Painted gates, houses and sculptures on the roofs: visiting the famous Kyiv artist Mykola Sologub

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After the aggravation of the war, the artist moved from his workshop in Podil to his country house. The artist immediately joined the self-defense and continued to create – however, instead of canvases, he drew on a children’s tablet…

At the beginning of the Great War, he was 54 years old known Kyiv artist and sculptor Mykola Sologub arranged a shelter in his basement workshop in Podil, where he housed people in the first weeks of the war. And he himself, having given the keys to the studio, went to his country estate in the Kyiv region. There, the artist participated in self-defense.

During the occupation of the capital region, he, together with other locals, monitored order and reported the situation to the military.

During night shifts, the artist did not stop painting. On a children’s battery-powered tablet found on the street, he drew miniature pictures, took photos, posted them on social networks, erased the drawing on the tablet and began to draw again. Mykola has dozens of such works. One of them – a picture called “War” – was taken by an officer of the ZSU for the cover of his book.

After the de-occupation of the Kyiv region, self-defense suspended its work, and the artist himself returned to paintings. A journalist from “Vechirnyi Kyiv” visited him and asked the artist about his service, about the estate in which he worked during the Great War, and about whom he depicted on his canvases.

FROM A BASEMENT WORKSHOP ON THE SIDE TO AN ESTATE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FOREST

Mykola Sologub received his art education from his father. Yes, the young man painted in a workshop on Andriyivskyi Uzvoza, and in a few years he began to cooperate with metropolitan galleries. The artist has been living in this rhythm for over 30 years.

He paints pictures in the technique of fusion of book graphics and sculpture. And the images on the canvases are often mythological. Some of Sologub’s works are presented at exhibitions in various countries of the world, in particular, in the USA, Italy, Georgia, China, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, etc. By the way, the artist’s canvases are valued at hundreds of thousands of hryvnias.

In order to get to know the artist personally, the journalist of “Vechirnyi Kyiv” visited him. Actually, it is here that he has been painting his paintings for the last year.

The country estate of Natalya and Mykola Sologub is located in the Kyiv region, not far from the city of Ukrainka. The inner gate of the house opens directly into the thicket. Underfoot are mushrooms, fir cones and squirrels, which jump briskly from tree to tree.

In the yard, Mr. Mykola arranged an artificial four-meter lake with live fish, to which all the birds flock. It is far for them to fly to the Stugna River, so they drink water here. The area is truly incredible: tall trees, clean air, birdsong and coziness.

The house of the artist, which he calls a “hut”, is impossible to confuse with someone else’s. Crossing the threshold, you immediately see painted gates, houses and sculptures on the roofs. In the first seconds, your eyes run wild: you try to see everything. A banner from an exhibition nine years ago hangs in the middle of the painted yard.

The artist writes paintings in the genre of expressionism. In a small workshop, mythological characters, images, individual people and peoples are transferred onto the canvases. Most of the colors on the canvases are dark, but at the same time contrasting: as if they are shouting very loudly.

“In general, I paint pictures in my studio in Podil. But since the full-scale invasion began, my wife and I moved to the country. And now I work here almost every day,” says Mykola Sologub during the meeting.

INSTEAD OF BRUSH AND PAINTS — MIXTURE FOR “MOLOTOV COCKTAIL”

Until February 24, Mykola and his wife Natalia lived and worked in Kyiv. He set up a workshop in one of the basement rooms in Podil, where he created a lot. The large underground studio was more useful than ever at the beginning of the escalation of the war.

“Most basements in Podil are leaky and damp. I renovated my workshop, so people started flocking to me. We arranged the creative studio as comfortably as possible and lived here together for a few days. And later, my wife and I moved to the dacha for an indefinite period,” says the artist.

Mykola did not remain without work here either. Locals quickly created self-defense. Together with the artist, a retired military man, businessmen, builders and accountants joined the self-defense.

Mykola Sologub. Photo: Borys Korpusenko

“Among us were military men who taught us how to make Molotov cocktails and how to handle weapons. At that time, women wove camouflage nets for the Obukhov Teroborona and prepared food. Those who could do what they could,” Mr. Mykola recalls today.

Their tasks were: to monitor order in the country sector, to listen for suspicious sounds, such as the buzzing of drones or footsteps from the forest lane. All information should be reported to the military at checkpoints.

In order to better listen to extraneous sounds, the artist even had to cut down an old tree that cracked from time to time.

“There is a strategic object relatively nearby. The Russians tried to attack it with rockets, but ours shot them down: the remnants fell in Stugna,” he continues.

