by Alla Lazareva
Ukrainian Week, November 2012

 Opening the exhibition of the works of Johann  Pinsel, a master of Ukrainian baroque sculpture, Guilhem
 Scherf, the curator of the exhibition and Head of the Sculpture Department in Louvre, explained:
"We are exhibiting the sculptures in the former  royal chapel which was built in the 17th  century. The atmosphere and overall spirit of the premises  ideally suit these wonderful sculptures. As a rule, we  do not open the windows during the exhibitions: the bright sunshine can harm paintings, but this is not the case with sculptures. This exceptional situation is only for the best..."

The exhibition of the renowned Ukrainian artist in the Louvre is also an exception. This is the first cooperation between the museum that is well-known all over the world and Ukraine. "This event has been in the making for three years," explained Scherf. "One of my friends, a French businessman, who was working in Lviv at that time, visited me, told me about Johann Pinsel and showed me reproductions of his works..."

The Ukrainian Week tried to discover the name of
the  foreign  benefactor from Scherf but  failed.
The Head of the Sculptures Department hesitated for
a  moment, but  refused: "I cannot do this  without
the approval of this person. And he is not looking for
glory for himself."

Oleh Pinchuk, sculptor and coordinator of restorative
work, willingly spoke with journalists. "Just about all
sculptures require restoration. This was very fine and
demanding  work, requiring  exceptional  skills",
he said.

The curator of the exhibition noted that "the cultural event would never have taken place without
the heroic efforts of Borys Voznytsky, who  has been collecting and  saving the masterpieces of Johann
Pinsel since 1960s. The art critic and former Director of the Lviv Art Gallery died tragically in a car
accident in May 2012. Thus, the exhibition was memorial and  dedicated to him. Borys Voznitsky's
daughter, Larysa, attended the exhibition opening. She left early, just after the arrival of Mykhailo Kulyniak,
                                                  Minister of Culture of Ukraine, possibly because of the painful circumstances.

Kulyniak also liked the comment made by Scherf of the exception made to open the windows. He stated that "this will allow Pinsel to see the extent to which the Louvres values his works", and also alluded to the window to Europe which the Pinsel exhibition had carved out for Ukraine.

However, the next Ukrainian-French artistic event will only take place in two years. It will be in Marseilles, not the Louvre, and will be dedicated to the art of Odesa. It's not as if Ukraine does not have anything to surprise the world with. But as Guilhem Scherf accurately stated: "Each art exhibition is a chain of successful meetings". In the case of Pinsel masterpieces the chain has come together successfully. Only time will tell if it will continue to grow with future exhibitions.

Tibo Brutten, an employee of the Louvres's Promotion Department, told The Ukrainian Week that the museum plans to expand its collection of work from Central and Eastern Europe. "More specifically, we shall be buying orthodox icons: Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian..." This project is in the early stages but we do not know when the new collection will be ready for viewing.

Ukrainian windows are only beginning to be found in the mass of Ukrainian masterpieces. These first rays of light, attention and interest are still an exception. A lot of work is needed for this exception to become the norm for cultural cooperation, and in time the norm would become a positive, stable tradition.

December 4, 2012

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