Boichuk, Mykhailo [Бойчук, Михайло; Bojčuk, Myxajlo], b 30 October 1882 in Romanivka, Ternopil county, d 13 July 1937 in Kyiv. Influential Ukrainian modernist painter, graphic artist, and teacher. Boichuk studied at Yuliian Pankevych’s art studio in Lviv (1898), a private art school in Vienna (1899), and the Cracow Academy of Arts (1899–1905). He continued his studies at the Munich and Vienna academies of art and exhibited his works at the Latour Gallery in Lviv in 1905 and in Munich in 1907. While living in Paris (1907–10), Boichuk visited the Académie Ranson and P. Sérusier's studio, and, in 1909, he founded his own studio-school, at which his future wife Sofiia Nalepinska, Mykola Kasperovych, S. Baudouin de Courtenay, S. Segno, J. Lewakowska, O. Shaginian, and H. Szramm studied. That year Boichuk participated in exhibitions of the Salon d'Automne, and in 1910 he and his students held an exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants on the theme of the revival of Byzantine art. In 1910 he also traveled to Italy with Nalepinska and Kasperovych.

After that Boichuk worked as a monumentalist and restorer for the National Museum in Lviv, where he was able to save numerous 15th- and 16th-century icons. In 1911 he visited Kyiv, Saint Petersburg, Novgorod, and Moscow. He painted the murals in the Church of the Holy Trinity in the village of Lemeshi near Chernihiv and directed the restoration of an iconostasis in Kozelets (1912–14). In 1914 he was interned by the tsarist authorities because he was an Austro-Hungarian subject.

After the Revolution of 1917 Boichuk lived in Kyiv. There he became a founding professor of the Ukrainian State Academy of Arts (later the Kyiv State Art Institute), taught monumental art at the academy, and was briefly its rector. In 1925 he was one of the founders of the Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine (ARMU). He visited Germany and France (1926–27). Boichuk formed a school of monumental painting, which continued to develop in Ukraine into the 1930s. He directed a group of artists who contributed monumental paintings and designs to revolutionary celebrations, agit-trains and agit-ships, and the interiors of the Kyiv Theater of Opera and Ballet during the First Congress of Regional Executive Committees (1919), the Kharkiv Opera Theater for the Fifth All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets (1921), the Ukrainian SSR's pavillion at the First All-Russian Cottage Industry and Agriculture Exhibition in Moscow, and the Kyiv Co-operative Institute (1923).

In collaboration with his students, Boichuk created ensembles featuring monumental paintings on contemporary subjects at the Lutsk Army Barracks in Kyiv (1919), the Peasant Sanatorium in Odesa (1927– 8), and the Kharkiv Chervonozavodskyi Ukrainian Drama Theater (frescoes, 1933–5), working at the latter in the then compulsory style of socialist realism. He was arrested by the NKVD in November 1936 on the charge of being an ‘agent of the Vatican,’ interrogated and tortured, and shot on the same day as his two leading students, Ivan Padalka and Vasyl Sedliar. Four months later his wife was also shot.

The works of Boichuk and his school—which included his brother Tymofii Boichuk, Ivan Padalka, Vasyl Sedliar, Sofiia Nalepinska, Mykola Kasperovych, Oksana Pavlenko, Antonina Ivanova, Mykola Rokytsky, Kateryna Borodina, Oleksandr Myzin, Kyrylo Hvozdyk, Pavlo Ivanchenko, Serhii Kolos, Okhrym Kravchenko, Hryhorii Dovzhenko, Onufrii Biziukov, Mariia Kotliarevska, Ivan Lypkivsky, Vira Bura-Matsapura, Yaroslava Muzyka, Oleksandr Ruban, Olena Sakhnovska, Manuil Shekhtman, Mariia Trubetska, Kostiantyn Yeleva, and Mariia Yunak—are an important contribution to Ukrainian and world art.

While in Paris at the end of the 1910s, Boichuk witnessed the birth of modern art and attempted to blend it with aspects of the Ukrainian tradition, developing a style of simplified monumental forms. In his compositions, surfaces are rhythmically integrated with lines. This style became known as Boichukism. (Some art scholars also consider Boichuk to be the founder of the style of Neo-Byzantinism.) Its followers made up a dominant part of the membership of ARMU, which was often attacked by official critics for ‘formalism,’ ‘bourgeois nationalism,’ and focusing on the countryside. After ARMU was disbanded and Boichuk was executed, most of his frescoes and paintings were destroyed, including those found in Lviv museums after the Second World War. Since then, however, a number of Boichuk’s works have reappeared. The principles of Boichukism were followed by a large number of admirers, who sometimes (eg, Nalepinska and Padalka) went on to create their own schools.

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Myroslav Shkandrij

[This article was updated in 2005]

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