Mosaics at Kyiv river passenger terminal are distinct cultural and public phenomenon in Ukraine’s history – arts experts


Kyiv, February 17, 2016. Renovation of the river passenger terminal at Poshtova square in Kyiv is a disputable issue in the artistic community. Monumental and decorative architecture of the terminal is a phenomenon in Ukraine’s culture. It represents not only a period in Ukrainian arts but also a public and cultural phenomenon in Ukraine’s history. Decorations of the terminal actually “started a new stage in Ukrainian wall-painting – monumental art of the second half of the XX century that produced a distinct public impact and reflected changes in the society. Artists that worked over the project are classics of Ukrainian art: Ivan Lytovchenko, Valeriy Lamakh, Ernest Kotkov etc.,” noted researcher Galyna Sklyarenko at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

According to Yevhenia Molyar, curator of the “SOVIET MOSAICS IN UKRAINE” project by Izolyatsia foundation, inside the river passenger terminal there are one of the first monumental panels and friezes. At that time they were experimental as the authors were using ceramic tiles, colored cement and were mixing various techniques. “The whole building is a consolidated artistic piece. The entire work is a combination of architecture and monumental art and is an inseparable artistic and architectural piece,” noted Molyar emphasizing that it is impossible to take away a part of the artistic work even if it may seem inappropriate to somebody in the light of de-communization processes.

Researcher Lizaveta German emphasized that it is important to explain the artistic value of these works to people, why they are interesting, why one can be proud of them as well as explain their political context in modern language. “Not everything that was created at that time is communist, otherwise everything created in the XX century should have been destroyed,” German is convinced. Natalia Lytovchenko, daughter of Ivan Lytovchenko who is one of the authors of mosaics at the river passenger terminal and award-winning Ukrainian artist, added that back then it would have not been possible for artists to create these works without referring to the socialist context. She also said that the mosaics are also valuable as they mark the transition from Stalin-era pompous architecture to constructivism of the 60s.

Arts experts are unanimous as to the need to have the plates installed by each of these works that would say the works are cultural and historic heritage and would explain the history of its making and its cultural meaning. Spokesman of “RichPort” (River Port) Anton Freedland said main mission of having the river passenger terminal renovated is to return its tourist function. The plan is to create a gallery of restaurants inside, this way everybody will be able to see the interior of the terminal. Also, the plan is to create a restaurant-museum, it will be telling the story of Dnipro and of the river transport. “Whether to preserve the mosaics or not – is not on the agenda, they are surely to be preserved. They will be definitely taken into consideration when changing the terminal planning and adjusting its functionality,” reassured Freedland. He said the project will be implemented while keeping in mind that the river passenger terminal is to regain its transportation function someday. Visual concept is to be presented in late February – in the beginning of March, first part of the project is due to be ready in summer.