Born in 1975 in the city of Lviv, the cultural center of western Ukraine, Taras Borovyk was raised in a mecca of art and culture with Austrian, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian influences. Taras graduated Lviv’s Art School and College of Applied Arts in 1994, following which he went on to become a noted exposition designer at Art Palace in Lviv.
Taras traveled to the United States in 1997, where he used his rich background in art education and work experience to create murals in elegant homes in the New York tri-state region. In addition to his murals, Taras has had multiple exhibitions in the city since 2002. The artist works in an array of media, from acrylic on cork to oil on canvas to wood and metal sculptures. Defined by highly saturated colors and smooth layers, Taras’s work practically jumps off the canvas and envelops the viewer.
“Art lives within a person, manifesting itself as a vibrant shadow of the intricacies of existence.”
We asked Taras more about his work and his artistic upbringing.
You say in your artist statement that you do not create art “unless it creates itself” as you work. What do you mean by this?
There are many meanings to that phrase. The most important one is that it does NOT mean that I will not work unless there is inspiration! I start working on something without knowing what it can become. There’s an image or idea, but the artwork itself has to dictate its own outcome. It makes me do what it wants really. I simply filter it at the end.
Inspiration is when you see something and then do the work. Somehow I think this is a little off. Yes, there are things that can inspire me to work, but most of the time it comes from within. And when it does, I work to a point where I can’t stop until I am satisfied. It’s like a drug without prescription, a drive from inside of you.
What was it like growing up in Ukraine? How did your upbringing affect and inspire your art?
When I was born, Ukraine was one of the republics of the USSR, under the communist regime. This was not exactly the Ukrainian people’s choice. Russia and her politicians forced their ways of life. I was very lucky. My parents were patriotic and very intelligent, so they taught me what to say and when to say it without consequences. At that time, people were imprisoned for saying the wrong thing. I knew who I was, anyway. The USSR fell apart before I got to college and Ukraine became independent.
Then everything changed. Everyone that was suppressed became free. No one had to hide their culture anymore. Anyone could say what they were thinking. At the same time, art was reborn. It was as if handcuffs were removed. When you keep something under high pressure for a long time and then release it, it explodes. I happened to be in college then, and everyone wanted to be the best. Competition and pride would make the best of you.
A lot of your paintings are of buildings or doorways. Are these based on or inspired by specific places? What do you like about this subject?
It is perhaps one of the ways I look at life. Most of the buildings and doorways are from my home town of Lviv. There are many doorways in my house and on my property. Every doorway is a walk through from one place to another. Sometimes it is almost like leaving your skin on the other side. Now think of doorways that are hundreds of years old. These doors are so thick and have their own smell and character. After all that time, so many people have walked through them, so many different times. There’s so much history, it’s like they have souls of their own.
Note: Taras has a very distinctive style. The two paintings above are done on different mediums. They are both very different (in terms of the depth of color) and yet very similar at the same time.
Each of your works is a conglomeration of layers of color and techniques and are meant to tell a story, mimicking the layers of life. What is the significance of these layers?
In my opinion, layering is the rediscovering of old and new and then mixing it all together. It’s like a soup – you put in different ingredients and then stir them up in the pot. Maybe you paint something and then try to fix it by painting over what you didn’t like. I think layers are just a reflection of any action that happened before, whether that was on canvas, sculpture or in life.
The stories can be tales of any viewer, with a little imagination. What I mean by mimicking layers of life is a simple connection between how life is lived and the way of life. Every moment of life is like creating something.
You also paint murals in addition to works on canvas. Do you prefer one method over the other?
Murals are a totally different beast. On a bigger scale, you often have to do what you wouldn’t do on canvas when a commission makes the rules. There are some murals in private homes now. If I didn’t paint totally what I wanted in those murals, I used that experience as inspiration for future work.
Do you work in any other mediums?
My philosophy is that everything you do should be art, even something as simple as cutting grass. It would be hard to remember all of the mediums I have worked with, but some of them are stained glass, mosaics, metal, cooper, wood, original glass and tile mosaic, and all sorts of mixed mediums.
Who has been your biggest artistic influence?
Many artists, however talented and skilled, have nothing to show after college. I went to one of the best art schools, yet that was nothing compared to my experience with Orest Scop. I consider myself very lucky to have had my first job at the Palace of Arts. When we met, Orest was the art director and I was working as an Exhibition Installer and Designer. He took me on the tour of a lifetime.
As it turned out, the Palace of Arts was a very small part of his life. He worked as an architect, interior designer, artist, museum designer, and many other positions. He was the one that taught me the way of art and life. Not only did he teach me to open myself up to paint and create, but also how to live with art always on my mind. During a period of just two years, I learned more from him than I had from two art schools. We designed many public interiors together and I helped him to complete two museums. I can’t see how I would be where I am today without that experience.
What do you want your viewers to see in your artwork?
I hope my viewers can find a peace that they can relate to, that brings them hope and good memories.
Collecting art is a highly involving and emotional experience. The artist’s process and intention are some of the factors that make one fall in love with his or her piece. Learn more about our artists’ creative methods and fascinating techniques in the Center Stage and Artist Techniques categories.