A Tiger Came into the Garden
Art of Maria Prymachenko

A Tiger Came into the Garden
Kup bilet

Maria Prymachenko (1909–1997) is an icon of Ukrainian art. Her oeuvre has helped shape Ukraine’s cultural heritage. The exhibition A Tiger came into the Garden: Art of Maria Prymachenko is the first presentation of the artist’s work in Poland of such breadth. The gouaches shown here, from 1982–1994, derive from the private collection of Eduard Dymshyts, and are a selection from among hundreds of works by Prymachenko.

For over six decades, Prymachenko created art in the village of Bolotnya in the Polesia region, midway between Kyiv and Chernobyl, an area she never left. She survived the Holomodor, the Second World War, and the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, and lived to see an independent Ukraine. She was “discovered” as a folk artist in 1935 and hired as an embroiderer at the Central Experimental Studio at the Museum of Ukrainian Art on the grounds of the Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv. Her works were shown at the First Republican Exhibition of Folk Art in Kyiv in 1936, and then at the World Expo in Paris in 1937 and in numerous European cities, including Warsaw, Prague and Sofia. She was a painter, embroiderer and ceramicist, and an illustrator of children’s books. She became a professional folk artist. Starting in the 1960s, she led an art school in Bolotnya. She continued creating art until the end of her life.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Prymachenko’s works have taken on particular relevance, in part due to their anti-war message. In 2022 the Local History Museum in Ivankiv, not far from Bolotnya, was burned down, although some of her paintings there were rescued. The Maria Prymachenko exhibition at MSN Warsaw is a continuation of efforts to promote broader knowledge of Ukrainian culture.

In her work, Prymachenko depicted the connections between humanity and nature, drawing on folk traditions of Polesia, rich in symbols and metaphor. She painted people, animals and plants in her everyday surroundings. Her images of the world built on observations of the everyday life of Bolotnya undergo a magical transformation—they do not so much portray reality as undergird it and exert a positive influence on its fate, casting a spell. One of the motifs in her painting is fantastic creatures and birds, both mythological and inspired by pagan beliefs (Smihun the Laugher laughs – He isn’t afraid of people; The Tapper beast taps, Blinks its eyes,
Smacks its lips. Tapper is a savage
; The forest tsarina laughs at people).

Her characteristic bestiary, containing numerous depictions of “humanized creatures” in an archaic composition with heads forward and bodies in profile, comprises numerous elaborate allegories, often expressing moral judgments, mocking human vices, or celebrating the delights of everyday life (The otter says:
“It’s better to befriend a snake,Than a drunkard husband;”
The beast begs for
bitter vodka: “Come back, let’s have fun.” “I will never come back here.”
). Prymachenko’s recognizable style involves a decorative line, and flat, intense patches of colour. Initially she used watercolours, but in time only gouache (watercolours mixed with chalk). In her work, language is another transformational force. Prymachenko often gave her works poetic, descriptive titles, which sometimes help decipher the paintings, or serve as dedications or wishes, as well as modified quotations from folksongs (I give sunflowers to those Who love to work on the land And love all people on earth; I give red poppies to people, So they won’t be no-good slobs, But love the holy land And work on it).

The garden mentioned in the title of the exhibition represents nature, which coexists harmoniously with humans, and in exchange for their work gifts them with all its bounty, while the tiger symbolizes the mysterious, fantastic and wild (The tiger came into the orchard And rejoiced That the apple trees have borne fruit, Apples aplenty). It may also point to efforts to represent the element of danger. After the Chernobyl disaster, Prymachenko also created a series of works connected with nuclear threat and war (Nuclear war – May it be cursed! May people not know it, And shed no tears!). Through the power of her surrealistic imagination, sense of humour, and also a certain dose of optimism, her works are dominated by a humanistic message and a vision of harmonious coexistence of the human and non-human worlds. Prymachenko’s dream was that “people would live like flowers bloom.”

Planning to come to the exhibition and want to avoid queues? This information is for you!

The exhibition A Tiger came into the Garden: Art of Maria Prymachenko is based on works from the collection of Eduard Dymshyts and is a continuation of the project presented in 2022 at the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv. The showing of these works in Poland is also made possible thanks to cooperation with the Prymachenko Family Foundation, which safeguards the artist’s legacy.
 

