Any information received by our consciousness includes 80% of visual impressions. Few people think of how closely are we surrounded with images, factures and colours. Reality is too dense; therefore, a protective mechanism of 'seeing' has been invented to exist in it. Perhaps, that is why very few people resolve not only upon 'seeing', but upon 'apperceiving' as well. Much less of the people are able to divide their 'apperception' with others.

Professional localisation of such ability is not an occidental event in the field of culture. Having screened himself off from direct natural existence and having built an artificial environment, an individual attempts to apperceive self 'I' and the place of this 'I' in the world. Culture is a system where such apperception takes place. By the reason of inexplicable nature of its origin, culture is akin both o the nature and to the world: there are no apparent physiological grounds for it to exist in our life. No marvel that few people consciously elect the field of activities that does not yield food, dwelling, tangibles, but produces something not less essential instead. Such necessity baffles decoding and does not answer 'what is it all about?' and 'why?', does not carry any educative (factual) data. Culture joins private and general experience, bridges the past and future, allows us to elect a further way. The sphere of art changes not the world, but the way of its apperception, changes the vision of it. The sphere of art allows us to see and feel the unity of internal personal space with the surrounding world/space. 'Sphere' is a key word here, since we are going to talk of creativity of Mykola Zhuravel.

Already ancient Greeks treated 'the sphere' as a harmonic geometric body. A sphere represents the form of our Earth and eye; various divine essences have been placed and stars have been fixed onto a sphere; magic and air balls also has a spherical form. In works of Zhuravel, the sphere can represent a functioning model of the world ('Transsphere') and can be a hero of a picturesque painting ('Spheres in the Space'), and structural cells, separating a portion of the space, and atoms used to form the world.

The world originated in such way is the field of harmony and warmness. Here the life of his characters - sometimes naive, sometimes feeling sad a bit - transits. Any attempt to describe a picture or any other artwork of an artist is an Icarian undertaking. They (artworks) are beyond verbal-script treatment. A total of components from separate images does not provide strict casual determinacy between the picture, its object and name. The name and visual images are rather instruments in a jazz piece, each of them conducting its own theme. Such non-linear composition leaves no place for cold rationalism, discretion or irony. Just a spectator is able to merge these melodies into an emotional 'music of spheres'. Very often, the process is hardly discernible. Zhuravel's artworks have a rare gift of natural and non-forcible exhortation of co-feeling - empathy. Having seen 'a window' (pictures are really some outward or inward windows) with the high sky, with a panorama of sensuous warm existence, a natural aspiration arises to come nearer and to see what is further, beyond the first impression. A fancifully lineated plane turns into an open and multidimensional world, favourably tuned to an entrant. Houses, people, tables, fruits, flowers, chalices, spheres, flying and running machines, birds and fishes are the omens, associative signs of an amplitude of life. They are both recognisable and not at the same time. Pressure of sandpapery flow of everydayness, again and again erasing a particle of our life, is squeezed here by soaring over and in the space. The harmony turns material essence into spiritual images-symbols. Here, within a 'magic sphere' of Zhuravel, it is easy to breathe, here we have no burden of years and days sliding by. It is a wonder, but human measurement is thoroughly preserved nevertheless under such immensity and high degree of generalisation. Being in the large internal scope of works of the artist, an individual does not feel himself a negligible thing; on the contrary, he is commensurate with everything. In author's spiritual scale, the world of internal personal cosmos is equal to the surrounding world.

Stylistically, it is easy to trace the sources that have influenced over the artist. These are icon painting, archaic plastique, Boichuk and his school (the list is hardly comprehensive, but is of no importance). It is much more difficult to foist a living being, represented by creativity of N. Zhuravel, into a qualifying 'cell', into a certain framework. Perhaps, it is poetic figurative speech (realism?), where the truth of correct depiction is forced to retreat by the truth of feeling, by emotional purity of perception; or it is uncanonical spiritual painting, which symbolically depicts divine nature of the life and an individual. Life is the hero of Zuravel's pictures. To bring some gleam of the flame that demarcate inanimate, dead things from the living; to show the world as a living creature perhaps are the goals and sense of the artist's works.

