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A century has passed since the birth of a great Ukrainian artist
Kateryna Bilokur. Those hundred years comprised flashes of talents,
successes and failures, victories and disappointments.

Kateryna Bilokur was born in a peasant family in 1900 in the village of
Bohdanivka near Yahotyn. She did not have any education and had to study
by herself. She mastered literacy, read a lot and her soul craved for
something unattainable.

The great word ‘artist’ seemed to her so magic and beautiful. She said
to herself that sooner or later she would become an artist. She kept
repeating that life without art wasn’t possible for her.

She had been very gifted in painting since her childhood. It was
possibly the God’s providence that directed her hands, taught to discern
colours and group the colour range. She began painting portraits of her
relatives and villagers. In her later works Kateryna would extol a
flower — the beauty of the land.

Her paintings derived from the life-giving source of folk creativity
based on songs, legends, tales and decorative arts. She admired the
patterns on household utensils, Ukrainian clothes, towels, but her
tender poetic soul was mostly charmed by flowers that blossomed around
her house, in the gardens, meadows and fields. She called them ‘my
children’ considering them human beings. Some pictures have her own
captions: “Painted from nature by K.Bilokur”.

She also called the flowers “the eyes of the Earth, the soul of the
Earth”. Through them she comprehended nature and deepened her knowledge
about it. She glorified flowers and said: “I’ll paint and paint flowers
because I like to work on them so that I can’t find words to express my
feelings to them, my great love for them”.

Kateryna Bilokur first exhibited her paintings in Poltava and Kyiv in
1940-41. She was warmly welcome by her colleagues — Ukrainian artists
and her way to recognition started.

But the Great Patriotic War began and her eleven paintings were burnt in
Poltava museum. She lived through hardships and difficulties of this
war. The 1950s saw another raise in her artistic career. Her works were
exhibited in Moscow and other cities. The public was charmed by her
pictures “Peonies”, “Still life with bread”, “Breakfast”, “Flowers and
walnuts” and others.

But a well-known painter Kateryna Bilokur had lived all her life in pain
and poverty; she did not have any family or children. The grave illness
tortured her, besides she had to look after her sick mother.

Great fame came later, after her death. The time has come to pay
tribute: her works are exhibited in museums in Ukraine and abroad, a
picture gallery bearing her name was open in Yahotyn, a street was named
after her in Kyiv. A lot of books devoted to her life and works are
published in many languages. The Bilokur Prize Fund was founded for
praising the most talented artists and painters.

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