An exhibition of modern sculptures by Volodymyr Semkiv is on display in the capital


According to art critics, the works of the Lviv artist are a unique innovation of wood carving and have different interpretations depending on the context of events.

The personal art project “From the roots” of the contemporary Lviv sculptor Volodymyr Semkiv is ongoing in the art center “Ya Gallery Kyiv”. The exhibition features wood sculptures created by the artist over the past few years.

According to the artist, wood as a material symbolizes natural strength and the will to live, giving us hope that there will be a new world, new life, new achievements and victories.

Man and tree, man and nature — this is a common space, the basis of existence. We are alive, and therefore, natural, we are also burned out by emotions and experiences, our physical body suffers…“, the sculptor emphasizes.

The artist successfully presented part of his works at last year’s exhibition “New Lviv Sculpture” in the Lviv Art Center “YA Gallery”, combining them precisely by material, and continues to work in this direction at his first personal exhibition in Kyiv.

According to the curator of the exhibition and the founder “YA Gallery” by Pavel GudimovVolodymyr Semkiv is a representative of the Lviv sculptural school, but breaks with its past and forms modern approaches, demonstrates openness and changes standards in the modern understanding of Ukrainian sculpture.

All works were created by the sculptor during 2022-23. Photo: Tatyana Asadcheva

While preparing the exposition, we traveled with Volodymyr to his workshop 50 km from Lviv in the native village of Prybuzhany, Kamianka-Buz district. It was there that he first showed me the work on the sculpture “Roots”, which was suspended on chains in the large room where the artist worked. Semkiv knows how to stop in time… His wood is fresh, rough, but at the same time fragile. He works with linden, which darkens over time. He develops his cognitive approach to sculpture, clearly feeling the material background of the work.”– notes Pavlo Gudimov.

Working with wood, Volodymyr Semkiv strives to move away from the form, take into account the features of the material, to show them as much as possible, adding them to the theme of the work. It is the rough, as if unfinished preparatory gesture that becomes a feature of technical performance, and the chainsaw is almost the only tool of the artist.

The sculptor admits that he started working with this material relatively recently, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Before that, he worked with bronze, cast iron, and stone.

During the years of study, considerable attention was paid to monumental sculpture. We were taught that a tree is a trifle…However, a monumental sculpture cannot talk about current practices – it is designed to stand for decades and centuries. And the tree gives an opportunity to sketch – make a sketch,” says the artist.

The works of Volodymyr Semkiw impress with their texture and physicality. All sculptures are made of wood in a rough technique that very naturally conveys the properties of the material. They appear brutal and extremely gentle at the same time.

An unusual object consisting of 3 figures strung on a metal ring, resembling the figures of angels, often attracts the attention of visitors. Emotions from their contemplation create the illusion of movement.

The different scale of mostly anthropomorphic plasticity and clear action and gesture are embedded in the form and title of each work. Large static figures give the exposition a mystical atmosphere.

The central figure of the exposition is a sculpture where a person merges with the roots of a tree. According to the author, this composition personifies the process of birth from the earth and from the foundations of being.

Our body is an allegory for a tree: plastic, not restoring lost parts, arteries and a hard bark that protects it from the outside world. The long events of the war make us feel the painful and sharp forms of bodies, exposed and defenseless…» — say art critics from “Ya Gallery Kyiv“.

A tree is a symbol of natural strength and the will to live, it gives us hope that there will be a new world, a new life, and new victories. Man and tree, man and nature, this is a common space, the basis of existence.

In the art world, wood is considered a special material that has been used since the beginning of the history of sculpture.

From ancient Egypt, medieval carved altars and church sculpture to modern art, wood has always had a life both before and after the sculpture. And even the understanding that the whole tree will eventually rot did not frighten the masters in the face of eternity.

The exhibition can be seen until May 21. Photo: Tatyana Asadcheva

Few whole and many mutilated trees have survived to our days in sculptural works. It is the scarred, cracked and eaten wood that creates a special charm that has been added by time and conditions. When you look at an ancient wooden sculpture, this trace itself is a significant part of the emotions from viewing the work“, – tell the curators of the exposition in the art gallery.

Modern art has rethought the meaning of the material, and since the time of avant-garde artistic experiments, wood has become increasingly rough and powerful. And even the appearance of modern technologies and materials did not affect its popularity as an object.

Exhibition “From the Roots”

When: until May 21, every day from 10.00 to 19.00, except Monday

Where: Horyva Street 49b (Kontraktova Ploshcha metro station)

free entrance

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