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Anatoliy Kryvolap’s Evolution of Color: Emotional Paintings of the Ukrainian Artist

Anatoliy Kryvolap, Untitled, 2014
Anatoliy Kryvolap, Cart, 2011. Artist's website.

Contemporary Art

Anatoliy Kryvolap’s Evolution of Color: Emotional Paintings of the Ukrainian Artist

Anatoliy Kryvolap is a contemporary Ukrainian artist whose paintings are sold at the world’s most prestigious auctions for thousands of dollars. He works on the verge of figurative painting and abstraction. That is to say, the artist’s calling card is the usage of bright, expressive colors and in radical combinations.

Kryvolap’s creative wanderings began in 1976 – the year when he graduated from the Kyiv Art Institute – and lasted for many years.

Read also: Viktor Zaretsky: The Oeuvre of the Ukrainian Gustav Klimt


The early realistic period in Kryvolap’s artworks ended quickly, however. For example, the portraits he created did not work out. Painting landscapes with still lifes in the Impressionist style was also not what he had his heart set on. However, the landscapes made it possible for the artist to find out the relationship between him and color. He later noted that it was a rather complex and lingering process.

The photo of the Ukrainian artist Anatoliy Kryvolap in front of his painting.; Anatoliy Kryvolap
Anatoliy Kryvolap, 2018. UT.Life.

Then, everything has changed radically after Kryvolap let the Fauvists into his creative life in the mid 1980s. He was attracted by bright colors and the manner of depicting objects in a bird’s-eye view. He was also obsessed with canvases that pulsed with expression. One by one, more temperamental paintings appeared from under the artist’s brush.


But that was just the beginning. The artist felt something was still wrong; something was not quite in its place. Kryvolap was worried about the details. That is to say, it seemed to him that they distracted from the magic of color, prevented it from being felt all out. Gradually, abstraction came into the artist’s life. Thus, Kryvolap’s 10-year relationship with non-figurative painting began.

The untitled painting by Anatoliy Kryvolap depicts colorful parallelepipeds on the purple background; Anatoliy Kryvolap
Anatoliy Kryvolap, Untitled, 1986. Artist’s website.

“I studied color all my life. Studied a lot, and wrote many sketches. I studied the gray day and its nuances, the sun with its transitions – from yellow to red and almost crimson. I’ve been experimenting with color for 20 years. The purpose of the experiments is the full power of color, its sound fully. Than the color is more open, the stronger emotion is. Here you are sitting in a gray room – it’s a feeling, and imagine that the room is bright blue or bright red. This has a tremendous effect on emotional state, on perception. I create paintings in the formats that are most effective in terms of color and its emotional impact. I create such a spot of color that it tightens, has the maximum effect on the viewer. A small painting can look just like a 3-meter painting because the color is a function.”

– Anatoliy Kryvolap, interview in delo.ua.

Read also: Alla Horska. Die Hard

The untitled painting by Anatoliy Kryvolap, created in 2012, depicts the purple field and bright yellow sky; Anatoliy Kryvolap
Anatoliy Kryvolap, Untitled, 2012. Artist’s website.

In the early 2000s, Kryvolap returned to landscapes, but this time with his own unique voice in the project named The Ukrainian Motive. Small, sometimes inconspicuous details added to the combination of colors that provoke emotions. They seem to attach the paintings to reality, emphasizing everything you have experienced while contemplating if the painting is real.

At the same time, Kryvolap was working on a project named Horse. This was a series of bright, one-color paintings of silhouettes of horses. In 2013, the canvas Horse, Evening was sold for 186,000 dollars at an auction at Phillips in London. As a result, this work became the artist’s calling card.


In total, from 2010 to 2018, 19 paintings by Kryvolap worth $ 800,000 were bought at auctions.

Anatoliy Kryvolap can be called an uncompromising artist. He never painted to order, believing that the artist should not give up his own ideas to please anyone. For example, even when he started painting the walls in the church in the village of Lypivka, near Kyiv, he did not want to neglect the inherent style of his artworks’ radical color combinations, although such a palette is not typical for the traditions of church frescoes.


He does not pamper himself either. Those earlier paintings, which he considered only “laboratory research” on the way to creating his recognizable style, the artist burned. There were so many paintings that he burned that the fire and smell of smoke went on for two days. Also, he has announced that he intends to burn still more of his older artworks, ultimately leaving only those that are the result of many years of art style searching; those which he considers acceptable and can be responsible for.

Read also: Zoya Lerman, a Ukrainian Non-Conformist Artist

The painting by Anatoliy Kryvolap named "Shoreline. Kaniv". It depicts a pink shoreline and deep blue river; Anatoliy Kryvolap
Anatoliy Kryvolap, Shoreline. Kaniv, 2001. Artist’s website.

Paintings credit: Anatoliy Kryvolap’s official website.


Discover more Ukrainian artists:

I am a Ukrainian journalist, who used to write about politics a lot. But I do not do that anymore. First of all, I love art (even if this art is Untitled XXV by Willem de Kooning). Second of all, it is much easier to stay cool writing about freaks in the art world, than about ones in the political world. Third of all, art teaches us to reflect on around and inside us; politics, in the opposite, mostly teaches us not to think at all. So let’s try to save some brain cells talking about cultural heritage.

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