According to Mr. Mykola, there were no terrible incidents during his service in self-defense. But he remembered one dangerous shift.

“Once, during the meeting, we heard an armored personnel carrier driving through the forest rather quickly. Some of the residents of the summer cottage sector ran to their homes, some remained with automatic weapons in their hands. We thought it was a Russian armored personnel carrier, but it turned out to be ours that got lost,” the artist recalls.

In his spare moments during night shifts, Mr. Mykola began to paint. And he did it on a found children’s tablet.

“Someone evacuated in a hurry, probably, but did not notice how that tablet fell. And since I had neither paper nor notebook here, I sat down to draw on this tablet.

I drew, photographed and erased. And so in a circle. When the Internet appeared, I posted it on Facebook so as not to lose it. And I drew because I have been doing it all my life. And then it also reflected sleep,” the artist explains.

Mykola Sologub shows how he drew on a children’s tablet. Photo: Borys Korpusenko

One of his pictures on a tablet called “War” was taken by the military writer Oleg Kostyuk (the book “Sorrow and Madness”) for the cover of his book.

“A PRISONER OF PUTIN’S REGIME RECOGNIZED HIMSELF IN ONE OF MY PICTURES”

After the de-occupation of the Kyiv region, there was no longer any need for self-defense. However, Mr. Mykola was in no hurry to return to the workshop in Podil and continued to paint pictures in the workshop in the country.

He hospitably shows his two workshops to “Vechirnyi Kyiv” journalists. One is located in his yard, the other is in a neighbor’s house, whose property he looks after.

“I used to paint a lot of historical subjects related to wars. He drew intuitively without thinking. Only later did he realize that he had a premonition of this great war. And now I continue to draw the same thing, only I already understand why and what I’m doing it about,” says the artist.

One of such paintings, air anxiety, which the artist conveyed atypically.

Mykola Sologub’s painting titled “Anxiety”. Photo: Borys Korpusenko

Among the various works of the artist, a series of drawings about the destroyed Moschun stands out. Mr. Mykola painted each of the pictures from a photograph taken and sent by his friend the artist Oleksandr Lyhosherst.

“He didn’t have the opportunity to draw it: Sasha was defending Moschun and Gorenko. But he, as an artist, wanted to document on canvas what he saw. That’s why he took some photos from Moschun and asked me to draw them,” says the artist

A series of drawings about the destroyed Moschun. Photo: Borys Korpusenko

The soldiers depicted by Mr. Mykola are a collective image of a strong Ukrainian soldier. By nature, he does not draw, but he assures that he will never do this, because he believes that it is not true.

However, some people recognize themselves in his paintings. This was the case with Volodymyr Balukh, an activist and political prisoner of the Putin regime.

“I drew a prisoner – such a small picture. And a mutual acquaintance of ours with Volodymyr Balukh, who saw Volodymyr on the canvas during his arrest, wrote to me. I was surprised, because this was my collective idea. In the end, she introduced us, we met in my studio with Volodymyr, where I presented him with this canvas,” the artist recalls.

THIS WAR IS MEDIEVAL. FOR THE EMPIRE TO FALL, WE MUST STAND

The artist Mykola Sologub warned about the war crimes of Russian mercenaries in Ukraine, while admiring Donbas. And he knew about it for simple reasons: he once served in the Soviet army beyond the Urals, and he understands what kind of people they are.

“This war is medieval. Because someone for some reason decided to attack and seize the lands. And the herd left. I once served in the Soviet army beyond Baikal, so I perfectly understand their actions. When asked if such a great war was possible, he said yes. When asked what could happen, he claimed that first they would eat the dogs, and then they would rape the women. That’s what they are, Russians. People who are not civilized,” he continues.

However, Mr. Mykola believes that very soon the enemy will have a certain defeat, due to which the Russian empire will collapse.

“It will! But, unfortunately, this history is written with our blood. You need as many weapons as possible and hold on. We have everything else,” sums up the artist.

***

At the end of the meeting, the journalists of the “Evening Kyiv” publication took a photo with the Sologub family as a commemoration. And the very next day, the artist decided to transfer the selfie to the canvas.

By the way, Mykola Sologub’s exhibitions before the Great War were also held in the “Mandarin Plaza” shopping center on Baseniy Street. His exhibition was called “Reincarnations of Love”.

In those works, the viewer could see how love has changed over the centuries, through mythological and historical plots, through the perspective of writers and the creativity of artists who influenced Sologub’s series of works.

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