Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ukraine - The Ukrainian "Michelangelo”

Western Ukraine is the homeland of one of the most profound and intriguing altar sculptors of the 18th century – the famous artist known as Master Johann Pinzel (1751 – 1770s). Master Pinzel, whose real name remains a mystery, is most known as the founder of “Lviv Rococo” style in art and the author of beautiful altars and sculptures he made in Buchach and Horodenka. The famous sculptor, was rightfully named the ‘Ukrainian Da Vinci Code.’ “Mysterious” he is, in a very literal meaning of this word. We do not know where the sculptor was born, where he was trained, to which lands he traveled, where and when he died. We do not even know for sure how to spell correctly his first and middle name. The Polish spelling gives us “Jan Jerzy” (pronounced yan yezhi); the German spelling suggests “Johann Georg.” But if he was of Ukrainian descent he could have been “Ivan.” Pinzel is all we have for certain. And his amazing sculptures which can be seen on the facade of the Cathedral of St Jura (George) in the city of Lviv, in the Museum of the Sacral Arts, in the Art Museum of the city of Ternopil, and in the town of Buchach. We know that Pinzel’s art flourished in the mid-eighteenth century and that he must have died in the 1770s. We know that he decorated with his sculptures churches and city halls in the towns and villages of Monastyryska, Horodenka, Hodovytsya, Pidkamin and Zolochev. We know that he worked mostly in Buchach in the 1740s and 1750s, and spent the final years of his life in Lviv. We know that he created sculpture for the City Hall in Buchach for both Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Pinzel’s works are so original that they do not fit any art trend of the eighteenth century and no other sculptor of his time can be found who would rival the power of his images. They are distant echoes of High Baroque in Pinzel’s works, and at the same time they look like precursors of the twentieth-century art movement of Expressionism. Pinzel produced a series of works of unrivalled virtuosity, completely emancipated from the material in which they were created — plasterwork, stone and wood. Pinzel’s characteristic formula of sculpture can be described as throwing the draperies into a violent turmoil, the complicated and broken involutions of which are not rationally explained by the figure’s real bodily movement but seem paroxysmally informed by the miracle itself. The stamps depicting the paintings of Pinzel, namely ‘Mother of God” and ‘The Angel’ were released in Ukraine to commemorate this great Artist. Michael sent me this FDC.

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