Olexa BULAVITSKY 1916 — 2001
Олекса БУЛАВИЦЬКИЙ • Алексей Васильевич БУЛАВИЦКИЙ
When Olexa Bulavitsky died in 2001, after a long illness, the Twin Cities lost one of its finest painters. Born in Uman, Ukraine, in 1916, he received private tutoring under Professor Yarovy, one of the areas master painters. Bulavitsky attended the Odessa Art School, the Kyiv Art Institute and the Leningrad Academy of Art.
Prior to World War II, he worked in the Kyiv Movie studios and in theatres where he designed sets and painted backgrounds for operas and the world famous Bolshoi Ballet.
After the Germans invaded his country, he was sent to a prison work camp. After several years, as the war was winding down, he decided to escape. In full view of his guards he walked out of the potato field where he was working, toward a row of trees, expecting to hear the shot of a rifle and feel a bullet tearing into his back. He had seen other prisoners killed. But the shot never came. He walked away.
After the war, his paintings were exhibited in Ukraine as well as Western European cities such as Munich, Regensburg, Elwangene, Paris and Amsterdam.
He emigrated to the United States in 1950, settling in Minneapolis. At first he worked for various architects doing renderings of building projects. His superb sense of color and impressionistic brush strokes gained the admiration of many collectors and fellow artists. He exhibited in New York, Detroit, Winnipeg, and Toronto as well as Rapid City, Moorhead, St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Yet this great artist never attained the fame and fortune he so richly deserved. One glance from major New York dealer might have launched him into the stratosphere but it did not happen. It frustrated him to see others with modest talents dribbling paint on canvas and calling it art. It must have been discouraging in the 1970’s, when some American dealers “discovered” caches of Russian impressionists paintings and began selling them at four and five times the prices Bulavitsky was asking.
There is now a great interest in Bulavitsky’s works in Ukraine.