Biography of Rostyslav Koterlin (Ivano-Frankivsk). The material was created with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.

I was born on the 5th of May in Ivano-Frankivsk in a family of workers as it was used to be said. And although I am ironic about various numerology theories, I learned at a young age that Kierkegaard and Marx were also born on the 5th of May; however, on average, about 150 years earlier. I lead this to the fact that I was always interested in philosophy no less than in art, especially at young ages.

Regarding that 5th of May, I still hear Kierkegaard and Marx with some special inner feeling. I hear not texts, but them as people. And if I had the opportunity to experience Marx’s dialectic directly during the 25 years of my life in the USSR, because I began my career as a worker at a valve plant, Kierkegaard’s mystical existentialism was a kind of window for me to escape the oppressive reality at that time. 

I have always liked Ivano-Frankivsk as a city. I still live here, and I am very happy about it. I often had an opportunity to change my residence place, but I did not do that, and I don’t regret it. The place of residence should be native and comfortable. For me, this is when you can walk around the whole city, and you do not need to worry about public transport unless you are in a hurry. Cycling or walking is very good. 

Rostyslav Koterlin, 25.08.1967


Ivano-Frankivsk is located between two Bystrytsia rivers: the Bystrytsia-Solotvynska and the Bystrytsia-Nadvirnyanska. This is a kind of Mesopotamia. I remember that summer vacations were daily trips to a river to fish or swim or dive when I was a little boy. And it was very cool. However, I remember very well how I almost drowned once. The flood washed away the river banks, and willow trees were fallen under the water. I jumped safely from the bank and decided to swim a bit underwater. The current carried me under those willows. I struggled under the water, tried to come to the surface, and the trunk of the tree did not let me go. The water was clear, and I saw the sky above me and the sun; I could push my hands to the surface, but not my head. The horror made my hair stand on ends under the water. At some point, it flashed in my head that the end has come. And precisely at that moment, some inner feeling told me to relax and to succumb to the current. Although I had already swallowed a lot of water, that was the rescue since the water carried me out relaxed to the surface from under that willow. It was a lesson, and now I am aware of the importance of succumbing to the current and the life flow. It will take you where you need to.

“We are 52 million”, Bystrytsia-Nadvirnyanska, August 1998 (the cover of the magazine “Kinets Kintsem” #1)


And these rivers remain, and they are essential for our city. They flow from the mountains, and despite the excess of trash at the banks, the water is often clean and fresh.  In the early ‚90s, Yaroslav Yanovsky, Vesela Naidenova, and I did some ecological projects at the river. Then, we took pictures. In 1998, before Independence Day, I organized the event “We are 52 million” on the bank of the Bystrytsia-Nadvirnyanska to take a calendar picture for the first issue of the almanach “Kinets Kintsem.” Ideally, I wanted to undress all our artistic party at the background of a long Ukrainian flag. I wanted to place there the naked president Kuchma of that time. But the picture turned out to be somehow undisciplined and anarchic — those who were more relaxed undressed. Ten years later and also last year — when 20 years have passed — we repeated this event, however, with a certain nostalgia but not with the less amount of drinks. 

The city was closed before the Independence. In fact, there were no foreigners here, and apparently, it was sadder. However, I could travel to former Soviet Poland in my childhood. My parents’ relatives: my mother’s brother and sister, and my father’s sister were deported for forced labour to Germany during the War. They met the same Polish Gastarbeiters there. After the War, all three started families and stayed in Poland. So I visited my relatives from time to time, and it was a way out for me. 

Father Vasyl, older brother Ihor, mother Iryna, 1980


As kids, we went swimming in the river and watched as international trains passed across the bridge. At that time, there were “Bucharest — Warsaw” and “Warsaw — Warna” trains. And we, the Soviet children, looked at those trains as something unique and mysterious because the border was a mystery and a closed topic back then. You start to remember these things when you are thinking about who a painter is and why he is doing his job that is ungrateful sometimes. 

