The Artist of Chernobyl and Pripyat

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Dedicated to 30th anniversary of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Roman Gumanyuk's exhibition "Pripyat Lights or Chernobyl Shadows" will open in Sofia at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, on April 27, 2016.

26 April 1986 by Roman Gumanyuk

26 April 1986

The explosion on fourth power block of Chernobyl NPP

30 years have passed since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Hundreds of thousands men were exposed to the destructive effects of radiation. The vast areas adjacent to the nuclear power plant in Ukraine and Belarus will be uninhabitable for at least 100 years. These are the disappointing results of this major accident that has become the biggest environmental disaster in the modern history of mankind. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is located 110 km north of Kiev and 20 km south of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, on the Pripyat River. The plant was designed and built during the 1970s and 1980s.

The accident happened at 1:23 a.m. on April 26, 1986, when plant operators were carrying out an experiment to test a way of cooling the core of the reactor in an emergency situation. The experiment resulted in a loss of control over the fourth power block; there was a huge explosion that destroyed the reactor itself and the technological building of power block too.

Huge amounts of radioactive materials were spewed into the environment. Tiny radioactive particles have risen into the upper atmosphere and spread over vast areas. Within days, the fallout settled over much of the Western Soviet Union, Europe and across the Northern Hemisphere. The large part of the radioactive fallout after the explosion landed in 30-kilometers radius of plant. The towns of Pripyat and Chernobyl located in close proximity to the plant, as well as all the settlements located on the 30-kilometers zone around the NPP (now "The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone") were evacuated. More than 600 thousands of military and civilian specialists were participated at the period 1986-1992 in works on liquidation of consequences of the disaster.

Roman Gumanyuk's series of paintings "Pripyat Lights or Chernobyl Shadows" open to the viewer apocalyptic world of the Chernobyl disaster. Created on the observations and impressions of the artist, the paintings, tell us about the events of April 1986, the "life" of ghost towns Pripyat and Chernobyl today. The artist painted his canvases using sketches he made during his trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, visited him in 2012.

The paintings reflect the desolation, ruins, sadness, rejection and mystical fear that everyone feels who had been in those places. The concept of the series, consisting of 30 paintings, defines its name.

"In my paintings, I proceeded from the fact that the lights in an empty city doesn’t burn anymore. The lights of Pripyat – it’s a shadows of Chernobyl", said the author.

Each of the paintings is permeated by a sense of catastrophe, existential doom and despair: the dormitory corridor, littered with gas masks - "Green Corridor". Restless shadows - witnesses of past events - "White Shadows". Overgrown lush streets of empty Pripyat - "Jungle of Pripyat." Attraction "Ferris Wheel", which worked only one day - "Lights of Pripyat"...

Through his artworks the artist tells to the audience: Chernobyl is not a complete disaster, whose horror can be reflected retrospectively. This catastrophe lies in front of us, and its fatality is in that, that it has launched a perpetuum mobile, perpetual motion machine of fear and the task of mankind is to avoid such fatal mistakes in the future.

A series of paintings "Pripyat Lights or Chernobyl Shadows" was first presented to the public in 2012 in Bishkek (Kyrgyz National Fine Arts Museum). Later it was shown in Almaty ( Kazakhstan National Museum of Art ) ; In Belarus , Gomel (Art Gallery of Vashchanka ) ; In Ukraine , Chernihiv ( Art Museum of Galagan ) and in Kharkov ( Chernobyl Museum ) . Among the guests of the exhibition were the liquidators of the Chernobyl accident and former residents of Pripyat city. Looking at the paintings, many of them were attached by memories. They noted the veracity with which the artist has managed to reproduce the atmosphere of the places and that time.

For the series of paintings about the Chernobyl disaster the artist was awarded to the Order of "Tchest ta Poshana" Chernobyl Union of Ukraine and the commemorative medal of the Union of Chernobyl Kyrgyzstan, “the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.”

Roman Gumanyuk was born in 1985 in Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek city. The artist has Ukrainian roots. He has held 24 solo exhibitions. His paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries of Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Bulgaria, France, USA and Italy. Roman is the participant VI International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Florence (Italy).

The artist works in various genres and techniques. His works are in the collections of museums, private collections and art lovers from all around the world.

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