A work by the self-taught Ukrainian artist Maria Prymachenko (1909-97) has been hastily added to the Venice Biennale’s main exhibition The Milk of Dreams. The move comes after the Museum of Local History in the town of Ivankiv, which houses a collection of 25 works by the artist, burned down in February shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The gouache-on-paper work titled Scarecrow (1967) has been given pride of place at the start of the sprawling group exhibition curated by Cecilia Alemani. The inclusion of the work was so last-minute that it does not appear in the official catalogue.
Prymachenko’s work draws on traditional Ukrainian folk tales while often reflecting current events that she lived through, including the Second World War and the Cold War.
She is one of the country’s best-known artists, having been awarded Ukraine’s top cultural honour, the Shevchenko National Prize. Her works have also appeared on postage stamps. The bulk of her output is housed in Ukraine's National Museum of Applied Folk Art in Kyiv.