About Marta Pitchuk
Marta Pitchuk is a talented artist from Ukraine that is still living and working there. Pitchuk’s work is primarily focused on traditional media like oil painting and graphite drawings. We at Hue&Eye recently got to interview her!
Let’s start from the basics. What’s your name and where have you grown up?.
My name is Marta Pitchuk and I was born and grew up in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.
When or how have you understood you wanted to become an artist?
I once tried to remember exactly when I started painting, but I realized that I don’t know myself without a brush in my hands. My mother has an art and graphics degree, and since childhood, I have had the opportunity to observe the creation of her paintings. One of my most vivid childhood memories is when my mother worked on a replica of a small portrait of Lydia Delectorska, created by renowned French artist Henri Matisse. The whole process of creation seemed like magic to me. That’s when I realized that I wanted to dedicate myself to art. I still have, indeed, that portrait in my workshop.
I knew then that I wanted to study art and become an artist.
Choosing which university to attend and which program to pursue was a daunting task for me. I was most impressed by the Monumental Painting major offered at several institutions, browsing various art programs at universities across Ukraine. The paintings on the walls at these schools did not particularly interest me then. But the program appealed to me because it allowed me to become acquainted with many artistic techniques: stained glass, mosaic, fresco, sgraffito, encaustics, etc. Another reason I chose this major is that entrance exams for this program were challenging; it gave me confidence that this program had high standards for future artists.
For me, being an artist is a natural calling. My workday does not end when I close the workshop. Even at home, I think about what I was creating that day; I look for new ideas and live in the captivity of my creative thought. Even if my paintings were not interesting to anyone, I would still keep making them because painting is part of who I am.
And how would you like people to engage with your art?
When I made the first Motanka, I felt that this specific image reflects who I am as an artist at this stage of my life. In my paintings, an inanimate doll passes through time, travels from previous centuries to the present, and turns into a woman of flesh and blood. The living Motanka is no longer an object but a person with her character, thoughts, and views. She is the embodiment of the past that came to life.
I explore the ethnic regions of Ukraine, trying to find something special and unique in them. Each of my works is devoted to a specific area, so it is an anthropological study. The value and mission of my paintings are that they communicate the energy and power of a Ukrainian woman who inspires and encourages the viewer to admire their roots.
Can you briefly describe your creative technique and tell us what drives you to make art?
My painting ideas come in many different ways, often in my sleep. It’s almost like a mirage, just one specific motion or image. It is never a detailed image of a painting but one crucial detail or element, like the movement of fur in the wind. When this vision comes to me, I immediately put it on the canvas. This singular vision later becomes the basis for the entire painting.
The ideas for paintings come to me from somewhere. My task in life is to listen to these ideas, understand them, and depict them on canvas. I don’t come up with them; they want to be born through me. I’m just a mechanism through which they can happen.
The state of my soul in creating my artworks varies. I paint some of my artworks very quickly, with a lot of dynamism. Others need to take their time. I often leave the paintings that need to wait to face the wall for up to a year. Only when her time comes can I turn her around and finish the artwork in a few hours. Every painting is different, each with its unique mood and approach.
Working on an image of a Motanka, I completely detail her facial features, and only then do I cover it with painted threads so that Motanka may have a soul. It becomes not only a beautiful image but also a deep reflection of her own thoughts, emotions, and experiences. If you look closely, you can see a woman’s gaze in the middle of the picture under a layer of paint.
Which artist primarily inspires your work? And is there something else, outside visual arts, that keeps you motivated?
It is my everyday life that inspires my work the most. I often draw inspiration from adventures through the Ukrainian countryside, where I seek out antique headdresses, embroidered shirts, and traditional interior decor. Analyzing the traditional ethnic motifs specific to the various artifacts I discover and getting the style of work from which I draw inspiration is what I aim at. Also to form the central tenets of my technique from the tempera style, where you begin with a dark background. I borrow the method for illuminating the image from a tempera religious painting. I like the idea of painting light onto a dark background rather than the traditional way of painting shadows on a light backdrop.
The continued journey to discover more about my past and the history of Ukraine keeps me motivated. My “Motanka” series began after I found a traditional Hutsul headdress called a чільце (chiltse) in my old family house. In my free time, I research conventional Ukrainian clothing, caps, and other ancient relics to breathe new life into the symbolism of the past.
As a digital artist, do you feel you’ve been waiting for something like NFTs for a long time?
My art is traditional painting, and I think I will continue to paint in this medium and base my shows around this physical art style for a while. My husband and I also create a lot of street art murals across Ukraine. I like the juxtaposition between the bleak Soviet high-rise buildings and the highly adorned, folksy Motanka heroines. Being able to explore new mediums and ways to express myself and share my art is at the core of my work.
A foundation of my work is not to be afraid of mistakes. I’m not scared to lay down strokes that I will later need to cover up and spend hours of my time getting it right. All of my art brings this personal freedom. As an artist, I feel I have to be in a state of perpetual soul search.
I saw the transition into NFTs as a natural next step to bringing traditions and past artifacts into modern-day life and reinvigorating the symbolism of the past. I genuinely believe that it’s the essential task of each Ukrainian painter to show our rich and remarkable culture to the world.
In times of war mainly, NFTs have provided an important way for me to continue to share my art and historical facets of Ukraine. I hope to contribute to this by sharing my NFTs, bringing awareness to my culture, and supporting the relief efforts by donating proceeds from sales of my NFTs to the excellent organizations working tirelessly to provide aid every day in Ukraine.
And how do you see the NFT world will benefit your professional career?
I offered my art as NFT to help support my country in dire need. It is very tough to transport goods across our borders right now, but NFTs, and crypto in general, provide a borderless, decentralized environment for exchanging goods and money. NFTs allowed me to use my art to raise funds for organizations doing great work on the front lines every day, risking their lives to help Ukraine. NFTs have also provided me with a medium through which I can share the history of Ukraine through my paintings with a broader audience and raise awareness of the brutal treatment the Russians are inflicting upon Ukraine.
Spread the word! Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?
At the beginning of June 2022, I launched a project with Devvio, a blockchain company. The project is on their GlassBlock marketplace. Through NFTs for Ukraine (NFTsForUkraine.io), we are selling NFTs of 7 of my paintings, one of which is called the Victory Motanka of Kyiv Polissia, which I created while the war waged outside my studio. I would often be painting and would have to stop my work because I could hear bombing outside.
The work I have for sale is available to anyone who wants to support Ukraine while securing a unique Ukrainian history and culture moment.
I have included high-resolution images of these 7 NFTs. However, I would be happy to send over 2 of them as NFTs, valued and $25 and $2,000, respectively.
The art is part of my “Motanka” Series, depicting the traditional Ukrainian Motanka talisman, with roots in ancestral memory and symbolizing protection from evil, hope for a better future, and fertility.