A Tiger came into the Garden: Art of Maria Prymachenko
Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
5 April – 30 June 2024

Curator
Szymon Maliborski

Co-curator
Eduard Dymshyts

Scholarly consultation
Tetiana Wołoszyna

Production
Anka Kobierska
Aleksandra Nasiorowska

Exhibition architecture
Matosek Niezgoda

Visual identity and graphics
Kaja Kusztra

Promotional spots
Rafał Dominik

Communications coordination
Anna Cygankiewicz

Communications
Józefina Bartyzel, Przemysław Rydzewski, Aleksandra Urbańska, Iga Winczakiewicz, Olga Zawada

Lead editors
Anna Cygankiewicz, Agnieszka Radtke
cooperation: Aleksandra Urbańska

Ukrainian–Polish translation
Katarzyna Syska

Polish–Ukrainian translation
Svitlana Guselnikova

Polish–English translation
Christopher Smith

Consultation on Ukrainian texts
Taras Gembik

Curators of public programme
Jakub Depczyński, Sunflower Solidarity Community Centre (Taras Gembik, Maria Beburia, Yulia Kryvich, Kaja Kusztra)

Production of public programme
Matylda Dobrowolska

Coordination of educational programme
Aleksandra Górecka

Education
Jakub Drzewiecki, Anna Łukawska-Adamczyk, Aleksandra Górecka, Maria Nowak, Karolina Iwańczyk, Dominika Jagiełło, Marta Przybył

Event accessibility
Anna Zdzieborska

Volunteers and alumni
Dominika Jagiełło, Marta Skowrońska-Markiewicz

Audience engagement
Cezary Wierzbicki, Jolanta Woch

Visitor services
Anna Ragan and Klavo team

Guides
Valeriia Mostenets, Olga Mzhelskaya, Lesia Shykiriava, Petra Skarupsky, Bernard Wnuk

Educators
Jagoda Cerkiewnik, Natalia Dovga, Taras Gembik, Yaroslava Holysh, Svetlana Kohutnytska, Tomasz Krajewski, Paula Kuch-Krawiec, Marcin Matuszewski, Julia Sarzyńska, Natalia Siuchta, Luxuan Wang, Wanda Woźnicka, Gabriela Żylińska

Conservation
Anna Pomorska

Inventory
Mada Zielińska

Exhibition execution
Marek Franczak, Szymon Ignatowicz, Aleksander Kalinowski, Przemysław Pryciak, Paweł Sobczak, Marcin Szubiak

Cooperation
Damian Bramowicz, Agata Górska-Campagno, Magdalena Komornicka, Andrzej Kowalski, Michał Kożurno, Violetta Labut-Stępień, Jarosław Paruch, Magdalena Rabczyńska, Sylwia Radzikowska, Anna Ragan, Dagmara Rykalska, Eliza Sasak-Maciejczyk, Natalia Sielewicz, Olga Szeluga, Agata Wojtysiak, Monika Chmielewska, Patrycja Walęczak, Agnieszka Makowska-Wilczek, Szymon Żydek, Michał Piotrowski, Adam Graczyk, Marta Wójcicka, Anna Bakiera, Magdalena Szymczak, Juliusz Mardzyński

Maria Prymachenko (12 January 1909 –18 August 1997) was one of the most important Ukrainian artists of the 20th century. Her work is an excellent example of how folk art can transcend the boundaries of folklore and become an element of national heritage. In Ukraine, Prymachenko has appeared on coins and stamps. UNESCO declared 2009 the Year of Prymachenko, and a planetoid was named in her honor. Her catalogue is now estimated to consists of over 1,200 works. We are showing 89 of them.

Maria Prymachenko was born in the village of Bolotnya in the Polesia region, between Kyiv and Chornobyl. She suffered from polio in childhood. Due to complications of this illness, she could not perform physical labor, which, paradoxically, allowed her to devote more time to creating. As an artist, she practiced both painting and ceramics. In 1935, Prymachenko was hired as an embroiderer at the Central Experimental Studio at the Museum of Ukrainian Art in Kyiv, where her talent gained recognition.

During this period, she painted intensely, and her works were shown at numerous exhibitions, including the World Expo in Paris in 1937. Despite her international career, the artist decided to return to her native Bolotnya. Her home and the surrounding nature were her chief inspiration. She never left the area for long.