Childhood is a remarkable period, where impressions are pure, where the consciousness perceives the environment directly, without any ready-made schemes and rules. Just the childhood is the time when our feelings are overflow with vitality of everything around us. The childhood goes fast, but each day of it is endless, full of mystery and discovery; it is the time when colours, smells and sounds are perceived very sharply. A wish to represtinate experiences of such strength, to renew inartificial ways of a child lives in each of us. This is 'the way home', a vector and pitchfork of a walk of life. This is in works: 'A Return Home', 'The Way Home', 'Presents for Son', 'Kindergarten', 'A Fly Over a Town'.

An attempt to separate the crux, which cannot be narrated or visualised but experienced only, from transitory husk is a dominant of this creativity.

The time that goes by changes the perception, approaches and estimates. Comparing early works of past years with today's ones, we see changes that took place during these ten years. Figures become slimmer and more dainty; they slowly loss their dense corporeity without losing their marrow. Gravitation is reduced; the space becomes live, flowing and transparent. Strokes of brush become more expressive, explosions of power centres of the colour becomes less constricted. Nevertheless, the harmony does not disappear.

Nothing found and made can be a solid foundation in the art. Experience of discontinuity of reality, most likely, impelled him to include studies of not only internal (personal, emotional), but also outer space together with the time flow in the field of artistic search. Thus, objects, levkas, land art projects have been emerged. 'Transsphere', 'Strata' and 'Sphere Conservation' have appeared. Levkas is an organic thing for M. Zhuravel. Some part of artworks in this style continues a brushwork series ('Still Life Against a Landscape Background', 'Winged Bulls'), while another part appeals to the traditional forms of icon painting ('Crucifixion', 'Diptych', Diptych-2'). A trend to develop rich pictorial possibilities of levkas (a special ground for painting) has initiated nascence of 'Fish', 'Genesis of Sphere', 'Flying Mountain'. Some desire to escape from determinacy of painting rectangle, to reveal essence, base (ground) of things in metaphorical sense. Planetariness of perception is expressed in aspiration of the artist to process not a single stratum of expression, but a plan of general content instead. Zuravel's levkases are like to objects for meditation; they represent natural quids (a mountain, river, the sky, a fish and the like) extracted into an artistic form. Images, deprived of coordinate ties with kitchen-sink, acquire features of archetypes. Speaking more generally, we can say that the artist reconstitutes a spiritual structure of the universe through a notional series of symbols.

Purified powerful tectonics and compression in resolving a surface produces images in the form of truncation where the time has lost signs of its presence. 'Transsphere' project may be used to illustrate geometrical, essential and visual results of the previously mentioned. Its module (a sphere on a trapezoidal support) symbolically represents interconnection and mutual penetration of spiritual and material worlds. 'Spherogramm', a computer programme (a trendiness) suggest different options to master the space. A metaphor, contained in the name of a sphere, is not accidental. 'Nectar Gathering' shows a variant of the happy Earth after the catharsis. This is a world without or rather after eschatological forefeeling and disasters that come true, the world of harmony reborn. This positivism may not be deemed naive, it is convictive by its level of integrity, sensual truth, accomplishment, which are present in each thing made by the Maitre. Rephrasing Brodsky: 'An artist is the eye of ens and its brush'.

By Andriy Gurenko, 2002.


Mykola Zhuravel was born in 1960 in Ukraine. Zhuravel graduated from the prestigious Kyiv State Arts Academy in 1989 and currently resides and works in Kyiv, Ukraine. The artist is a member of the National Artists' Union of Ukraine since 1995 and the BG-ART Association, the Kyiv-based artists' association, since 1999.



