Maria Avksentievna Prymachenko is a famous Ukrainian artist of the twentieth century, a bright representative of primitivism. During her long life, Maria Primachenko painted more than 800 paintings, most of which are kept in the National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Decorative Arts. In her biography, tragic events are closely intertwined with high-profile successes, and the artist’s work is a reflection of boundless love for her native land.
Maria Primachenko drew inspiration from folklore and filled her works with symbolic content. She achieved international recognition early, but refused to move to Kiev and lived all her life in her native village.
Maria Avksentievna Primachenko was born on December 30, 1908 in the village of Bolotnya in the north of the modern Kiev region of Ukraine into a family of simple peasants. At the age of seven, the girl was struck by a serious illness – poliomyelitis, which brought her immense physical suffering throughout her subsequent life.
Due to illness, Maria from an early age was constantly at home alone, and all her relatives went to work in the field. In her free time, she loved to draw flowers with a twig in the sand and soon became seriously carried away by this occupation. At the age of 17, Maria Primachenko accidentally discovered an unusual blue clay and painted the walls of her house with it. Bright pictures were liked not only by relatives, but also by neighbors, who became the first customers of the young artist.
Rumors about a talented rural girl quickly spread throughout the district and reached Kiev, from where journalists and art critics began to come to her. In 1936, the young artist was invited to the capital of Soviet Ukraine and offered a place in the experimental workshops at the Kiev Museum. A year later, her works were presented at an international exhibition in Paris, where they received rave reviews from critics and the public.
A simple rural woman did not like life in the capital at all, and in 1940 she returned to her native village. Shortly before that, Maria met her love in Kiev – a young fellow countryman Vasily Marinchuk, but the lovers were in no hurry to formalize the relationship. In March 1941, the artist’s son Fyodor was born, and a few months later the common-law husband went to the front, from where he never returned.
The tragic events of the terrible war and post-war devastation for a long time discouraged Maria Primachenko from drawing. Only in the early 1950s did she return to her favorite pastime. In addition to painting, the talented woman was fond of embroidery and painting ceramics, and also illustrated books by Ukrainian writers and poets.
Maria’s only son became her student and subsequently received the title of People’s Artist of Ukraine, and two grandchildren continued the Primachenko dynasty, although, unlike their grandmother, they did not achieve wide international recognition.
The unique Ukrainian artist enjoyed the special favor of the authorities. For her services to the people, she was awarded numerous honorary titles, orders and medals. Famous cultural figures constantly came to visit Maria Primachenko, her works were constantly exhibited at international exhibitions.
Despite her resounding fame, Maria Primachenko remained a modest woman until the end of her days and never left her native village. The regional authorities helped the sick artist build a new hut, where she lived until her death with her son and grandchildren.
Maria Primachenko died on August 18, 1997 at the age of 89 in her native Bolotnya, where the grave of this unique woman is today. In commemoration of the artist’s merits, 2009 was declared the year of Maria Primachenko in Ukraine, and dozens of streets in different cities and even the small planet 14624 were named after her.
The most famous paintings by Maria Primachenko
Among the huge number of bright and original works of the craftswoman, it is difficult to single out a few of the best. And yet, among the most famous paintings by Maria Primachenko are:
“The Rat on the Road” (1961) is a work associated with a major international scandal. In 2013, the Finnish clothing manufacturer Marimekko placed its advertisement on FinnAir aircraft, based on a painting by a Ukrainian artist. After a well-founded accusation of plagiarism, the Finns were forced to apologize and remove the images from the airbuses.
Sunflowers and Peas (1962) is a cheerful still life in the folk spirit. The simple composition reflects the beauty of rural life and the generosity of the native land.
Flowers for Peace (1965) is a painting dedicated to anti-war themes. On it, the artist urges people to abandon war and engage in peaceful affairs, surrounded by beautiful flowers.
“The Eared Beast Grabs the Cancer” (1983) is one of the most recognizable works by Primachenko on the theme of folk tales. Children especially like this funny picture and cause them a lot of positive emotions.
Maria Primachenko is a colorful artist with a unique perception of the world around her. Her bright works today attract a huge number of adults and children who are in love with folk art and fairy tale folklore.