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VYTINANKA – ART FROM POVERTY

Vytinanka got a great popularity in Belarus. Belarusian people used to call it “vyrazanka”, “vystryganka”. Peasants decorated their houses with vytinanka. Mostly women practiced this kind of art. They cut openwork patterns from big sheets of paper, that substituted for curtains (“firanka”), tables and shelves were covered with handmade lacy paper napkins. In the late 19th  century – the first half of the 20th century openwork paper patterns could be seen almost in every house. However, in Russia this kind of art wasn’t popular.

Vytinanka differs from applique, because it is composed mainly of one-piece paper and if you lift one edge of it, the whole composition will be lifted. It’s clear, that such fragile work of art can’t be left whole for a long time, that’s why vytinanka is not the object (work of art) itself but the technique of its creation. Particularly Belarusian vytinanka has the following features:

  • symmetry
  • ornamentality
  • usage of no more than three colors of paper in one composition
  • images and patterns are obtained when putting paper at various angles
  • even the most complicated images and patterns are obtained out of combination of simple geometrical forms

In Belarus vytinanka passes through its second birth. Vyacheslav Dubinka is considered to be one of the most famous masters of this kind of decorative and applied art. His works became a stimulus and a standard for many modern masters. Vycheslav Dubinka, a journalist by profession, started to cut from paper in the sixties, when the traditional vytinanka has been already out of use.

There wasn’t many material for the author to base his works on, that’s why he objectively had to search for his own style. Many Dubinka’s works are compositions with the plot, the sketches of everyday life, among which, however, one can find traditional Belarusian ornaments as well. The synthesis of silhouette and ornamental decorativeness – is his firm style. His works are mainly graphical, with a predominance of white, black and red colors.

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Nadia Buka – is one more modern Belarusian artist, for whom vytinanka became a starting point in creation of her own artistic style. Nadia calls her works “butinanka”, that comes from the first letters of her surname. It differs from the traditional Belarusian vytinanka because of the surreal plot and the absence of symmetry. Nadia buka, as well as Vyacheslav Dubinka, is a journalist by profession, but she also has artistic education.

Nadia was born and raised in Molodechno, she graduated from Molodechno State Music Specialized School named after M.K. Oginsky, where there is the only school of vytinanka in our country. For several years she was teaching vytinanka at Krasnenskaya school and while watching how children realized their fantasies in paper works she decided to transfer to paper her own world. In contrast to works of the majority of modern artists, Nadya’s works are not reflexive. She prefers to abstract from reality, creating her own private world with fictional characters.

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Two more representatives of Molodechno school, hereditary masters of vytinanka, sisters – Elizaveta and Natalia Chervontsevy. Elizaveta has been practicing vytinanka for more than 20 years already, she adopted her mother’s mastery. Her works are to be found in the funds of Minsk regional local museum in Molodechno, in State historico-cultural reserve -  museum “Zaslavl”, and also in private collections in Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Germany, USA, Japan, etc. Her sister, Natalia, has been teaching drawing and the theory of ornament in the Musical college named after M.K. Aginsky since 1996. She also represents Belarusian vytinanka on International contests and festivals of decorative and applied art.

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Artem Onaschenko
Author: Artem OnaschenkoWebsite: http://kyky.org/tvCountry: Belarus
Artem Onaschenko, 26 years, blogger, journalist. In 2009 I graduated from Institute of Journalism of Belarusian State University, faculty of mass media. I worked 5 years on state TV-channel (CTV), now I am a television editor of internet-portal about modern Belarusian culture kyky.org/tv, where I have my own blog as well. I'm keen on literature of post-modernism, Indie rock music and Art house films.

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