Tetyana Yablonska is a famous Ukrainian artist who received many different awards during her long creative life. Her works are distinguished by a special style, born under the influence of one of the trends in post-impressionism – synthetism. In addition, the art of Yablonska well a noticeable influence on folk art. Thanks to such a heterogeneous influence, her paintings were distinguished by their extraordinary colourfulness and expressiveness combined with the realism of the image and socially acute themes.

The future artist was born in 1917 in Smolensk, Russia. In many ways, her creative life was predetermined by her family, as her father was a famous artist, graphic artist and teacher of literature. The intellectual environment and anxious times associated with numerous changes in the life of the country put an imprint on both her personal life and creativity Yablonska. Her paternal grandfather was a priest, and this was a direct threat not only to the girl’s father but also to her entire family. As a result, the future artist’s father tried for many years to emigrate from the Soviet Union and take the family abroad.

When the girl was 11 years old, her family moved to Odessa, and after that to Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Ukraine. Both moves were connected with attempts to secretly get out of the country, as well as with the illness of the children – Tetyana and her brother and sister fell ill with pneumonia and had difficulty recovering. In this ancient city, Tetyana graduated from a seven-year school, and then in 1934 moved to Lugansk, Ukraine. At this point, her father’s attempts to get rid of the Soviet regime came to an end.

She began her art education a year later at the Kyiv Art Technical School. When it was closed a year later, the girl entered the painting department of the Kyiv State Art Institute (now the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture). She finished her studies in 1941. At that time she married an artist, seven years older, but family life was interrupted, barely begun – the war began.

Tetyana’s husband was taken to the front, and she, expecting her first child, was evacuated near Saratov, Russia. She worked in the collective farm on an equal footing with local women, and in her rare free moments, she painted portraits of fathers, husbands, sons and brothers who had not returned from the war – for memorial services. Her husband came back from the war alive, but life did not go well. Tetyana gave birth to another daughter, but the union broke up. She was already a famous artist at that time, and her husband never smiled at fame. Jealousy of success killed love.

Yablonska had not only a successful creative life but also an active career. During her lifetime she held many high positions and more than 30 solo exhibitions in the Soviet Union and beyond. However, her political position as an art official and deputy did not affect her active life position. She was a very brave woman who defended the artist’s right to self-expression. This attitude was seen as opposing the “will of the party” and led to numerous clashes with bureaucrats and party bosses. Yablonska was deprived of exhibitions, her paintings were removed from expositions, and she was removed from her posts. But even punitive measures could not change her attitude to art.  

The artist lived a long life, passing away at the age of 88. She painted her last painting “Bells” 24 hours before her death, having been in a wheelchair for six years after a stroke, semi-paralysed.

Her paintings are in many museums, and her family continued the traditions of the talented master.

In 1947, Tetyana Yablonska began teaching at the Kyiv State Art Institute. Yablonska would devote 26 years of her life to pedagogical activity and during this time she taught more than one generation of students who later became famous artists.

One of the first major works of the artist is called “The Enemy is Approaching”, which recreates sad scenes of evacuation, and tragic days of parting with his native city.

For the first time in this work, the author used the technique of diagonal composition, which would later be present in many of her paintings.

In the direction of socialist realism, the paintings were written with a plot, praising the inspired labour of Soviet people Among such paintings stands out the canvas “Bread”, created in 1949. Recognized as a masterpiece of its time, the painting became one of the visiting cards of the Tretyakov Gallery. The size of the canvas is 201 × 370 cm.

The idea for the work emerged during a summer internship at the advanced Soviet collective farm in the village of Letava. There Yablonska made more than 300 drawings and sketches. In the completed painting were depicted young cheerful girls in sunny golden colour, pouring grain from the new harvest into sacks. In this way, the artist affirms life, the joy of collective labour. For this large-scale canvas, the artist was awarded a prize. With this painting, she took part in the XXVIII International Art Exhibition in Venice (Biennale), and was also awarded a bronze medal at the World Exhibition in Brussels.

In 1977, another famous work by Yablonska – “Flax”, for which the artist was awarded the State Prize.

The background of a sunny summer landscape depicts a woman in the process of hard physical labour. The artist uses this contrast to emphasise the difficult conditions in which the flax crop was harvested. Yablonska painted the picture with enthusiasm because it brought back memories of her childhood, the fields of blooming flax and a long-standing song about this plant. Tetyana worked on the work for four years. In the studio at that time the artist had a real large sheaf of flax in front of her. The model was the middle daughter Olya.

A special theme of Yablonska’s creativity is happy motherhood and childhood. Among such paintings is “Spring”, which won an award. In a modest urban park in early spring near their mothers play children with its inherent directness, and ease. The cheerful games of children echo the cheerful mood of spring nature.

With the whole emotional and plastic structure of the painting and, above all, with its colouring, the artist tells his story about how good joyful peaceful life is. Yablonska herself was a mother of many children and generously shared her love and care with her daughters and grandchildren.

In 1952 Tetyana visited Armenia at the invitation of the examination committee of the Yerevan Art Institute. Then she was captivated by the country’s biblical history, majestic architecture, wise old people and, of course, Armenian painting. Armen Arshakovich Atayan, a local artist, soon became Tetyana’s second husband. A daughter Gayane was born in the marriage, but this union also broke up.