During the Second World War she lost some of her closest family, and she suspended her artistic endeavors for a decade or more. She returned to painting in the 1950s. Although Prymachenko herself never received a formal art education, in the 1960s, she launched a folk art school in her village. In 1966 she received the Taras Shevchenko Prize for outstanding cultural achievement.

Following the disaster at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, Prymachenko created an impressive series of works, some of which we present in this exhibition. Her village lay within the 30-kilometer exclusion zone, which had a major impact on her art. Prymachenko did not leave Bolotnya even after the disaster. She wrote in one of the complex, poetic titles of her works, “Nuclear war be cursed! May people not know it, and shed no tears!”

War, which Prymachenko actively opposed, touched her own works in 2022 when the Local History Museum in Ivankiv burned down, and along with it over 20 of the artist’s works. Fortunately, residents of the city managed to rescue some of her works from the burning museum. The event resonated broadly, and the art of Maria Prymachenko again drew international attention.
 

Eduard Dymshyts is the Ukrainian art critic, curator, artist, public figure, patron and philanthropist, popularizes the Ukrainian arts in Ukraine and abroad. Graduated Kyiv State Institute of Arts, Theory and History of Art. In 1988 he became a member of the National Union of Ukrainian Artists and the Ukrainian Section of the International association of art critics of UNESCO MAKM. In 2019 became a member of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Literature (EAASH) in Paris and in a year received honorary membership in the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine.
He was the curator of many art projects, including: exhibitions at the National Museum named after Andrzej Sheptytskyi in Lviv: Mykola Hlushchenko Colours of the 20th century (2021), Maria Prymachenko I give to Ukraine! (2022), Roman Selsky's The Taming of the Shrew (2023), as well as Maria Prymachenko’s exhibition "Maria Draws" (2023) in the National Center Ukrainian House in Kyiv and Margit and Roman Selsky "The westing Sun / Sol Occidens" (2023) in National Art Museum in Odesa.
He is also the author of scientific monographs, such as: Picturesque reserve (Kyiv, 1993), Oleksandr Bohomazov (1991), Painting. Still life in Ukrainian painting of the 20th century (1993), 100 works from collections of K. Hrygoryshyn (2004), Vasyl Chekryhin (2005).
 

Szymon Maliborski is an art critic, curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In 2015–2021 he was a co-author of the festival WARSAW UNDER CONSTRUCTION, which touches on the most important topics of the life in the city. Interested in methods of collaboration between artists and local communities and events that combine artistic and educational practices, which he conducts in the Brodno Sculpture Park. In 2014–2018 he collaborated with the Open-Air Museum project, where he was, among other things, a co-author of the exhibition 140 beats per minute. Rave culture and art of the 1990s in Poland (2016, 2017) and curator of the exhibition Will there be war tomorrow? (2018). He collaborated, in particular, with the Labyrinth Gallery, the Center of Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, the ArtBoom festival and Visegrad Found. Since 2014 he has been working with Daniel Rycharski on the following projects, in particular, in Kurówko and Serpc. Together they prepared the exhibitions Fears (2019) and The Dead Class (2023).

Photo documentation:

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See also:

Events connected with the exhibition:

DzieńGodzinaNazwa wydarzeniaMiejsce wydarzenia
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
15:00 Performance Tigers in the Garden / Integration Lab Peformance
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw

Archive Events connected with the exhibition:

DzieńGodzinaNazwa wydarzeniaMiejsce wydarzenia
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
17:00 Guided tour ABC of the ExhibitionGuided tour for expats learning Polish
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
18:00 Debate Wandering in a Surf. Presentation of the archival project on conceptual art practices in the 1980s in OdesaIn cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden” MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
18:00 Lecture Mental Geology: Nuclear Threat & the Automation of CatastropheIn cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden” MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
18:00 Discussion What's the use of folk art?discussion
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
14:00 Guided tour A Tiger Came into the Garden. Art of Maria PrymachenkoGuided tour in English
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw
16:00 Guided tour ЕКСКУРСІЯ УКРАЇНСЬКОЮ МОВОЮ Guided tour in Ukrainian
In cycle „A Tiger Came into the Garden”
MUSEUM on the Vistula
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22 (Skwer Kpt. S. Skibniewskiego "Cubryny"), Warsaw