A painter works with different topics, but that train was like a metaphor for the road to another world and the unknown. I understand how difficult it is for children who grow up somewhere in the countryside: in villages or small towns, where there is nothing at all. There are daily routines and emptiness; there are not interesting events or phenomena, almost impossible to switch to another option, another vision, or imagine another world. Only books remain. I had this option in childhood but often suffered from excessive vulnerability and sensitivity. Both good and bad things confused me equally. I remember how I could not sleep for a long time at night when I offended someone or witnessed another child’s humiliation, and I did not have enough strength and courage to stop it.

One of the first oil self-portraits on cardboard, 50×40 cm, 1983


I have always been amazed by simple things, and that was the hardest part. All children simply accepted some axioms or rules of faith, memorized them — and that’s it.  I could never come to terms with the fact that everything is so simple. I was looking for difficulties in simple things; I had great doubts about any simplicity. I was looking for what was behind it. For the most part, I went astray without understanding anything.  

Ever since I can remember, I always drew. It was easy for me. In 1977, I entered a children’s art school, where there were outstanding teachers at that time. Actually, they were those people who gave me a strong push. Volodymyr Kyzylov, Mykola Vechirko, Mykola Bilchuk, and later Orest Zaborskyi — they saw in me that creative zinger and pushed me into art tolerantly. Firstly, children work with a craft. You have to learn to do something and to want to be an artist. The teachers could combine it very subtly: to give a craft without obscuring the world’s sense of mystery. After all, we all lived in the Soviet system, and it was very sad. Our teachers created a kind of Castalia in the art school, where you could escape from high school’s daily routine. You could find yourself in a completely different environment: the squeak of pencils, the smell of paints, the teacher reads a book quietly, prompts something, and tells. It was like magic lessons for us. And it is very memorable for me, and I appreciate those people. They taught how to move on in the atmosphere created by them thanks to art.

“Happy New Year!” 42.5×58 cm, Mixed technique, 2018


The city was boring before the Soviet perestroika. There was nothing special or interesting. I spent most of my teenage and youth time not on the streets, but in some Soviet unfinished buildings, forbidden zones of military units. With a few friends, we did a lot of sports, tested ourselves for courage. These were both jumps from the tower into the water on a city lake and jumps from the 3rd floor of the unfinished building on the solid ground. We pretended to be stuntmen, we jumped on empty freight trains on the way, and then jumped to the ground — often into some ditches or swamps. I got several dozens of injuries at that age, but I felt like a fish in water in the adventures. However, I always felt lonely, timid, and shy among people.

Of course, I loved going to the museums because these were mysterious places for solitude and reflection. I also went to the cinema, but the rental was very limited: Indian, Soviet and French comedies. And this was adolescence, and I had to watch so-called movies under sixteen years. There were also already attempts to pretend that I was older, and of course, erotic motivations were also present. You will not escape from this, even in a closed city, where everything must be strict and orderly. 

My art school teacher Mykola Vechirko advised me to enter the Odessa Art School. Still, I had very low self-esteem, I was very timid, and, in general, I didn’t want to move anymore, and that’s why it was challenging to make a decision. I had studied for ten years, and after finishing middle school, I went to enter the Lviv State Institute of Applied and Decorative Art — that how it was called then. I really liked the atmosphere there, and since I was not preparing for the exams, I got a well-deserved mark “2” in the first exam for drawing a portrait. Of course, I was very upset. I began to work very carefully, set a task to myself —  no day without a drawing. 

In one year, I went through a colossal school. I took private lessons, where I was taught by Orest Zaborskyi, a drawing teacher at the Art School. 

“The Artist”, oil, canvas, 180×180 cm, 2012


I asked all my friends, acquaintances, and girlfriends to undress or just pose for a portrait. I painted portraits of my parents and self-portraits. There were about six hours of drawing every day. When I applied to the same Institute the second year in a row, the admissions committee thought that I had graduated from the Kosovo Technical School or some art school. They took me to the dean, praised me for good drawings, and told him that he should accept this entrant to study. 