  • Personal exhibition the Apairy art project presentation for the 52nd Venice Festival of Contemporary Art, Soviart art gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine, booklet, video


  • Personal exhibition the Apairy art project, Zorya fine art gallery, Greenwich, USA, catalogue, documentary film
  • Group exhibition of photos: O. Glyadelov, I. Palamarchuk, M. Zhuravel, the Ukrainian Institute of America, New York, USA
  • Personal exhibition the Apairy performance, the Art-blues gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine, booklet, documentary film


  • Personal exhibition Retrospective review of M. Zhuravel projects, the Ukrainian Institute of America, New York, USA
  • Group exhibition 350 years later, Artists House, Kyiv, Ukraine


  • Personal painting exhibition, the Municipal Art Gallery, Kharkiv, Ukraine
  • The Apairy projects draft-exhibition, the Soviart Contemporary Art Center, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Personal painting exhibition, the L-Art gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Personal exhibition Four Steps: Zhuravel, Painting, Gallery ArtEast, Kyiv, Ukraine, catalogue


  • Art of Ukraine, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia, catalogue
  • Sophine Symbols of Being (part II); group exhibition with P. Bevza, O. Lytvynenko, M. Malyshko, N. Denysova, A. Hurenko, O. Fil, curated by P. Bevza. Hlibnya exhibition hall, Kyiv, Ukraine, catalogue


  • Sophine Symbols of Existence (part I); group exhibition with P. Bevza, O. Lytvynenko, M. Malyshko, O. Malyshko, N. Denysova, curated by P. Bevza, with text for the exhibition catalogue by S. Krymsky, Hlibnya exhibition hall, Kyiv, Ukraine, catalogue
  • Land-art, joint project with V. Shkarupa, H. Hidora, A. Bludov, village of Mohrytsia, Sumy region, Ukraine
  • Strata, levkas, Gallery 36, Kyiv, Ukraine


  • Group exhibition with R. Romanyshyn, O. Pinchuk, M. Pryimachenko, Yokohama Municipal Gallery, Japan


  • Group exhibition with M. Vaisberg and B. Eghiazarian, Bern, Switzerland


  • Group exhibition with Y. Solomko and O. Babak, Athelier Karas Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Personal exhibition of paintings, Gallery 36, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Personal exhibition of levkas works, Triptych Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Spherography-2, Soviart Gallery (photography, video, graphic art, objects), Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Joint exhibition with A. Bludov, Embassy of the United Kingdom, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Spherography-Spherogram, performance work (part of personal project TransSphere), BG-art Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Robinsoniad (performance work), with the support of the ARTaniya all-Ukrainian association, Khmel'nytsky, Ukraine


  • Joint exhibition with A. Bludov, Gallery 36, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Personal exhibition of paintings, Taras Shevchenko Museum, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Art-Festival, Authentic Melancholy, joint project with O. Babak, P. Honchar, curated by . Tytarenko, Taras Shevchenko Museum, Kyiv, Ukraine


  • Text Territory (part II), plein air performance work, Sviatohorsk reserve, curated by S. Teslo, . Orlova, Sviatohorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine


  • Text Territory (part I), plein air performance work, Sviatohorsk reserve, curated by S. Teslo, I. Orlova, Sviatohorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine
  • Joint exhibition with A. Bludov, Municipal Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine


  • Christmas Vernissage, Vesta-ART Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • The First All-Ukrainian Art Fair, Kyiv, Ukraine


  • Personal exhibition of paintings, Lions Club, Seligenstadt, Germany
  • ART-MYTH Art Fair, Moscow, Russia



  • First Place, the Ukrainian Painting Triennale, Kyiv, Ukraine


  • Awarded the Zolotyi Peretyn Prize and Artist of the Year title, First International ART Festival, Kyiv, Ukraine



  • George W. Bush
  • Yulia Tymoshenko
  • Morris J. Pinto
  • Volodymyr Shandra
  • Ralph C. Roe II


  • SoviArt Center for Contemporary Art, Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Taras Shevchenko Museum, Kyiv, Ukraine

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