Hardly known until quite recently in broad artistic circles Bohdan Panchyshyn ventured his personal exhibition at Lviv National Museum and immediately became the object of discussions, hot debates, and, ultimately, favourable reviews. The painter in our tempestuous age has remained the continuator of old-established art traditions, preserving, however, the emotional storytelling character of his paintings, consequently, close connection with nature, the historical past and the spiritual treasure-house of its people developed through centuries. Indeed, in the time of total experimentation when all artistic values that have been acquired forbearingly and with inspiration are neglected, Bohdan's debut was a hopeful ray of light. The things that are within the artist's eyeshot conceal the inevitable course of history that captures in its tragic circle; where the fates of sorrow and wild enthusiasm are parallel, since terror, tragedy and impasse engender spontaneous protest, enhancing, thus, the activity energy or even exultation because of defeating the opposite. This appears particularly evident when we mean the collision of those opposites at the recent collapse of our invincibly evil soviet society.
For the majority of the artists this collapse was a great surprise: the time demanded radical changes in the artists' creative process. Panchyshyn Bohdan accepted these changes as inescapable. What is more, his life path was not a smooth one from the very outset when in the early 1980ies right after graduating from Lviv Arts and Crafts Institute the perspective of complete subordination to the official doctrine was hanging over him. However, the young painter was strong enough to rise above the spiritual violence of that time and find the secluded off-the-beaten-track place avoiding, thus, the insincere role-playing and hypocrisy. Bohdan Panchyshyn would create the paintings imbued with poetic lyrics; he himself would be entirely charmed by the mysteriousness of nature replenishing it with his inner monologues that would embrace the past and the present. Nevertheless, he aspires to catch the myriads of our ancestors' glorious deeds and pass them to his contemporaries in the poetic-romantic aureole. In fact, Bohdan never goes deep into history, though the antiquity obviously appeals to and inspires him so much that he draws the times of yore nearer and enlivens our imagination by portraying the majestic nature penetrated with religious feelings and unrealizable strivings.
In his paintings Bohdan first and foremost yields to the torrent of passion and sentiments inundating his time space. He creates pictorial poems where quite a few things are usually vague and inexpressible, partly menacing and obscure (this undoubtedly justifies the strictures and discouragement of his works in Soviet times). Frankly speaking, it is not easy to find any correspondence of his romantic bent even to Ukrainian traditional art, not to mention the modern paintings. However, the organic ties with the national customs and again with the modern trends are preserved in his figurative thinking and the poetically coloured manner.
Obviously, Panchyshyn prefers emotions, thirst for life and the penetration into the mystery of the subconscious that is hidden away from the rational perception alongside with dreams and imagination, what, in fact, has become his leading principle.
In his paintings he uses the world art heritage that is spiritually close to his mentality and makes it his own acquisition. Its esthetic and plastic norms with their dynamics and subjectivity, the lighting effects and colour expressiveness have become inseparable from Bohdan's creative process, the letter being in absolute concordance with his nature - whole and invariable though versatile, since he manages alongside with paintings to successfully work at poetry, these two aspects being in harmonious synthetic unity. The word, the refined thought, the magic of the verse enables him to express what is inexpressible within the power of art.
The heavenly spots even in romantic manner are absent in Bohdan's landscapes, but the presence of a human is indispensable. Striving for the objective interpretation of nature the artist personifies everything that emerges in his sight: the trees and mountains, the lakes and clouds that actively participate in people's emotional life and acquire new meaningful expression. To perceive the character of Panchyshyn's landscapes one should consider the peculiarities of his artistic individual intrinsic in unique imagination. Inclined to self-analysis he juxtaposes the diametrically opposite phenomena, for instance, the Bible and the recent bloody epopee of the punitive regime; or the New Testament with the ideological directives of soviet reality and its behind-the-scenes unprecedented massacres, as well as the epic of agony - Ukraine and Siberia or Hope and Damnation, in other words. Thousands of unsubdued Ukrainian patriots suffered in snowed up concentration camps but never repented - Shevchenko's will infused them with hope and fortitude. One of the most deeply moving paintings "A Ukrainian Wedding" tells us about this. There as well used to be quite an opposite thing - betrayal, when the fellow countrymen denounced to get some miserable coins in return. In such a way Bohdan's mother, a young seventeen-year's old girl, was betrayed by her neighbours for forty karbovanets. The denunciations of this kind occurred quite frequently, and Bohdan used to ask himself about its reasons: was it fear, interest or just sheer villainy? And why are there such irreconcilable extremities within one family? We find him contemplating in one of his poems:
Our blood pulsation is kindness.
Why not all the kind gather by the abyss of eternity?
But who will be the ones to crucify the Christ?