But I did not get along with the dean. He was a man prone to corruption. In the end, it was almost impossible to enter that Institute without a bribe. In general, in those days, Lviv was famous for subtle corruption. I got marks “4” for particular subjects, and then I failed the writing task. In autumn, I went to serve in the army, like all young men in Soviet times. Two years in the military are a perfect way to become tempered.  

I got to serve abroad in the former GDR (German Democratic Republic) as a grenadier. It was a different experience, but I also drew a lot in the army. Even in the first days of serving, the commissar came to me and asked, “Who are you? Are you a painter? Can you draw a naked woman? Draw a portrait!” I made a few sketches, and it determined my further service. 

«Mondo Cane», mixed technique, canvas, 120×120 cm, 2013


The first year was a bit difficult. I was not only a painter but also an ordinary soldier. I had to go to shootings, patrols, and guard duties, and draw some Leninist rooms. 

Then it became easier to serve because the ability to draw in an army environment is a different status. I drew many portraits of soldiers. 

In my youth, I perceived my status very romantically. Now I do not think that an artist is someone special compared to other people. Then it was a path to secrets for me. I understood it too naively, romantically, with youthful maximalism, fascinated by myths about artists’ great art and life. Everyone goes through this stage. Now it is different — this path continues, but it is already meaningful. A true artist is like a stray dog, wild and free, keen, with a strong sense of smell, and intelligent eyes. Instead, all this fine art, salon — these are such domesticated, fattened dogs, mostly very arrogant. 

After the army, I applied to the university again, and there was a story that changed me. I drew a picture perfectly at once, and I also had glorious army characteristics. I applied for the preparatory course, and everything seemed to be going ideally. I was enrolled. However, they enrolled me but did not call for study when it started because someone else was accepted instead of me for a bribe, and they put me on the waiting list. 

And it was already “perestroika,” 1986. When I was told about this, there was a strong feeling of injustice. I approached the dean, with whom I had experience in previous years; however, he was rude to me. As a result, I threatened to write a letter to “Komsomolskaya Pravda,” and he started pushing me. I swung my hand, and he ran away from the office. 

I was not accepted. I applied again at the general rights and got a mark “2” immediately. After that, I stopped applying to universities. 

“Man-Man”, oils, canvas, 150×210 cm, 2019


I got a mark “2” because of that conflict. All who were applying to the university together with me were surprised. A year later, the dean was fired, and a criminal case was opened. His family name was Amirov. He was a party secretary and real corruptor. 

I tried to enter art universities seven times. I also applied to the Kyiv Art Institute in 1990, but I took my documents back in the middle of the examination processes. Intuitively, I felt that it was not my time, and something was wrong. Then, I experienced how mystically consciousness left my own body just during the painting exam. I remember watching myself and other applicants from above and from the side. It seemed like consciousness allowed me to look at the mechanic of my own alive body from different angles. It is a well-known experience, but it stunned me. In general, I felt devastated; I had no ambitions and desires. To the great surprise of the teachers, I took my documents and went home. Then I continued to work on my own. Although I still wanted to study at that time, the diploma papers were very important; they still work, but they are not that relevant. At that time, it was impossible to find an artist’s job and build a career without a diploma.  

“2017”, oils, canvas, 150×150 cm, 2017


After failures with universities, I did not want to apply again. I started working, and I became a drawing teacher in a children’s group at the People’s House Knyahynyn. At the same time, I got a workshop there and started working as a painter independently. My friend and buddy Nazar Kardash and I took sketch-books and went out of the city to draw landscapes, sunsets, and fields. Often, we draw portraits of Nazar’s classmates or lovely students of the art and graphic faculty where he studied. It was one of the best periods in my life, although the ‚90s had already begun, and it was difficult to survive. 

My friends helped me, and the most important thing is that my parents supported me and understood my sufferings with entering universities and saw that I did not want to change anything, only to stay in art. 

My parents supported me; they were very tolerant, kind, and honest people. They are ordinary people but endowed with high inner culture. 

“Old, sick and children,” papier-mâché, mixed technique, 2012


It also fits well with the incredible theories of quantum physics about how subatomic particles can choose certain shapes, like a form or a matrix, when it is the most convenient for them at a particular time in a particular environment. Physicists study such processes using microparticles, and we can see this among people in any society.

