Perfetsky, Leonid

Image - Leonid Perfetsky: A Cossacks Battle with Tatars (1921). Image - Leonid Perfetsky: Raising Ukrainian Flag on Black Sea Fleet in April 1918. Image - Leonid Perfetsky: [The Battle of] Kruty. Image - Leonid Perfetsky: And the Fifth Angel Blew his Trumpet. Image - Leonid Perfetsky: Brass Band Entering Kyiv. Image - Leonid Perfetsky: Cavalry Attack.

Perfetsky, Leonid [Перфецький, Леонід; Perfec'kyj; also Perfecky], b 23 February 1901 in Ladyzhynka, Kyiv gubernia, d 25 October 1977 in Montreal, Quebec. Painter and illustrator. During the First World War his family fled to Kazan in Tatarstan, Russian Empire. Leonid finished high school in Orel, and entered university in Moscow. He was mobilized and completed officer cadet school in Peterhof near Petrograd. After the October Revolution of 1917 he enlisted in the army of the Independent Tatar Republic and continued university studies in Kazan. He moved to Kyiv to join the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic in which he served as a cavalry commander. In 1921 he retreated with the UNR Army to Poland and enrolled at the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts. In 1925 Perfetsky moved to Paris and studied in André Lhote’s Art Academy. He lived and worked there until 1941 when he was deported to Germany as a forced farm laborer. In 1942 Ukrainske Vydavnytstvo (Cracow) arranged to get him moved to Lviv where he worked as an illustrator for its monthly Nashi dni and as an art teacher. In 1944 he joined the Division Galizien as a war artist. In 1945 he became a displaced person and lived in a displaced persons camp in Salzburg. He emigrated to Canada in 1954 and lived in Montreal.

During his stay in Paris Perfecky’s work was influenced by Cubism, but none of his art from this period has been found. His Cubist painting, Sailor, was exhibited in 1931 in Lviv at the First Exhibition of the Association of Independent Ukrainian Artists (ANUM). Perfetsky is best known for his figuratively rendered paintings and drawings of battle scenes. These include depictions of the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21 (eg. Kruty, January 29, 1918, and Capture of the Kyiv Arsenal, February 4, 1918) and Ukrainian-Polish War in Galicia, 1918–19, (eg, The Defence of the Railway Station in Lviv), as well as a series of drawings dedicated to depictions of the Division Galizien in which he served (eg. Slovenia: Machine Gun in Action or The Final Salute). Perfetsky also painted historical events from the Cossack period, such as The Meeting of Charles XII with the Cossacks, The Cossacks at Trebizond, and Cossack Surprise Attack. He illustrated Ivan Kotliarevsky’s Eneïda potraying Enei and his comrades as soldiers of the UNR Army. During his stay in Austria Perfetsky created a series of watercolors and colored pencil drawings depicting Ukrainian Plast scouts. ‘The Revelation of Saint John the Divine’ is his most ambitious series of paintings executed using a variety of mixed media: watercolors, gouache, pastels, oils, and colored pencils. In 24 nightmarish visions of the end of the world, Perfetsky included the threat of nuclear annihilation. He painted realistic murals for the Roman Catholic Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal depicting scenes from the life of Brother Andrew, Founder of the Oratory. He also painted the murals in the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church. Solo exhibitions of his work were held in 1962 in Edmonton, and in 1965 in New York and Philadelphia. A monograph, edited by Sviatoslav Hordynsky and titled Leonid Perfecky, was published (in Ukrainian, English, and French) in New York and Toronto in 1990.

Daria Darewych

[This article was updated in 2020.]


Image - Leonid Perfetsky: an illustration to Eneida by Ivan Kotliarevsky. Image - Leonid Perfetsky: Winter Campaign: A Cavalry Attack.


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