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Between the Renaissance and the gloomy Gothic: Pictures of the Ukrainian artist, who was born 500 years after his time

Considering the work of contemporary artists, it seems that they all work in two directions: some get their inspiration and look for answers to their creative questions in the classical heritage of their predecessors, others – innovators engaged in modern art work in a completely new format. But there are also universals, to which we can include the Ukrainian master of graphics, sculpture and levkas – Oleg Denisenko, who draws his inspiration from deep antiquity and throws it out in the form of new out-of-the-ordinary ideas and unpredictable decisions.

Oleg Denisenko, a Lviv citizen, is a world-renowned graphic artist and sculptor who has won more than 30 international awards received at art forums in many countries of Europe, Asia and the USA. There, in private collections and famous galleries, most of his work has settled.

A lot of controversy is being said about his work: some consider that this is the most amazing art, of those that they have just seen, others are gloomy Gothic and some kind of “devilry”, the third is seen as the Renaissance … In one word, how many people – how many and subjective opinions. But the most important thing is that there are no indifferent ones.

It all began from childhood, when Oleg was read out by the historical encyclopedia, and as a teenager he had awakened an incredible craving for antiques and books with reproductions of engravings. In his youth, he began to dream about the profession of an archeologist, and the antiquity and cultural heritage of his native city painfully attracted the guy. Living in Lviv, the subtle nature of the future artist as a sponge absorbed the atmosphere that pervaded the ancient city. He then played an important role in choosing a profession: Oleg became an artist, having graduated from the Ukrainian Academy of Printing with a degree in Graphics.

In addition to graphics and sculpture, Denisenko is fond of levkas technique. Ancient artists used something similar in ancient times to create Byzantine icons and Fayum portraits. However, Oleg Denisenko with Igor Khudyakov invented, perfected and patented their levkas technique, which became the author.

The secret of the engraving technique is that the levkas – a special primer – is applied in several layers on the base, on which a deep impression is made of the previously prepared pattern on the metal. Relief and texture work has a stunning effect. In addition, it can be “aged” by inflicting small cracks, making a craquelure and a patina, imitating a base crammed with a shashchel …

This “Self-portrait” of the artist, made in the technique of levkas, became a kind of his business card. For many years he has been replacing a photograph of the artist at the opening of solo exhibitions. In the opinion of many who know the artist personally, his character and inner world are painfully conveyed to him.

Each graphic drawing of Oleg, filled with symbolism, allegories and fantastic realism, causes an extraordinary interest among the viewer, each of his work is a kind of rebus that can be solved for hours. So, for example, in the “Flight of Thirst” picture, a collective image of the Renaissance genius — Leonardo da Vinci — is captured.

As you can see, the key element of the image are symbolic wings and the third eye. Leonardo himself is an inventor, artist and humanist, all his life looking for a way to soar into the sky, as if balancing, trying to find balance and rising above worldly vanity, looks down on the world.

But the graphic work “Wandering Musician” is fraught with the most intimate that touches the master to the depths of the soul. This is an incredible love for high-level music: for classics, jazz, rock. The whole creative process in the artist’s studio is accompanied by musical accompaniment. And the hero-musician in the figure is the personification of the creative personality – wise, with a philosophical turn of mind and controlling the consciousness of the people with conductor’s rods. This work is saturated with symbolism, which ultimately speaks of the author’s striving for harmony with the Universe.

All the master’s work is enclosed in the framework of “Antiquitas nova”, that is, “New Antiquity”. His mysterious pictorial world is filled with images of wanderers, knights, alchemists and sorcerers, mythical creatures and characters from the Bible.

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