Dreams were and remain valuable to me. I often have prophetic dreams. It happens when you realize that you are sleeping, but you can see the events and pictures that come true over time.

“Independence, “ oils, canvas, 30×100 cm, 2013


When I had an exhibition in Venice in 2018, I even knew what interior was waiting for me since I had seen this place in a dream two years before. When I was 23-24 years old, I realized that we are limited only by the body. Time is you, and space is always open. We are free to move within consciousness in time back and forth, to the past and future. Obviously, some Hindus know more about it, and I am convinced that these are real things. It is essential to feel the connection with the world, and then the possibility of movement will open up. In 1991, I painted a picture of this feeling and called it “The arrows fired at St. Sebastian have not reached their aim.” Such a moment, when the arrows have not reached the aim and Sebastian is not a saint yet, but he is ready to die and dissolve in nature already. 

In 1992, I decided to enter the university again, but not the art one. Anatolii Zvizhynskyi, who was and still is my friend, went to join the Kyiv Art Academy. I applied to the Institute of Journalism of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. I met completely different people and teachers there. 

There was an interesting story. Yaroslav Yanovskyi and I were not allowed to take the first exam because the post-office delivered our documents to the admission committee with a significant delay. At that time, the director of the Institute of Journalism was Anatolii Zakharovych Moskalenko. Besides, he was a co-father-in-law of President Kravchuk. Spontaneously, he decided to make a separate exam for two persons. He was a very free, democratic, and extremely open-minded person. He saw two guys who came from Galychyna. With the help of the student who worked in the admissions committee, he asked us to come to the university. It was in the evening already. He was sitting and waiting for us when we came up. We were already quite relaxed with beer and wine. He took us to a large room, asked to take sits in opposite corners, and gave us half an hour to write an essay “Why I was late for the creative competition.” 

«Eon», oils, canvas, 150×55 cm, 2018


I remember that I was a hooligan in writing that essay. The student from the admission committee lived next to us in the dormitory, and on the next day, he told me that Moskalenko liked my writing so much and he would definitely accept me if I do not get a mark of “2” for other subjects. I applied to the university without preparation, forgot the whole school program, got “4” and “3” marks, but I did not get the possibility to study full-time. 

Anatolii Zakharovych offered me to rewrite the application for study in the part-time department, and that is how I became a student. Anatolii Zvizhynskyi became a student of the Academy of Arts. His specialization was an art expert-manager. We always moved in sync with him. Over the past thirty years, we have done several dozens of important art projects jointly.

During the first year, I was still thinking of transferring to full-time study since I studied very well. By and large, I did not want to leave Ivano-Frankivsk. It was easy and exciting for me to study. Even then, I wrote course projects with the eye of an art critic. I wrote my first texts about contemporary art and little-known at that time artists. I defended the thesis paper on the topic “Visual image in advertising.” Among all thesis topics, it was the only one where something could be done about art. 

In 1998, just after graduating from the university, I received a grant to publish the magazine “Kinets Kintsem” from the CSM Soros (Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art), which was called the International Renaissance Foundation back then. 

