Portraits and Still Life
Along with political and military themed works, the Maniichuk-Brady Collection contains portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes. Some of these portrait pieces include depictions of the collector, Jurii Maniichuk, and his wife, as well as portraits of Ukrainian workers and soldiers. These portraits and still-lifes offer a glimpse into the culture of Ukraine during the Soviet period. They also show the changes in Ukrainian art during the Thaw, a period during which the political and cultural control the USSR had over Ukraine weakened.
The painters of the Thaw generation experimented with their art and instead of having to depict idealized images they were able to leave the meanings behind their paintings more open to interpretation. Many of the tendencies that characterized Ukrainian Socialist Realism of the Thaw period continued into the 1970's and beyond. During this period artists were able to develop their own styles and create paintings based off of their own internal contemplation instead of just commissioned political works. This led to a variety of portraits, landscapes, and still-lifes that depicted different subject matters and stylistic choices. "Memory" and "Model" are just two examples of the beautiful and unique works created by Ukrainian artists during this time.
Many of these portraits and still-lifes were painted using vibrant colors, expressive brush strokes, and sharp contours. During the later decades of this movement, some artists became more interested in icon painting, folk art, and Medieval and Renaissance artistic aesthetics. This led to an abundance of artistic experimentation within the narratives of landscapes, portraiture, or still-life paintings. Although the Soviet Union was near collapse at this time, many Ukrainian artists had to conform to the Artist's Union's demands for depictions of Lenin and happy, idealized paintings of workers and soldiers.
The Maniichuk-Brady Collection allows viewers to experience the subtle changes in artistic styles over the decades following Stalin and preceding the fall of the U.S.S.R. (1953-1991). The landscapes, portraits, and still-lifes in this collection were, in particular, beautifully rendered and represent the emotions and experimentation Ukrainian artists went through in a tightly wound political and social climate.