Intelligence Officers of the Era of the Ukrainian People's Republic Through the Eyes of the Military Painter
Artur Orlyonov based on Olha Basarab's photo from her passport. The eyes, gaze, lips, chin - all this makes her portrait realistic and holistic. This is probably the case when the photo does not always show the image of a person, her feelings, the inner world, which the artist can complete with a few brushstrokes.
To the 100th anniversary of the Foreign Intelligence of Ukraine, a portrait gallery of the UPR's intelligence officers opened at the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. The images of representatives of the secret legion of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921 were created by Artur Orlyonov, the Art Director of the Ukrainian Military Art studio.
The idea of reproducing pictures of national heroes on canvas or paper is not new.
At the same time, there is always a lot of problems and questions: how well will they portray the image already established for perception?
Will the picture not lose some human features due to the traditional in such cases glorification?
The Gallery of portraits of Ukrainian intelligence officers at the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine
Will it not result in the loss of the hero's self-identity, and would it not be better to use the one, probably the only, yellowed with age, worn out, with slightly torn corners, black and white photograph taken by an unknown photographer?
I do not know if Artur Orlyonov asked himself such questions. I'm sure he did. Like all artists who dare to take such a step. Otherwise, it is not worth picking up a brush.
Artur Orlyonov used sepia. This is one of the types of graphic technology, which uses shades of brown. “One wrong movement on paper with a special stick”, pointed out the artist, “and the line will not be erased with an eraser”.
As the author of a number of documentary books about Ukrainian intelligence officers, I was curious to see how it would turn out.
At one time, collecting materials for the book about the diplomat and intelligence officer Fedir Borzhynskyi “Shot in the Donbas “for the Betrayal of Russia”), I faced an uneasy problem – non-existence of the hero's photo.
Then with the assistance of the Kyivan artist Mykola Kochubey, the imaginary portrait was created. For this purpose were used memoirs of eyewitnesses, pictures of Borzhinskyi's son, granddaughter, great-granddaughter.
When I got into Artur Orlyonov's room-studio, I realized that he did not confine himself to the heroic intelligence officers' photos provided to him.
On his computer screen there was the uniform of the UPR, character types of people of that period, hairdoes, biographical data of the characters, memoirs about them.
And there were also consultations with historians. This made it possible to convey more clearly not only the appearance, but also, to a certain extent, the inner world of the person.
Most clearly, this was manifested in the reproduction of the image of the mesager of the Ukrainian Military Organization Olha Basarab. So far the most widespread was the graphic drawing, where Olga looked like an adult mature woman.
The most widespread image is Olga Basarab
At the same time, it is known that her life ended at the age of 34, and she then seemed to look even younger. And we have memories of our contemporaries:
”With her tact and intelligence, this little lady (Olha Basarab) with a beautiful haircut of her light- brown hair, with a watchful gaze of her thoughtful eyes and a pleasant smile, made people respect her (Irena Vakhnyanin-Lyoner).
”... middle-aged, round-faced,... lively, active, smart, with a fast elegant gait, a bit short-sighted eyes wisely watched from under the straight eyebrows, and her sincere smile, which rarely left her face, was connecting and infectious” ( Kyrylo Trilyovskyi).
Olha Basarab's Polish passport
In addition, Artur Orlyonov based on Olha Basarab's photo from her passport. And on paper, he restored not only Olha's appearance, but her personality as well.
Her eyes, gaze, lips, chin – they all make her portrait realistic and holistic. This is probably the case when the photo does not always show the image of a person, her feelings, inner world, which the artist can complete with a few bruhstrokes.
Interestingly, Artur Orlyonov tried to reproduce the signature to the picture (Olha Basarab) in Olha's handwriting.
Portrait- by Artur Orlyonov
The portrait of Yakiv Halchevskyi –irreconcilable to Bolsheviks insurgent Otaman Orel and later the leader of the intelligence station in Volyn of the military special service of the State Center of the UPR in exile, first looked to me somewhat unexpected for perception.
His best known photos were different: during the emigration, in the uniform of the Polish Army with three orders for heroism and courage, from the granite monument on the grave.
In all of them one can see first of all, a hard-baked warrior, commander, fighter. That is how he is reproduced in some drawings of professional artists and amateurs.
But there was another photo - from the State Archive of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, recently introduced to scientists. In it, Halchevskyi is forever a young man.
Yakiv Halchevskyi in his young years.
From the SZRU State Archive
It is this photo that prompted the artist to add nobility to the image and to depict Halchevskyi in a civilian suit with sharp intelligent eyes.
But then, if we take biographies of prominent members of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921, we will see that most of them had higher education - whether they were the military or teachers.
Yakiv Halchevskyi began to teach at the church parish school. Then he fought in the First World War. After demobilization he returned to his pedagogical activity.
