Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

The 1960s were the time of searching for the new language of visual art: cinema, book design, painting and theatre. Not only on the territory of Ukraine and the USSR, but in the Western countries as well – for a number of reasons, this decade created the environment for re-evaluating the previous approaches to art and introducing dramatic changes to them. The reinterpretation of Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors was such a “dramatic” change for the Ukrainian culture. It was on the basis of this story that the artists made a new product that did not become attractive to masses and widely popular, but it provided an alternative: a way of looking at the things you already know without turning to outdated forms.

A film and a book (as an artistic object) – these two methods of revisiting the classics were offered in the 1960s. The production set of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors in 1963-1965 was not just the place for making one of the masterpieces of the Ukrainian cinema, it also gathered very talented people of that time: Serhiy Parajanov, Yuriy Illienko, Heorhiy Yakutovych, Ivan Mykolaichuk, Larysa Kadochnykova, Lidiia Baikova and others. The illustration of the book by Yakutovych was a more personal process that initiated the painter’s individual creative search and demonstrated the general striving of graphic artists for a harmonious book design. Anyhow, both phenomena always told us about something bigger: about how artists’ attitude towards the world and culture was changing.

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