The cover of “Kinets Kintsem” magazine #1


Before that, in 1995, I had already received a grant for an exhibition from the Soros Foundation for Contemporary Art. This exhibition took place in the Art Museum, and it was a different experience. This experience was also connected with the river, with my hard rebirth as a person and artist. The exhibition was called “Meditations at the Crossroads,” and those were objects, installations, and videos. I consciously combined some formal, ethical, aesthetic, and erotic opposites to create a certain integral atmosphere. Then the art critic Viktor Melnyk helped me a lot with my work. But it was perceived ambiguously by different circles (by colleagues and officials). At the end of November at night, just when the exhibition ended, I was coming back from a binge, and for some reason, I wanted to clean up, to get rid of all unnecessary things. That was it! It was about 10 degrees below zero outside. It was windy and snowing. And I hurried into the Bystrytsya river near the bridge near Naberezhna Street. I entered the water chest-deep. The ice was only near the banks, and I threw all the things I had with me into the river. I threw the bag with the only video for that exhibition, some books, brochures, and other rubbish. It was a state of fracture, despair, and enlightenment at the same time. I really wanted to get rid of the previous one. Luckily, it was shallow there, and I managed to get to the other bank. Then I went to the bridge and returned to the city. There were a police patrol car and several policemen with Kalashnikov rifles under the bridge late at night. I remember approaching and asking them in an annoying voice, “Why are you standing here?” However, in the original, it said, “What the fu** are you standing here?” Go home! Play with your children and love women. What the fu** are you freezing here for?” All the wet, cocky and freezing young man spoke rudely to them. I still remember the expressions on their faces. Luckily, they did not detain me, only asked who I was and whether I was far from home. I told them that I was teaching their children to draw, and there is my workshop in 200 m from there. Actually, I went there and warmed up and did not even get sick after such swimming. Currently, I understand that this event was probably more important than the exhibition itself. I changed drastically after that. 

The almanac “Kinets Kintsem” had to create a specific discourse in the environment. I understood that we did a lot as artists; however, everything we did remain in an emptiness. Neither in booklets nor the press, there were a fixation of events, ideas, and thoughts.  

Behind the Venice Film Festival, The Lido island, 2017


I wanted to create a platform that would be relevant and very interesting and where you could write about art and discuss some taboo things. The name “Kinets Kintsem” arose because it was the end of the century and millennium, and by that time, there were about 300 books and texts that began with the word “The end.” There were the following texts: “The End of Ideology”, “The End of History”, and the book, “The End of Marital Life,” and many others about the end of art. Instead, I wanted to organize it into a new final gesture. That was an ironic name. I remember writing the idea and concept of this magazine just in the middle of the night. Suddenly, I woke up and wrote a page of text, as someone from above was dictating. In fact, I wanted to receive a grant from CSM Soros for this text. My friends and co-editors Viktor Melnyk and Anatolii Zvizhynskyi helped me a lot to work on the magazine. Unfortunately, Viktor Melnyk died suddenly in 2005. He was the main moderator of the artistic process in the city for a long time. His biggest passion was sacred art, but he did a lot for all painters of the city. He wrote texts for catalogues and booklets; he always criticized clearly and with arguments and left not only the book and important texts but also a cherished memory of himself. 

The first issue of “Kinets Kintsem” was published in 1999. I received an award “Surprise of the Year” at the Publisher’s Forum at once. So we did well. 

Wedding celebration, workshop in Kniahynyn, 1999


We did it in cooperation with the publishing house “Lileya-NV”. “Kinets Kintsem” is a magazine of visions and paradoxical advertising pieces. We tried to create an independent platform without censorship. We published texts about art development, theoretical and quirky things. We put everything we could possibly put there. It was a mix of literature and art history — texts by Viktor Melnyk, Anatolii Zvizhynskyi, Izdryk, Yurko Andrukhovych, Taras Prokhasko, Oleh Sydor-Hibelinda, Nebojsa Vilic from Macedonia, and many other authors. The interviews with Viktor Miziano, Leon Tarasyvech, and Panas Zalyvakha, and others were published.

We tried to work informally and create a platform where the so-called “Stanislav phenomenon” could perform some extravagant art texts and go beyond our city’s peripheral boundaries to a broader context. When you are travelling, you see a person, an interesting artist, start communicating with him and make material: a text or an interview. And it works. The format of the almanac allowed to escape from a clear periodicity. 

In 2005, I already issued the almanac for the fourth time. It was a Ukrainian-Polish issue, which was created thanks to the scholarship Gaude Polonia granted by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland. I applied for a scholarship because at that time, just before the Orange Revolution, the situation in Ukraine was very depressive. In general, the artistic situation in Ivano-Frankivsk looked hopeless and bleak. The scholarship was like a breath of fresh air. And the most important thing was that I met wonderful people. Some of the writers said very well about Bogumiła Berdychowska, who was responsible for the scholarship. Namely, Bogumiła Berdychowska has done more for Ukrainian culture that the entire Ministry of Culture. And it is true. As the head of the program and simply as a person, I know that she helped and supported many Ukrainian artists. Art historian Ania Rakovska was my curator; she was also a curator of Lviv artist Tonia Denysiuk. Ania organized unforgettable six months in Warsaw for us. She was wise and punctual, a native of Warsaw.  Daily, she introduced us to the city and its artistic elite — from underground to diplomats.