In both cases there is too much to be elucidated: the ever-lasting struggle of Good and Evil, the Truth and a Lie, Life and Death. Bohdan resorts to philosophical meditations by creating romantic visions with the elements of invisibility and omission. In a painting he endeavours to reflect his inner visions first, so that its effect is equal to that of a piece of music or poetry and inspires, thus, concrete ideas. The artist knows perfectly well the lure of such creative method as it conceals broader horizons for poetic imagination and reinterpretation. The only difficulty is in developing the system of the means of expressions to preserve the descriptive value and the meaning element. Thus, the pictorial-figurative system worked out by Panchyshyn is up to the mark owing to its persuasiveness, and at this stage entirely corresponds to the incarnation of his conceptions. One can feel its affinity to the art of romanticists and symbolists, though the painter does not aim at inlaying his creative work into Procrustean bed of any style.
However, the reaction to the social realism as well as to the self-admiring modernism is explicitly appreciable in his paintings. The allegoric, mystic and esoteric thematics of Bohdan's works correspond to romanticism, while symbolism is responsible for the literary conception, a symbol being the category of the content. Unlike the artists of the 19l and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Panchyshyn does not avert his face from his epoch and creates his symbols spontaneously; besides, the daily life constantly dictates the themes where there is something indeterminate and unfathomable, or just its allusion. His creative nature is overwhelmed with striking energy; it worships the sun, the women's beauty and his parents' fate that has become a sacred ray of light illuminating the life path of his children and his own one.
With this plakhta I will cover the constancy of my memory,
The sprouts of my father's graft, my mother's worry,
My daughter's first steps, my brother's bounty,
And the wise silence of those who've passed away.
Bohdan was born on the 17-th of October, 1958 in the village of Lubyana, Lviv oblast. His father was a village toiler and had a bent for drawing. Joined the insurgent army and was wounded in 1946. On returning to Lviv began working in the advertising agency, soon was arrested and sentenced to 10 years of concentration camps together with his wife in Kolyma. Bohdan finished the secondary school in the town of Mykolayiv, not far from Lviv, being instructed simultaneously by the amateurish painter who passed him a lot of skills. "My father wanted me to be a painter", Bohdan mentions.
In 1976 he entered the Faculty of Interior Design, and his teacher of painting was Teofil Maksysko, an honest and sincere artist. In 1981, after graduating from the Institute, Bohdan was called up. During his military service he drew the portraits for all comers as well as the icons for the officers who had just come back from Afghanistan. Soon after his service Panchyshyn painted in the churches of Moldova and Lvivshchyna. "Married, have two daughters", says Bohdan.
He has been keen on sky watching since his childhood in any weather or time of a year.
This explains the versatility of his cloud motives which reveal the artist's spiritual-poetic fixing. By this object Bohdan realises his conception of the beautiful and majestic combined with the feeling for the infinite, menacing and pained.
There can be two ways of perfecting one's mastery: both studying and imitating the works of the prominent painters and being in search of one's own way. Usually these two ways interlace, and for Bohdan the preservation of the spiritual alongside with the seeking for the proper lighting and colour effects appears of the first magnitude. Sometimes it may occur that once fortunately discovered painting effects are applied exceedingly, this situation is, however, smoothed by the artistic taste and more critical attitude towards one's creative work and is rewarded, to a certain extent, by the creative surroundings and the atmosphere of the active artistic intercourse.
Bohdan himself speaks of his creative work modestly still sagaciously: "There are periods in the history of art which I particularly revere, the Renaissance age, for instance. I strived to imitate Boticelli, whom I still adore. Bosch and Salvador Dali as well fascinated me. What concerns history, the time of scythes and antes appeals to me much...
The theme of heaven occurred to me when I was ten. There in my village the people used to prey a lot. At that time the heaven was participating with their prayers and it always appears the world between the cosmos and the earth. I paint the sky from memory and usually give a cloud the implication since the latter may symbolize a pending menacing rock. Cosmogony in paintings is my personal conception of God who is unique in the heart of any artist.
Everything is regularity in this life, everything is caused by Providence and, as a rule, we are not ready for the changes in our life.
In the Bible, in the Revelations, such phenomenon as Chornobyl is prophesied.
My time's longitude is on the scale of eternity...
The burden of the dusted boots.
The doomsday's repentance.
I wish I read the Gospels one more time.
I have to remind people about God and the cosmic phenomena.
In "Confession" the moment of unreserved revelation of the deepest feelings of one's soul is really impressive and powerful. What impels us to confession? Thus, Saul, an ardent prosecutor of the Christians became the assiduous apostle Paul. How could that happen? I try to catch the spirit of an event, a stone, a bush - all disguises the meditation upon eternity. I love paint, love to draw canvas onto the subframe, to prime and set to work."
Doctor of Arts, professor