A glorifier of the Ukrainian landscape
by Tetiana Marchenko-Poshyvailo
from the book "Nestor Kyzenko. Painting
Kyiv, 2006

                Freezing Evening
         (click the image to enlarge it)

Nestor Kyzenko was born in 1926 in a tiny village of Bizh in northern Ukraine, some 300 km
from  Kyiv. His artistic talent began to reveal itself at a very early age. He painted with a
finger on the ground, with charcoal on walls and fences. Later he made brushes for himself,
got some paints, and painted on whatever surface was available - pieces of cardboard, sackcloth, etc...
His formal education consisted of four years of village school and was interrupted by the cruel time he lived in. The terrible Holodomor of 1932-33 killed millions of his contemporaries but he survived.

(Kyzenko personally experienced Holodomor caused by the soviet authorities. He painted
a small painting about Holodomor in the late
1980's. Later he painted a larger painting
"Life Became Better, Life Became More Cheerful" based on the memories
of his childhood.
To see the painting please check GENOCIDE Gallery:

The Nazis who occupied his native land during the WWII sent him, a boy of sixteen, to forced labor in Germany.
After the war he served for twelve years in the soviet army in the Caucasus Mountains where his unit was stationed.
While serving in the army in the Caucasus Mountains he was given the opportunity to attend the workshop of a renown painter from Leningrad Vasily Chukhayev, who, in exhile, was teaching at the Art Academy in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Only in 1956 Nestor Kyzenko returned to his native Ukraine and took a job in a village community center teaching children to paint.

What mysterious forces made a common, self-educated peasant, take brushes and create paintings of great beauty?...

Seeing Nestor Kyzenko's artworks for the first time leaves one awestruck. He had no formal art education, he was immune to social pressures and blissfully ignorant of what is commercially in demand. He just painted. His style combines traditional approaches to landscape painting and principal features of folk painting. It comes from his soul, his gift given by God, his love for nature and for his native land. He is considered one of the foremost landscape artists in Ukraine. Such masters as Maria Prymachenko, Kateryna Bilokur, Nadia Bilokin, Tetiana Pata are of that ilk. Many of such talents disappear without trace or recognition. Talent along is not always enough for the artist to be recognized. 

               Old Oak-tree
     (click the image to enlarge it)
              Warm Summer Day
      (click the emage to enlarge it)
                   A Hunter
      (click the image to enlarge it)

Fortunately, Kyzenko's paintings came to the attention of an art collector Volodymyr Belanger. The collector provided the peasant artist who was already of an advanced age, with encouragement and painting materials, and Kyzenko was finally able to fully express in his art what had accumulated in his heart through many years of his life. And he did it with all the pent-up creative energy suddenly released. He painted a lot of portraits of the villagers revealing their dignity and spiritual beauty. Also, he painted scenes from everyday life. Once, he was even invited to decorate a church with paintings of saints.

But best of all he enjoyed painting landscapes: stormy sky, morning fog, sunset, autumn leaves, moonlit winter nights. In many of his paintings one can see white peasant houses, windmills, churches, Cossacks, monks, Chumak traders, etc. Kyzenko's paintings are of a philosophic and epic nature; they reveal the artist's nostalgia for the lost harmony of people and nature, the harmony that shaped Ukrainian spirit. There is something of folk songs in Kyzenko's artworks. He is an excellent colorist. He uses different techniques of painting, from broad brushwork to smooth strokes. His compositions are carefully built. The wide areas of land and the mysterious depth of the sky in Kyzenko's paintings reflect the artist's romantic and poetic nature.

Kyzenko is a prolific painter. In spite of his age he turns on one painting after another. His creative energy does not seem to ebb. He is not tempted by the offers to move to the capital and continues to live in his village in Sumy region. His modest house is his studio; and though it is ill-equipped for painting, it does not prevent him from creating good artworks. The artist distancing himself from the harsh realities of the world around him, imbues his paintings with a nostalgic spirit, capturing something that cannot be expressed in words.

The discovery of Nestor Kyzenko's artworks became a major event in the artistic life of Ukraine. His artworks are written and spoken about. Kyzenko became a member of the Ukrainian Union of Artists. His paintings are in demand among art collectors. His artworks are exhibited in museums and art galleries in Ukraine and abroad. The sudden fame has not changed the artist - he remains as modest as he has always been. "I am not a great artist", he says with a charming smile. The next generations will decide whether Nestor Kyzenko belongs to the cohort of the Ukrainian landscape "classics". Time will be the judge.


P.S. Nestor Kyzenko died in 2008
The book about Nestor Kyzenko is available. Please check FOR SALE Gallery:


June 8, 2010

Home   |   About Us   |   FAQ   |   Feedback 
© Copyright ArtUkraine 1999-2013