The painting “Morning” was highly praised by art critics, and enjoyed popularity for many years among viewers of different ages, and its reproductions were printed in major periodicals and textbooks.

Talking about the joyful atmosphere of the morning, sunlight pouring from the window, the artist through the image of the girl conveys human warmth, soulfulness, clarity and freshness of perception of the world. Yablonska’s eldest daughter Elena posed for the painting. The work played a special role in the personal life of its protagonist. Elena, while studying at the Moscow State Academy of Art and Industry named after S. G. Stroganov at the faculty of decorative fabric design, met a young artist from Kazakhstan, Arsen Beisembinov. Being still a boy, he fell in love with the girl from the reproduction of the painting “Morning”, which hung in his house. Elena and Arsen got married and moved to Kazakhstan, where they had a son, Zangar, who also became an artist.

Tetyana Yablonska painted many children’s portraits, depicting children warmed by their mother’s warmth. Each painting revealed a new page of the children’s world: their interest in the surrounding life, and their passion for books and drawing.

The theme of family is inextricably linked to motherhood and childhood. A new series of works appeared in Yablonska’s work, thanks to a trip to Zakarpatia – the south-eastern region of Ukraine in the late 50s of the XX century. There arose a decorative style, which Tetyana Yablonska actively used for a whole decade. It is characterised by the desire for open colour, the contrast of spots, the solution of a limited depth of space, “close-up”, monumentality and plasticity of form.

One of the most enigmatic paintings in Yablonska’s creative work, “Youth”, painted in a peculiar surrealist manner, stands apart. A sparing landscape, restrained colour, the lonely figure of a young man with a bag on his shoulder, with his back turned… A small lake stands out on the canvas as a bright light blue spot. Its colour and shape give the painting mystery.

In the 70s of the last century, Yablonska began the Impressionist period in painting, which is inextricably linked with nature and its lyrical motifs. The prerequisite for the emergence of the style was a trip to Italy in 1972, during which Tetyana Yablonska became acquainted with the art of the early Italian Renaissance. Once again in the work of the painter the technique of painting changes. In the work “Evening. Old Florence” Yablonska uses his favourite window motif. The artist in the centre of the composition has positioned her figure with her back to the viewer, showing herself sitting at the open window of the hotel. But the viewer’s gaze is not focused on the interior of the room, but on the beauty of the ancient city and its architecture. From this time in the work of Yablonska leading genre becomes landscape.

The artist chooses quiet, chamber-like subjects and motifs for his new works. These are natural gardens in bloom and old oak trees, porches and roofs of wooden houses, and ordinary residential interiors. In such works, Yablonska turns to deep tonal painting, in which colour, light vibration, and active texture take the leading place. These discoveries helped the author express her poetic feelings and convey various moods and experiences. The painting “Old Apple Tree”, painted by a mature artist, carries his philosophy of the cycle of life in nature.

Tetyana Yablonska lived the last 16 years of her life difficultly—a heart attack, then a stroke, after which her right arm collapsed. The artist, despite everything, continued to love life and enjoy every day. She learnt to paint with her left hand, replacing the brush with pastels. For the last six years, without leaving her flat, Tetyana painted still lifes, simple in subject, but full of inner light and life reflected in the objects themselves.

Currently, the artist’s paintings are kept in museums of the former USSR countries, and private collections in Europe and the USA. Her works are sold at the world’s largest auctions.

Celebrating the Art of Tetyana Yablonska at Malab’Art Gallery, London

The Malab’Art Gallery in London is currently showcasing an extraordinary collection of artworks by the esteemed Ukrainian artist Tetyana Yablonska. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience the unique stylistic and creative vision that defines Yablonska’s legacy.

Tetyana Yablonska’s artistic style is a harmonious blend of post-impressionism, particularly synthetism, and traditional folk art influences. Her works are known for their vibrant color palettes and expressive compositions, capturing the essence of Ukrainian culture and the resilience of its people.

In the featured collection at Malab’Art Gallery, visitors can observe Yablonska’s masterful use of line and color to convey deep emotional and narrative content.

The pictures showcase Yablonska’s ability to capture intimate, everyday moments with a simplicity that is both powerful and evocative. The use of bold outlines and a limited color palette emphasizes the warmth and closeness between the figures, highlighting the artist’s talent in portraying human relationships with grace and tenderness.

The collection is a testament to Yablonska’s skill in capturing the essence of her subjects with minimalistic yet expressive strokes. The delicate interplay of pinks and purples against the black lines adds a whimsical quality to the portrait, reflecting her ability to infuse everyday scenes with a sense of joy and wonder.

Yablonska’s work is deeply rooted in her cultural heritage and personal experiences, often depicting themes of motherhood, childhood, and rural life. Her artistic journey was marked by both personal and political challenges, yet she remained unwavering in her commitment to authentic self-expression.

The exhibition at Malab’Art Gallery offers a comprehensive look at Tetyana Yablonska’s diverse body of work, celebrating her contribution to Ukrainian art and her enduring influence on future generations of artists.


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