Yevhenii Fedorenko: “A palette knife brings some chaos in a painting and makes it more lifelike.”

November 2023

Can you tell us a little about yourself? It’s interesting that you have a background in archeology.
The historical science has always been an important part of my life from childhood. I read dozens of historical books, even studied in history class in high school. As a natural result I made acquaintance with the scientists of the Ukrainian Institute of Archeology and began to participate in archeological expeditions. Kiev city where I am from is a cradle of Eastern Slavs civilization so archeological exploring was outstanding thing. I graduated university with historical specialization and was sure that I would become a scientist. But the fate decreed otherwise: I became an artist and a journalist at the same time.

What subjects do you like to paint, and why?
I like to paint cityscapes, landscapes, and still life. So, when I arrived in St John’s, I was deeply impressed both as a historian and as an artist. Ancient streets with wonderful wooden buildings painted in various colours, beautiful wild nature – all this amazed me and inspired me to work. Everything here looks new and uncommon to me. Even the air in Newfoundland is different from what I’m use to: it is much clearer, so the colors are more saturated and contrasting. All the time since I’ve been here, I feel irresistible desire to paint, and I try to use any opportunities to picture something new.

What media do you prefer to use, and why?
My preferences are quite standard to the most of artists – canvas and oil. They are the time-tested media that give an artist wide range of possibilities to realize his ideas. But there is a small difference: I use pallet knives of different sizes and shapes instead of brushes. I even have no brushes at all! Why I prefer a pallet knife? Maybe because I try to put into my paintings impressions of what I see – not only depict it. Impressions appear and disappear quickly, so I work quite quickly, and pallet knife in my hands is quicker tool than a brush. Sometimes it is very difficult to depict the small details because a pallet knife isn’t the most accurate tool. It brings some chaos in a painting and makes it more lifelike. So, I like this sort of chaos!

Can you take one or two of your paintings, like “Atlantic Heron”, and give us the story behind it?
“Atlantic Heron” is one of my first paintings in St Johns. Then I walked the streets and met a new miracle behind every intersection. And a beautiful red ship named Atlantic Heron was one of them. This powerful, huge, and bright vessel so naturally fitted in the harbour immediately caught my eye and stimulated to express my feelings on canvas. Fortunately, I was able to see it almost every day, so it wasn’t an issue to paint this painting. Quite funny history was with a landscape named “October evening”. Everybody of my friends sees it and says: “How beautiful place!,” but I remember very well my wet shoes and cold October water! It isn’t a bog or a lake on the painting. It is a road! Road under water! And I walk it! Often beautiful views come with a price!

What’s next for you?
The first thing in my plans is exploring beautiful towns and harbours around St Johns. I see the pictures in Facebook and imagine how many new paintings I will paint when I get there!

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Yevhenii was born in 1976 in Kyiv. Since childhood he was fascinated by visual arts, music, and history. When Yevhenii was 14 years old, he took an interest in archeology and started participating in archaeological expeditions. After that Yevhenii continued his studying of history and arts in National Pedagogical Dragomanov University and graduated in 1999 with a Master’s degree. In 1995 Yevhenii was lucky to become acquainted with Georgiy and Taisia Zaichenko, famous Ukrainian artists. They at once acknowledged the young artist’s interest and eagerly helped to develop it. Two years later, Yevhenii’s works were regularly selected for numerous exhibitions. Yevhenii worked with many established art galleries in Kiev and his work can be found in many public and private collections.
In 2023 Yevhenii arrived in St. John’s and, being deeply impressed by the captivating, charismatic environment, he started a new round of his art career.

Fedorenko is represented in St John’s, NL, by Emma Butler Gallery. Images: “Atlantic Heron”, “October Evening”, “Rowan Tree”,courtesy Emma Butler Gallery.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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