Dereka, Sviatoslav (Ukrainian), b. 1948

The paintings of an outstanding Ukrainian master Sviatoslav Dereka (born 1948) are inspired by the Russian avant-garde (first quarter of the 20th century) and Ukrainian folk art. A blend of cubism and futurism, fauvism and primitivism, along with native village painting, characterises Dereka’s bold, colourful style. His works were inspired by the famous Russian artists Goncharova, Lentulov, Filonov, and Malevich.

The artist was born in the village of Pereyaslavka (in the Poltava region of the Ukraine). His artistic talent was evident from an early age, and he began painting traditional ‘Cossack Mamai’ pictures (on oil-cloth, showing a Cossack playing a guitar) from the age of fourteen. Visual arts were very popular in Ukrainian villages. Every home had a variety of pictures, rugs and richly embroidered cloths on the walls by the local painters.

Ukraine had a livelier folk artistic life than its more austere northern neighbour Russia. Daily village life was accompanied by folk songs and dances, which are still performed around the country at the end of the working day. This living culture nourished Dereka, and not surprisingly it had a major impact on his work. The village theme has inspired all his creative activity.

Dereka has especially warm memories about his grandmother. She appears in paintings such as in The Old Farmyard yet she inspired many of the other female images. The fact that an artist from a traditional Ukrainian village could become immersed in the sophisticated world of Russian modernism is unusual. It is often assumed that the elitist avant-garde, drawing on primitive folk art, would be rejected by the peasants in whom this art was rooted. If they cared for any works beyond their traditional art it would be the glossy perfection of learned academism. Yet this wasn’t the case with Dereka.

He started his artistic career as a typical ambitious young man of the Soviet era. He left his village at the age of 16 to join the prestigious Kiev Art College, from which he graduated in 1967. He then continued his education at the academic Kharkiv Institute of Applied Arts (one of the two leading art colleges in the Ukraine) graduating with a Masters degree in 1972. He had all the qualifications for a successful official career.

At this point, however, things started to go wrong. He realised that his individuality was beyond the official boundaries. The young master was drawn to styles denounced by the official Soviet regime. He couldn’t obtain official recognition, painting as he did. His ‘Western modernist’ manner prevented him from joining the Union of Soviet Artists (which he only joined in 1990, in the period of Gorbachev’s perestroika). His chosen way was even harder than that of the artists in Petersburg or Moscow who were quietly admired for their creative freedom and opposition to the official rulings. Dereka’s unique art, by contrast, was considered weird and outlandish in the provincial industrial region of Kremenchug where he lived. Nevertheless, he followed his chosen route, ignoring hardships and the lack of acceptance. The inner strength of this shy quiet man is remarkable.

Dereka regarded Matisse, Picasso, Lentulov, Goncharova and Filonov as his true teachers. He first saw reproductions of their work while studying at Kiev and Kharkiv. He was fortunate in that his studies coincided with the 1960s political thaw in the Soviet Union when the ban on ‘degenerate Western Art’ was lifted. Another important event to further Dereka’s Modern Art education was the Moscow-Paris exhibition in Moscow in 1981 where modern French, Russian and Soviet art was shown for the first time in the USSR without censorship. Seeing this exhibition, says Dereka, was one of the most important moments in his artistic career.

All the presented artworks are exceptional. Yet especially notable are the epic paintings The People of Salvador Are Invincible and The Cross of Destiny – all of them powerful and monumental. Several more paintings are worth mentioning: For the Joy of the People and the watercolours Collecting Tomatos and Fruits. They are a colourful display of village life. The works are decorative arrangements, dedicated by the artist to the people of his native land. This exhibition is a one more insight in the diverse world of modern Ukrainian art.

By K.Marshall


Sort by: Title | Date | Medium | Size | Price
Still life
Available

Still life

1983

Oil on Board

50 x 63 cm

£ 1,350.00

Autumn arrived
Available

Autumn arrived

2006

Oil on Canvas

47 x 68 cm

£ 890.00

Collecting tomatoes
Available

Collecting tomatoes

1976

Oil on Canvas

70 x 100 cm

£ 2,200.00

For the joy of the people
Available

For the joy of the people

1977

Oil on Canvas

100 x 100 cm

£ 4,400.00

Green grove
Available

Green grove

1976

Oil on Canvas

60 x 80 cm

£ 1,250.00

Old farmyard
Available

Old farmyard

1976

Oil on Canvas

58 x 96 cm

£ 2,650.00

Still life with a wine glass
Sold

Still life with a wine glass

1976

Oil on Canvas

53 x 53 cm

The cross of destiny
Available

The cross of destiny

1978

Oil on Canvas

77 x 88 cm

£ 2,650.00

The night
Available

The night

1984

Oil on Canvas

70 x 93 cm

£ 2,075.00

The people of Salvador are invincible
Available

The people of Salvador are invincible

1982

Oil on Canvas

70 x 97 cm

£ 2,650.00

Welders
Available

Welders

1981

Oil on Canvas

73 x 36 cm

£ 1,250.00

Winter Park
Available

Winter Park

2006

Oil on Canvas

50 x 70 cm

£ 1,100.00

Milker
Available

Milker

1983

Tempera

108 x 78 cm

£ 4,400.00

Road workers
Available

Road workers

1977

Tempera

68 x 58 cm

£ 2,200.00

Still life with a fish
Sold

Still life with a fish

1975

Tempera

76 x 59 cm

Blowlamp
Available

Blowlamp

1976

Works on Paper: Watercolour

45 x 55 cm

£ 890.00

Dialogue
Available

Dialogue

1976

Works on Paper: Watercolour

35 x 45 cm

£ 890.00

Fruits
Available

Fruits

1975

Works on Paper: Watercolour

55 x 83 cm

£ 1,350.00

Haymaking time
Available

Haymaking time

1975

Works on Paper: Watercolour

60 x 75 cm

£ 1,100.00

Sunflowers
Available

Sunflowers

1975

Works on Paper: Watercolour

70 x 55 cm

£ 1,100.00

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