For some time, he was a teacher and then the headmaster of a village school. At history lessons students were listening with interest to his stories about Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, Ivan Honta and Ustym Karmelyuk. All his life he dreamed to teach schoolchildren grammar, kindness and love. But that was not destined...
This intellectuality, coupled with a strong-willed character, made Yakiv Halchevskyi's artistic image humane, not excessively heroic – of silicon and steel.
Portrait- by Artur Orlyonov
Thanks to the found investigation on the case of Petro Lipko - the last Chief of Staff of the UPR Army and one of the organizers of intelligence work during the Directorate, we managed to get a number of his different photographs, in particular, in the period uniform.
This made the artist's work easier. At the same time, here he also had to deeply study the biography.
”.. Petro Lipko graduated from the 2-forms public school, studied for one year at the teacher's seminary, but was not destined to become a teacher. His future had in store for him a brilliant military career...
He also tried to prove to himself and to other people that a man from an ordinary Cossack family was capable of not only fighting bravely, but also of commanding professionally... In 1911 he graduated from the Imperial Nicholas Military Academy...
He commanded divisions and army corps. He spoke German, French and Polish … “.
Petro Lipko's life was not easy, with lots of dramatic turns. This left a trace in his character, got engraved in the photographs that have survived to this day, and was reflected in the image created by the artist.
Portrait- by Artur Orlyonov
Working on the image of Mykola Krasovskyi, the Chief of the Information Bureau of the Intelligence Department of the Armed Forces of the Ukrainian People's Republic, the artist had to “ change” the hero's uniform and to adjust his gaze.
In the photo that has survived, Krasovskyi is looking away, while in the picture – he is staring straight before him. This adds expression to the image. It is the eyes that in this case most clearly reveal the character.
One of the documentary essays mentions the eyes: “They radiated determination, stubbornness, equanimity and even a sort of self-confidence”.
And while working on this image, the artist was struck by Mykola Krasovskyi's own words from the preface to the instructions for the Information Bureau about what people should work in intelligence, with what features of the character.
”... Not everyone has a real capability of intelligence work, because it is also God’s gift – a talent which can be developed and perfected, but in no case it can be instilled into a person who was not born with this talent, it is impossible at least as it is impossible to become an artist, poet or sculptor just because one wants to.
So, without this above- mentioned holy fire, even with a college degree and a significant length of service, one cannot be useful to an intelligence organization and cannot belong to the ranks of the family, which is ideologically and wholly dedicated to its favorite work ”.
Portrait- by Artur Orlyonov
Ivan Vyslotskyi, Starshyna (senior officer) of the Intelligence Department of the Ukrainian Galician Army, in his portrait, as in all his photographs, looks serious, concentrated and even a little tired.
But then, he had gone through the First World War, Russian captivity and camps in Chita and Ufa, service in the Ukrainian Galician Army, hard years in exile in Europe and South America...
He had more than enough reasons to worry about Ukraine's difficult destiny. In his imagination, the artist saw him exactly in this internal state.
Portrait- by Artur Orlyonov
Perhaps the most difficult task was to portray Petro Filonenko (also spelt Fylonenko- as carved on the tombstone in South- Bound-Brook, USA).
This brave insurgent Otaman, intelligence officer of the Partizan-Insurgent Headquarters under the leadership of Yurko Tyutyunnyk, UPA soldier was aptly described by the Chief of the special service of the State Center of the UPR in exile Vsevolod Zmiyenko:
”Petro Filonenko is an extremely brave senior officer, who, fulfilling the tasks assigned to him by the Staff, more than once had crossed the Polish-Soviet border with his group and in the rear of the occupied Ukraine smashed death-squads and Soviet militia”.
The only image of Petro Filonenko was found at the museum of the history of national special services of the National Academy of the SBU. Unfortunately, it's of poor quality. In this situation, the artist had to rely on his intuition.
Portrait - by Artur Orlyonov
But then, the aim of creating artistic images is not always the photographic accuracy of the reproduction of the hero. Especially when it comes to those whose photos after all those years have not survived.
More importantly, of course, is not to slander against the historical truth, and even more important is to draw attention to a certain person, to make one stop and have a closer look at his eyes, mood, gaze, clothes, some tiny detail.
And then to take the mobile phone and google the unknown or not-well-known surname. And to find out more...
Among the representatives of the national intelligence, interesting and extraordinary personalities of that period were much more numerous than the exposition to the 100th anniversary of the Foreign Intelligence of Ukraine could contain.
Artur Orlyonov succeeded in enlivening on the paper only some of them. At the same time, another step has been taken in the process of reproduction and restoration of national memory, which should last forever.
By Oleksandr Skrypnyk