Additionally, she helped me to master the Polish language well. She watched my pronunciation, corrected me, and revealed the nuances. And all of this was easy, with irony and humour. 

“Art”, mixed technique, 2013


I worked directly with Grzegorz Borkowski on the magazine. He was the editor-in-chief of Warsaw magazine “Obieg” published by the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art. Grzegorz provided several important texts for translation and publication in Ukraine. He introduced me to the stars of Polish art. 

In that Polish-Ukrainian issue, we updated information about some Polish artists. Later, some of them had exhibitions or other projects in Ukraine. These are Paweł Althamer, Grzegorz Klyaman, Joanna Raikowska, Zbigniew Libera, Wojciech Gilewicz, Anna Baumgart, and others. To some extent, this magazine helped me personally and perhaps the Frankivsk local situation not to be so marginal.

At the Publisher’s Forum in Lviv, when we presented this issue, a noble lady approached me and said that she was a big fan of “Kinets Kintsem.” It turned out that she was the Slavic Literature Department of the British Library curator in London. She informed us that all issues of our magazine were in their archive. Later, I found out that when we were working on “Kinets Kintsem”, an art magazine with a similar final title was also issued in London. 

A few years after the scholarship, I was still doing several projects with the Polish Institute’s support in Kyiv. Yurii Onukh, who was the curator and artist, helped me to realize them. Sometimes he grumbled because I was not on time, but he always helped to realize those ideas. 

It is worth remembering my staying and a short period — about four months in Rome from personal experience. I got married. It was the period when I was working on the second issue of the magazine.

With wife Irina, 2016


The end of the ‚90s was a tough economic time. I worked as a journalist in the Tysmenytsia district newspaper with the avan-garde title “Forward” I wrote not about agricultural achievements but mainly texts about artists, art, and culture. Volodia Zanyk, the editor-in-chief, bravely endured my efforts. We had a good team. It was like a family. 

I remember that the monthly salary was enough for food and one pack of diapers. My son was born, and I went to Rome, Italy — I decided to conquer the world. Everything did not turn out as well as I wanted. I went there together with Bohdan Kuziv. We were friends in childhood and went to art school together. And there was already a mutual “in the shop” colleague Yevhen Korol there. 

Rostislav Koterlin and Bohdan Kuziv, Rome. Entrance to the Vatican, 2001


Most of our artists live under the illusion that someone is waiting for us somewhere, and the success story is written in advance. It was a unique experience for me to feel Rome and see that no one is waiting for us anywhere, although there are dramatic and cool moments. I worked in a commercial gallery in the centre. I drew pictures to order, but it was a little money. I had to lose weight and meditate. I was a participant in a filigree performance performed by a Roma girl of thirteen at the Porta Portese market. I went there to buy some presents for my family. On the way, I got surrounded by a group of noisy women asking me for money. Solo una mile lire, only a thousand lire, about one dollar at the rate as of that time. They did it tough, grabbed my hands and shoulders. I had larger bills, so I had to refuse and put my wallet in the closer, of course, front pocket from my tight-fitting jeans’ back pocket. I managed to fight off the women, walked about ten meters, checked a few times whether I had not lost the wallet, and suddenly there was a girl in front of me, a head lower than me, holding in front of my face a very similar wallet.  She asked resolutely if it was mine, and I just blinked and checked my pockets. I considered myself very attentive and cool. And here is such trouble. The girl looked into my eyes extremely penetratingly, like burning me with fire. I still can see this look in front of me. Then she gave me back my wallet, and in return, she asked me for the same thousand lire. Nothing was missing from the wallet; there were about two hundred dollars in lira and a six-month ticket for the subway and city buses. I gave her the smallest fifty-thousand bill, and she was stunned for a while. She grabbed the money, smiled, and ran to her nomadic relatives. This story caused great surprise both to my Ukrainian acquaintances-workers and to Italian gallery owners. Because hundreds and hundreds of people were robbed at that market, but there was no such thing as returning of what was stolen. In fact, that shrewd girl helped me stay in Rome for the next month and a half since a week after that incident, I lost my job, and that not stolen money helped me stay afloat. 

