Roma stories in Ukrainian collage

Roma jazzman Willie Papp Jr., founder of the “Romance” theatre Viktor Krykunov, Roma poet Rani Romani, human rights activist and volunteer Mykola Burlutskyi and other famous Roma figures of the past and present appear in the illustrated collages of the Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Maksymov.

The project “Roma in collage” is primarily an opportunity to present Roma culture in visual art and in this way to tell more about those who over the years create Roma culture, adding to the mosaic component of Ukrainian identity. The technique of collage, in which the artist works, is one of those that can tell as fully as possible about the deep stories of someone or something, and therefore more thoroughly represent this or that cultural component.

In general, collage as a genre of visual art is a technical method in visual arts that is based on the introduction of objects of different texture and colour into the work: pieces of newspapers, posters, wallpaper, etc. In the broadest sense, collage is the inclusion of objects or themes of various styles in the works of literature, theatre, cinema, painting, and music by means of montage to enhance the aesthetic effect. Oleksandr Maksymov mostly uses paper, glue, old newspapers and other improvised means in his collages. He glues each picture with his own hands, thus giving uniqueness to the story or characters about whom he tells in a visual way.

Creating a series of collages about Roma of Ukrainian origin became a certain challenge for the artist, since he almost never worked with the topic of Roma culture, memory and identity of the people. However, as the artist says, at the same time, it is an interesting experience to be involved more in the history of Roma, and therefore learn more about the history of local identities of Ukraine.

“Speaking metaphorically, Roma has always been a certain coded word for me. Something that you see, but cannot fully read, but you encounter them more or less every day. At the same time, creating a series of collages about the Roma, I immerse myself more in Roma art, which has a very wide layer of ancient culture. Because as we know, the Roma come from India, so this is a huge field for research and not only in a visual form,”says Oleksandr Maksymov.

If we talk about the Ukrainian component of the Roma people, here you can find many common points of contact and at the same time combine what at first glance would seem completely heterogeneous. In fact, Oleksandr Maksymov’s series of collages tries to tell about the common history of Roma and Ukrainians, their influence on Ukrainian culture and art in general, as well as to show how through the cultural component it is possible to break stereotypes and build a more open society. Culture is the important tool that allows to change one’s own view regarding internal and external prejudices.

“Thanks to the support of the youth organization “Arca”, I received a scholarship for the implementation of my project “Roma in collage” and was able to create this mosaic story about Roma culture in the modern Ukrainian context, adds Oleksandr. “This opened me up to new facets and thoughts about the shared history of two peoples who have lived in the same territory since time immemorial – Ukraine.

The author creates all works by hand. According to Oleksandr, this gives an understanding of art here and now, physical sensation, and vision of a certain reflection of oneself. During the formation of a collage, the artist does not think of a specific composition and does not put any idea into the image in advance. Instead, he is more interested in the process of creation itself, which Oleksandr often calls the meditative practice of collage. What appears as a work is a fusion of the conscious and the unconscious. It is a certain reflection on a specific time, period. Usually, the author looks for meaning in his collages already when they are in a finished state. 

In the series “Roma in collage” by the artist Oleksnadar Maksymov, you can see 17 stories of such active Roma as: Willie Papp Sr., Ihor Krykunov, Mykhailo Sementsov, Rani Romani, Mikha Kozymyrenko, Leonid Sandulenko, Anatolii Ihnashchenko, Lev Cherenko, Mykola Burlutskyi, Valerii Sukhomlyniv, Oleksandr Bahlaienko, Zola Kondur, Rustam Adzhi, Fedir Andrash, Yevhen Hudz, Artur Lakatush, Mykola Burmek-Diuri. 

Author: Marianna Maksymova

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *