more – there was an artistic comprehension of integrity, including the surrounding nature, the people’s way of life, the language they spoke, ornamentation, songs, rites. When a large-scale artistic study of Transcarpathia began in the 1920s, artists sought out those special places that inspired creativity. The place factor mattered.

Uzhanska Valley (together with the valley of the Uzh tributary – the Turia River) was the main center of plein-air painting of Transcarpathia’s artists. It was not only the proximity to Uzhhorod that attracted them… but also the poetry of cozy landscapes, the variety of motifs and their enchanting beauty, the richness of the scenes provided with foreground, middleground and background, and a variable set of objects (houses, churches, mills, bridges, trees, fences, haystacks, etc.), which naturally formed ideal compositions on their own. It was Uzhanska Verkhovyna that became the local Barbizon, where the new Transcarpathia’s art was formed.

Adalbert Erdeli and Joseph Bokshay’s students played an important role in this process – the second generation of artists were the ones who created the phenomenon of Transcarpathia’s painting. Their duty brought them to the villages of the upper Uzh, between the Beskids, in the early 1930s: Andriy Kotska became a teacher at a public school in Tychy; Ernest Kontratovych taught in various villages of Bereznyanshchyna; Uzhok was the first place of service of the artist and priest Zoltan Sholtes. And only Adalbert Boretsky went as a teacher to the East – at first to Velyka Kopana, and later – to Velyky Bychkov in the Rakhiv region.

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