At the same time, I understood that I had to go back to Ukraine somehow and do certain things here. 

Before returning home, there was another story covering not only me but all Ukrainian artists, and explaining what situation we are in and what situation they are in. We went to a beach near Rome to the Tyrrhenian Sea, and an unpleasant incident happened — I had a sunstroke and lost consciousness. An ambulance took me and resurrected me quickly. Then they asked Genyk Korol who I was. He replied that I was an “artisto” which means an artist. From Ukraine. The doctor slowly looked at me, kept quiet, and philosophically proclaimed: altri artisti, literally — other artists. 

Project “Personal structures,” Palazzo Mora, Venice, 2017


I still understand well that this “other artist” applies to all Ukrainian artists. And today, we are also perceived as other artists in Europe. We are not included in the global context; we are still living in our local Ukrainian microworld. Now, finally, some are already breaking into Venice or other important exhibitions. However, in general, there is no such phenomenon as Ukrainian art in the world context. Until Ukrainian capital, public or private, begins to invest in Ukrainian art, nothing will happen. I think it would be nice to make a big Ukrainian art exhibition called “Other Artists” in some important western museum. 

It is also important to mention the family and wife’s support since, often, an artist’s work is a very ungrateful thing, and artists frequently have to overcome financial difficulties. If it were not for the family’s support, it would be very difficult, and something would break. 

For a long time, my wife Iryna had endured my trips, my absence, and lack of money. In fact, there is no art market in Ukraine. However, there is still a small bunch of people supporting art. Such people should be valued because they also take risks when investing in some imaginary potential. It is very good when an artist can find the support of at least one such person. But there critically small number of such people. However, there are many artists. It is challenging for an artist to live at the expense of his creativity. Only a few can manage it. 


With Pavlo Hudimov, “Ya-Gallery”, Kyiv, 2015


For a long time, I could not find myself in art. I could not capture my own style and shape my art clearly. There were periods when I did nothing for years but sat in front of a clean canvas, as in front of a wall, trying to penetrate deep into this mystery. It was necessary to die several times, to throw off all previous luggage and knowledge to be able to move. Such a confident movement began only after forty years. 

Even now, every time I start working on a new project, I do it like for the first time. Of course, experience, but this uncertainty lies intriguing and exposing. 

In 2009, Oleksa Furdiak and I made a joint exhibition at the Dzyga Art Center. We called it “Untitled.” I exhibited paintings while Oleksa exhibited sculptures. We were free and calm. The installation of the exhibition had begun an hour before the opening. Marek smiled slyly; Vlodko was a bit nervous; we installed everything in half an hour, and the exhibition turned out to be really titular. In general, the activities of Marek Ivashchyshyn, Vlodko Kaufman, and the entire Dzyga team are the separate history not only of Lviv but Ukraine as a whole. They have done so much that much more than just a phenomenon. 

With daughter Marichka and Pooh, 2015


For me, this untitled exhibition is also important because it became an occasion for a closer acquaintance and friendship with Pavlo Hudimov. Since 2009 I have been cooperating with “Ya-Gallery.” I have made eight personal exhibitions there as of today. I do a project almost every year. This is a significant and valuable experience. 

Having taken a good start, many galleries came down from a distance, as did many artists. And we must pay tribute to Pavlo Gudimov, who has been able to move confidently for a long time, maintain the gallery, and do quality projects.

In our situation, everyone needs to remember that art is a long-distance race. Definitely, one human life is not enough; we must count on more.

Finally, that is all. I have already said a lot. Enough. 

Rostislav Koterlin

Photos from the archive of Rostislav Koterlin. 

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