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Travel and art: Gergo Bankuti seeking inspiration in Ukraine

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20 September 2018
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Another country, new impressions, unknown culture and traditions… Creative people cannot imagine themselves without travelling, because it’s always inspiring! With the assistance of the Art & Culture Foundation Brovdi Art, the prize-winner of the Student Contest in Painting "Silver Easel", Gergo Bankuti spent two weeks in Western Ukraine: he was working and discovering the little-known country. Thus, the young artist told us about his impressions.

Gergo Bankuti
Gergo Bankuti

“For the first time I came to Ukraine in October 2017, as I was selected to the ‘Silver Easel’ contest”, Gergo recalls. “My fellow students from Budapest have never been here and their response to both the opportunity to take part in the contest and my trip was quite sceptical. Nevertheless, television forms certain stereotypes... But, I do not regret the time spent in Uzhhorod, in particular, and in Ukraine generally.

Gergo Bankuti 'Lovers'. “Silver Easel” 2017
Gergo Bankuti 'Lovers'. “Silver Easel” 2017

“Why did I come back to Uzhhorod again? “Lovers” – the very name of one of my three works, performed within the framework of “Silver Easel”. I received a lot of nominations for it. I am interested in the Tarot cards in general, but it was during the trip to Ukraine that I read a book about them and under the impression, I created this work. One of the nominations was a trip to an art residency in Uzhhorod, that's why I'm here again.”

Gergo Bankuti. Working on 'The Hermit'. Art residency in Uzhhorod 2018.
Gergo Bankuti. Working on 'The Hermit'. Art residency in Uzhhorod 2018.

“In general, I decided to create a series of 22 paintings in accordance with the number of the Tarot cards’ major arcana, all in the technique of optical illusion, namely – trompe l'oeil. In the Uzhhorod art residency, I performed the third one from the series “The Hermit”. In general, I can say that I, like my character, am in search of myself and to know the surrounding world through knowledge and experience. I have pretty good luck to meet nice people and I like travelling. I often apply for an art residency, thus last year I was in Bulgaria, now in Ukraine, and in autumn I’m going to Spain for a semester.

In Uzhhorod Skansen
In Uzhhorod Skansen

“For almost two weeks in Uzhhorod, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with the city and culture in more detail. By day I was working in the residency and in my spare time I was walking down the city streets, visited the Uzhhorod castle, scansen, art museum, the exhibition of artists from Darmstadt and the exhibition of local artists. In the evenings, I was cycling along the river Uzh embankment and this special meeting place amazed me pleasantly. I also got acquainted with the Transcarpathian cuisine, quite interesting and rich. Borshch, varenyky with potatoes, buckwheat and pilaf. I ate these dishes for the first time in Ukraine and I really liked them. And, of course, kvass, kefir, airan, which I drank before in Europe.”

Gergo Bankuti working. Art residency in Uzhhorod 2018.
Gergo Bankuti working. Art residency in Uzhhorod 2018.

“I was also lucky enough to get in the 70s of the last century: I was at Zakarpattia Hotel and then we went somewhere the dining room of the FMK furniture factory. I got rather surrealistic impressions because the interior, exterior and atmosphere quite corresponded to that era. I even thought if these institutions were united then probably other similar ones that survived the Perestroika could create a rather interesting tourist destination for the residents of Central and Western Europe.

I took some sightseeing tours of the monumental art of the Soviet period in Uzhhorod. I saw beautifully executed stained-glass windows, mosaics, paintings and sgraffito. And these excursions substantially complemented my reflections on travelling in time.”

In Uzhhorod Skansen
In Uzhhorod Skansen

In Transcarpathia, there are many interesting fortifications and architectural monuments, I visited Uzhhorod and Mukachevo castles, Saint-Miklosh castle, the Schonborn residency “Karpaty”, the Horianska Rotunda and visited the ruins of Nevytskyi Castle. I got quite unpleasant impression of the new buildings in the sanatorium “Karpaty”, where the blue metal rood is dissonant with the ensemble of the magnificent Schonborn estate. It was also a pity that the Nevytskyi Castle, which offers a beautiful panorama of the Uzhanskay valley, is so neglected when modern “castles” are being built along with it.

I was lucky enough to use Ukrainian railway from Uzhhorod to Lviv. This, frankly speaking, is also a rather interesting adventure.

In Lviv
In Lviv

Lviv impressed me with its architecture, magnificence and a number of interesting institutions. In a short time, we visited several galleries and other places, I was even kindly smacked in ‘Mazokh’ cafe. I'm excited, but one day is not enough for Lviv, so I hope to return to this city for a more detailed acquaintance.

Lutsk. Near the Korsak’s Museum of Contemporary Art
Lutsk. Near the Korsak’s Museum of Contemporary Art

“I was lucky enough to get to the opening of the Korsak’s Museum of Contemporary Art in Lutsk. Good space for exhibited works. It's nice to see that something is happening today for contemporary art. The museum itself is located in a large entertainment complex and in order to get to it, it is necessary to go through the children games rooms and I thought of Disneyland in a modern art museum, where playful children are the artists themselves.

The time spent in the art residency was very rich in trips and events, which can’t be described, because I also attended birthday parties, wedding after-parties, in Kosyno bathhouse, and so on.

Gergo Bankuti 'The Hermit'. Art residency in Uzhhorod. 2018
Gergo Bankuti 'The Hermit'. Art residency in Uzhhorod. 2018

My gratitude to the Nikitchuk family who accepted me as their own, to the team and founders of the Brovdi Art Foundation for their support and art supplies.”

Text: Gergo Bankuti. Uzhhorod 20.08.-02.09.2018. 
Photo: Nataliia Pavlyk, Oleksandr Nikitchuk
© Art & Culture Foundation Brovdi Art

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