Project vision

Ivan Honchar had a vision to create an illustrative history of the Ukrainian people - to show the historical and cultural identity of various villages and cities of Ukraine, which was rapidly disappearing before his eyes, to show the aesthetic wealth of the Ukrainian nation in clothing, types, crafts, customs, architecture and picturesque landscapes through old photographs.

Now the project team is rethinking the precious legacy of Ivan Honchar, therefore, the album included materials from all regions of Ukraine, but it pays the greatest attention to those areas that were most affected by the humanitarian and man-made disasters of the last century, as well as the destruction of the current Russian-Ukrainian war.

Project relevance

The current moment in the history of Ukraine is both dramatic and full of great potential. During the full-scale war with Russia, a fundamental transformation of values continues - i.e. Ukraine is formulating its new actual identity, finally returning to the cultural field shared with Europe and the whole world.

The totalitarian practices of the 18th and 20th centuries systematically destroyed the precious heritage, and everyone who communicated values through culture - both folk craftsmen and famous innovators - were repressed, sent to the Gulag, annihilated during wars and the Holodomor. For the rest of the citizens, the system created a funny hoax - and fostered an inferiority complex in the people.

Design and artistic aesthetics help to represent non-verbal knowledge about who we are, what we strive for and what story we tell about ourselves. The publication is a powerful statement that presents to Ukraine and the world the real fabric of national memory - preserved, restored and modernized.


Project team

Petro Honchar, director of the National Center of Folk Culture "The Ivan Honchar Museum"

"It is known that for the last thirty years of his life, Ivan Honchar was in opposition to the Soviet government and wore the brand of a "bourgeois nationalist." It was at a time when, after Khrushchev's "thaw", the smallest manifestations of democracy and national self-awareness were suppressed. Telephone threats, arson, blackmail and provocations followed, and then the KGB's proposal: either publicly renounce your views and have everything an artist needs, including fame, commissions, and wealth, or live in isolation, in fact under house arrest. And probably, if he had chosen the first, few would have condemned him: most of his acquaintances and friends at that time were already intimidated, and the most active were in prison, and the father had almost no moral support. The situation was so oppressive and hopeless that the light could only be seen in the proposals of the KGB. But Ivan Honchar chose the most difficult and purest - serving the truth. And he was inspired and supported in this by his boundless love for his people."

Maryna Hrymych, scientific curator of the publication

"I am a person who works with texts of traditional culture all my conscious life, but... mainly with verbal texts. In this project, I had a lucky opportunity to dive into the world of Ukrainian visual culture and work with another category of texts, where sometimes quite understandable, and sometimes mysterious plots were imprinted in old photos. They were passionately collected by Ivan Honchar, starting in the 1960s, he carefully selected the most important ones, in his opinion, for his multi-volume album, lovingly decorating it with his own drawings and leaving lapidary comments, having specially developed an artistic font for this! These visual plots are very different. They contain both our aesthetics and our cultural heritage - material and immaterial, unfortunately, to a large extent lost, they also contain historical lessons of the 20th century. and even encrypted messages from Ivan Makarovych to us today, of which I would name the main one: let's remember!"

Natalia Kamenska and Maria Gavrilyuk, co-founders of the GUNIA Project

"We are inspired by the heritage of Ukrainian and world decorative and applied art. In our work, we interpret the aesthetics of different historical eras and support the further development of crafts. We consider it important to demonstrate Ukrainian art on the world stage.

We understand the importance of publishing such an album at the present moment, as we strive to completely rediscover the Ukrainian code for our future generations and make the Ukrainian voice heard and recognized in the world.

Therefore, we are happy and inspired to join forces with the Ivan Honchar Museum to implement this project."

Anna Kuts, designer and art director of the publication

"As history shows, in the most difficult times, cultural development accelerates its pace in a geometric progression. It would seem that resources and opportunities are becoming fewer. And this acute artistic opposition is actualized more than ever. It was also a mouthpiece during the sixties, with the terrible regime of destruction of everything that was subject to the separation of the Soviet Union and the claim for independent Ukraine. For which we (if I may say for everyone) are grateful to Ivan Makarovych. Because his work throughout his life was preserved, not destroyed, not burned. And it exists now, today, and it's a miracle! And today, in my opinion, it is important to raise all archives, all possible materials that will once again remind us who Ukrainians are,  how we were formed,  and answer the question "How will we be formed in the future?". The latter is rhetorical for each of us."