Ukrainian artist couple falls in love with UAE

ABU DHABI — There are no palm trees or pools of water in this 'Oasis Dreams'. An art exhibition, it rather has rich, brightly coloured flowers and countryside landscapes from the green and beautiful Ukraine.


Silvia Radan

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Published: Wed 27 Aug 2008, 1:30 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:10 PM

Some of the Eastern European country's newest paintings were unveiled at Ghaf Art Gallery here on Sunday night, by Maria Ralko and Stanislav Adamenko, two of Ukraine's most prolific artists. The exhibition will continue until August 31.

The couple have brought with them art works from Fund Art, their own gallery in Kiev, including some of Ralko's latest works.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, the couple revealed their passions, projects and dreams for the future.

"We met each other while we were students at Ukraine's Academy of Art, from where we graduated as architects," says Ralko. After completing their postgraduation, the two young artists started working together, and their big break came when they were asked to take part in the reconstruction of Kiev Opera House, some 20 years ago.

"It took us five years to come up with the design. We combined interior design with architecture, creating a contemporary concept that made our Opera Theatre match up to the high European standards," recalls Adamenko.

This work fetched them not only Ukraine's highest awards in arts and architecture, but opened doors to success far beyond the country's borders.

In 1998, the couple was invited to run the architectural office of the country's presidential administration, which meant they designed and worked on the residential houses of Ukraine's presidents, as well as other administrative and official buildings.

"Our latest major project is the iconic Mariinsky Palace. The renovation project is underway," informs Adamenko.

The Mariinsky Palace, built in the middle of the 18th century in Baroque style by Italian architect Rastrelli, is the Ukrainian version of Versailles Palace in France.

While doing all this architectural and interior design work, Ralko and Adamenko did not ignore painting and other fine arts, which they had practised with passion since their student days.

"We've always returned to painting. The soul needs to be satisfied and through this medium we can express our feelings, our views and ideas of life," explains the couple.

That's why, seven years ago, the two artists opened their own private gallery in Kiev that displays not only their own works, but also those of Ukraine's contemporary artists, including Alexander Adamenko, the couple's son, who followed his parents' footsteps and is now an established artist and architect.

Some of Ralko's paintings and even stain-glass are inspired by the UAE's heritage. "We've been coming to the UAE for the past four-five years and we are very much impressed by the Islamic art, especially Arabic calligraphy," points out Ralko.

"We love the architecture of the Emirates Palace and one of the great things about staying here now is that we can visit the ongoing Picasso exhibition every day," adds Adamenko.

In the future, the couple plans to cement its connection with the UAE even further.

"We plan to open a representation of our gallery in Abu Dhabi. It will exhibit Ukraine's rich and wonderful works of art, not only from our own collection, but from other galleries and museums as well," reveals Adamenko.

The plan also includes master classes in art, held by the professors of Kiev's Art Academy.

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