Prokopenko Mykola Antonovych (04.07.1924 – 25.02.2001) – an artist-graphic, a member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine (1959), Honorable Citizen of Korsun-Shevchenkivskiy (1998).
He was born in the village of Kvitky of Korsun-Shevchenkivskiy (now – Zvenyhorodka) district. Since childhood, he dreamed of becoming an artist, but the war hurt his dreams. In his 19 years he found himself at forced labor in Germany, then – Austria. He returned home in 1945.
He studied at the Dnipropetrovsk Art School for two years and graduated from the Kyiv Art Institute (1956). For three years he was working as an art editor of the publishing house “Youth”, then was engaged only by creative activities, which began in the 60’s of the twentieth century. These were the years of the famous Khrushchov “thaw”. But it was felt more in Moscow, in Ukraine the leadership of the republic kept artists “in black body”, ensuring compliance with the principles of socialist realism. For Mykola Antonovych, this period of his work was characterized by complex and intense searches. He began to write series of paintings on historical themes. The first one was series of paintings “Echo” (1964), based on the novel by Ivan Franko “Zahar Berkut”. In the canvases of that time epic note of the artist was underlined by expressive composition and complex technique: embossed painting, tempera.
In his autobiography Mykola Antonovych called the surnames of many European artists who had impressed him as unsurpassed colorists. Among the others – there is French painter Paul Gauguin. Probably it was from Gauguin that he borrowed the traits of a rebel. Besides the artist was admired by the creative work of the great French artist of the XIX century Paul Cézanne.
Telling about the years of training at the institute, Mykola Antonovych recalled with warmth Academician Vasyl Kasian who carried on the course at graphic department. Kasian’s influence on Prokopenko was so great that Mykola Antonovych is better known today as a graphic artist. During his life he designed and illustrated more than 200 books of classics of Ukrainian and world literature, created more than 100 portraits of prominent people of Ukraine. Mykola Antonovych created graphic portraits at the expense of his mother’s virtuoso mastering of material of drawing and drawing techniques. His trait was incredibly diverse and artistic, all works are bulk. Among all the graphic portraits painted by Prokopenko, “Portrait of a Mother” (1979) stands out for its skill.
The main works of the artist: a series of paintings “Echo” (1964), “Word about Igor’s regiment” (1978), paintings “Tell me, mummy” (1988), “In pensive” (1992). The funds of the Korsun-Shevchenkivsky State Historical and Cultural Preserve contain 2,308 works by Mykola Prokopenko. His works are in 20 more museums and in many private collections in Ukraine and abroad.
He participated in 21 collective art exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad. Personal art exhibitions: Art Gallery of Korsun-Shevchenkivskiy State Historical and Cultural (1997), Kyiv State Museum the T.H. Shevchenko (1998), Cherkasy Regional Art Museum (1999).
Creativity of Mykola Prokopenko, one of the most talented Ukrainian graphic-artists, is waiting to be recognized.