Author: Lyuba Yatskiv

Venue: Lviv, str. Virmenska 26

Date: 2019-04-20 - 2019-04-20

‘Whatever the word tells of the tale, painting shows silently by means of imitation’

(Doctrine 6 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, 787 AD)


In selecting a theme for the new exposition, the icon painter Lyuba Yatskiv chose the symbolic title of Beginning-Renewal, which is present in famous scenes of the Old and New Testaments. The author treats the iconography of ‘Creation of the World’, ‘Noah’s Ark’, ‘St. David the Prophet, ‘Annunciation’, ‘The Flight into Egypt’, ‘St. John the Baptist ‘Angel of the Desert’, ‘Myrrhbearers’ as evidence of certain initial stages of sacred history. The symbolic title ‘Renewal’ also corresponds to the iconography of the works, an alternative to the ancient one.

Expanding the subject, the artist is guided by the principle of observance of the canonical theological text, which accompanies the depicted event. At the same time, Lyuba Yatskiv uses numerous narrative symbols-signs. Paying tribute to theology, the author boldly composes, creating new compositional and iconographic meanings. She fragments the iconography, choosing only sign elements from a particular plot. Such an author's approach becomes a style-forming one - the artist's icons are redefined in a new paradigm of time and perception.

The artist works according to the ‘text’; yes, ‘Noah’s Ark’ is a contexture of animals, birds, reptiles in the lower part of the image, over which the Old Testament Noah covers his family with open arms – his wife and three sons with their wives. The author emphasizes the meaning of the event with a stylized symbol – the Temple, as a place of the heavenly abode. This very sign – the Temple in the boat with the Holy Spirit present there in the form of the Dove is the main compositional and iconographic accent. We see a similar author’s visualization in the ‘The Flight into Egypt’ icon: in the central part – almost ‘portrait’ images of the Holy Family (only the faces of Mary and Joseph, looking at Jesus); in the upper part is a fragment of the angel bringing the news, at the bottom – the faces of the newborns executed by Herod with a distraught mother …

One innovation of Lyuba Yatskiv icon painting is an expressive ‘Ukrainization’ of the plots – the author uses many inscriptions in the Ukrainian language (not Church Slavonic or Latin) – these are quotations from the Holy Scripture that carry an informative load and, at the same time, are decorative elements. In particular, in the ‘Creation of the World’, the leading idea is the ‘WORD’. The inscription is framed by an octagonal Bethlehem star symbolizing the Birth of Jesus. All further iconography is also revealed through the inscriptions – each of the seven days is designated with them, as well as the acts of the Father.

Characteristic for the creative style of Lyuba Yatskiv is an impeccable painting, which is, moreover, generalized, rhythmic and quite narrative. The magnitude of the faces and the expressive gesture of the depicted saints focuses attention on their essence and feelings. The expression ‘when hands speak’ really refers to this iconography. The composite integrity created from faces and hands is always narrative, and at the same time, decorative and aesthetic. A special color completes the author’s language. The artist works not in painting but in a drawing style. Therefore, its color is always slightly colored in harmony with large tonal accents. Particular attention is given to faces – they are often monochrome but clearly contoured with light and shade. This very minimalist painting amplifies the sound of the used color, which we always perceive in comparison with almost monochrome planes.

The icon painting of the artist impresses us, first of all, with its innovation of iconography. At the same time, it is a virtuoso monumental drawing with thoughtful coloring. Moreover, it is its own, formed by a long creative search, a style where the perfect plastic art of hands is rhythmically coupled with the dynamics of the sacred vestments of the saints and timely framed by a specific inscription or sign. This is an elevated form of expressiveness, filled with goodness of thought and sincerity of feelings …

I would urge admirers of the creative work of Lyuba Yatskiv to read the symbols of her iconography and take in the spiritual empathy, streaming through the painter’s delicate and complete style.

                                                                                                  Oksana Romaniv-Triska