“Every person is a small channel through which light from above, from God, travels,” says Petro Bevza. “An artist is someone whose mission is to show this light visually.”
One of Ukraine’s foremost contemporary artists, he was one of the first to graduate from art school in the post-Soviet era and deep emotion is expressed almost spiritually in his paintings and his words. Bevza, who opened The Play Goes On in the capital last week, his debut Middle East show, is also leading a week-long workshop on metaphysical landscape painting that ends tomorrow.
“One of the most important rules in life is that when you want to do something 100 per cent you must work 200 per cent,” he says.
“With me, I take all my energy from my body, my heart and my soul and put it on to the canvas. I will try to teach the students what I know.”
Explaining the use of mineral pigments on his canvases, Bevza says that one of the most important things he will focus on with teaching is how to layer a painting in colours.
“I want people to see it almost like a human being. At first we build the skeleton, then the flesh and the bones and finally the brain.”
Inside the exhibition
The paintings that are hanging in Abu Dhabi’s N2N Gallery are either completely abstract or use natural subjects as their base. A few artworks feature horses, which Bevza says came from both his childhood memories as well as a more recent experience when he was learning to ride. A tiger strides through the frame of Pryntessa, an animal Bevza says has “visited” him in a dream.
In Vody, the painting bears mostly the colours and appearance of a frothing sea with a long, pod-like object floating in the centre.
Bevza says that it is an image of a woman who is transporting drinking water in bottles, floating in the sea. But he offers a much more philosophical explanation: “I was trying to show that we are all very small and individually insignificant but all of us are linked, like peas in pod. Here we are being transported through the sea of life, and it is vital to remember that two [of the] most important things in life are water and women.”
Other than his reflections on existence, Bevza has also produced a series of four paintings called Podor, meaning pilgrim.
These are a direct response to the unrest in his country, and are an attempt to offer a solution through art. The paintings were exhibited last year in the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York and were also billed as an attempt “to find connections between personal interpretation of ideas and philosophical systems”.
“I don’t know how my work will be perceived in the UAE but I don’t think about these things.
“I just do what I have to do and I trust that people will respond to it.”
• The Play Goes On by Petro Bevza runs until May 20 at N2N Gallery, Abu Dhabi. For more information, visit www.n2n-gallery.com