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Until recently, such an art form as vytynanka, was considered endangered. However, the artist from Lviv Daria Aleshkina found a new way to draw attention to the forgotten Ukrainian folk craft. She creates large-sized curtains for modern interiors of residential and public institutions. Taking paper and a sharp knife in her hands, she not only revived an ancient art form, but also earned world recognition. Our publication contains an amazing selection of her large-scale openwork panels made of paper, which have already conquered Poland, France and even South Korea.
A bit of historyThe name vytynanka comes from the word "vytynat", which means "cut out". This kind of folk art, which developed on the territory of Ukraine in the middle of the 19th century, became a kind of Ukrainian applied decorative art. It was from that era that vytynanka in Ukrainian rural huts began to play the role of amulet decoration. Openwork paper canvases were often used to curtain windows to block the way for evil spirits and evil spirits. And also the vytynanka began to serve as a budgetary and simple decoration for dwellings for various holidays.
A feature of this technique was symmetry. And in order to achieve it, when making a vytynanka, the paper was folded in several folds: from two to eight, and with the help of scissors, various figures were cut out, which were components of complex ornaments. And when unfolding the product, a beautiful ornament, a plot composition or an ordinary snowflake was obtained.
About the artistDaria Aleshkina was born in 1982 in Kiev in a family of sculptors. In the 1980s, the family moved to the countryside of the Vinnytsia region, where the future craftswoman spent her childhood. There, Daria's parents created sculptures, pottery, painted pictures and raised five children. - recalls her first steps in the work of the artist.
Daria also admitted that when she grew up, she absolutely did not plan to become an artist. From childhood, she saw what creative work is worth, and how much is actually paid for it. Nevertheless, she still had to graduate from the Vizhnitsa College of Applied Arts. And later, at the insistence of his parents, the Lviv National Academy of Arts, specializing in “monumental and decorative sculpture”.
During her student years, a fragile girl, as they say, took huge blocks of stone with an attack, giving them an artistic form. And she did it well enough. Student Aleshkina often had to represent Ukraine at art symposia, forums and exhibitions.
While studying at the academy, Daria met Gordey the Old Woman, also an artist. After graduation, they got married, and the couple had three children - Rosava, Vakula, Aeneas. Their family has been living by creativity for many years now - Gordey creates lyres, kobza, bandura, plays the guitar in an ethno-group, and for Daria, after the birth of children, the "vytynanka" became an outlet.
Curiously, Daria remembered this folk craft on her first maternity leave as a child's hobby. - she says.
A lot of time has passed since then, and between raising children and household chores, she managed to create perfectly verified canvases, some of which reached five meters in height. Daria gave her creations to loved ones, presented them to various institutions, thanks to Instagram, she got regular customers. For a decade of her creative biography, the artist has created hundreds of square meters of openwork canvas, and the ornaments she creates have never been repeated. To date, there are more than 500 works in her creative piggy bank, and the craftswoman is not going to stop there.
According to the craftswoman, in order to create real works of art from paper, you need only three things - paper, knife and imagination. She also admits that the traditionally Ukrainian vytynanka has never been large. The artist began to use the large size in her work not only in order to draw attention to the "vytynanka" and at the same time to revive this art, but in order to modernize and bring it closer to the perception of a modern person. Daria also revealed another secret: the less work, the more effort it requires from the master. But big work looks more effective and easier to manufacture.
She also, working even on 2-3-5 meter protrusions, folds the paper in half, observing age-old folk traditions. And opening them after the end of the carving, according to the artist herself, real magic happens: a completely unexpected symmetrical openwork image appears. It is this moment that greatly inspires Daria Aleshkina to new and new works.
It takes Daria up to 10 days to make one piece. She, making a preliminary drawing, thoroughly thinks over the entire composition as a whole, but each time, opening the canvas, the craftswoman does not fully assume what exactly will turn out in the end.
The central images of her works are, as a rule, women, and sometimes angels, surrounded by floral ornaments of various configurations.
Curiously, many of the artist's works have titles.
Also, thanks to the Internet, the whole world learned about Daria Aleshkina's works. In 2018, she was invited to Paris, where she presented her canvases at an exhibition of high handicrafts. There, the vytynanki were noticed by the Michelangelo Foundation and invited the artist to participate in the Biennale of Craft Art in Venice. By the way, in Paris they were very surprised that there is such a kind of art in Ukraine. They were also surprised that plain paper was used for it.
She also presented her creations in South Korea. By the way, if in Paris they admired the vytynankas, the Koreans bought up half of the collection. In Ukraine, it is quite difficult for her to sell her works because our people are not used to paper work, they consider it a fragile material.
In the future, the artist plans to turn to more durable synthetic materials that can be used with a laser instead of a knife. And which can be used for practical purposes. For example, to make highly artistic roller blinds for windows or sun-protection openwork curtains. According to Aleshkina, such products "can be made voluminous and multi-layered, for windows and ceilings, as well as used in space."
The artist is sure that today the vytynanka has a new wave of popularity. And Daria regrets about one thing, that, unfortunately, there is still no university in Ukraine where there is a department dedicated to making a vytynanka. In Belarus, for example, there is a college where they teach this craft. And she sincerely hopes that she will soon appear in Ukraine as well.
Continuing the topic of the art of paper cutting, read our publication about how the world's artists create the finest paper masterpieces.
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