Vladimir Shapovalov - Kharkiv, Ukraine

After his early studies in mathematics, Shapovalov became a master of ceramics in 1967.

From 1975 to 1989 he headed the ceramics lab of the Kharkiv Arti-Industrial Institute then began teaching ceramics in the Kharkiv National Design and Art Academy.

His art has been exhibited in America, Australia, Latvia, Russia and the Ukraine.

A description of his work in Vaterpas magazine says, "Only a human being capable of feeling the pulse of life in crumpled clay can reveal its secrets for us."

You can email Vladimir Shapovalov at vladimir@claycolorfire.org

Visit Vladimir Shapovalov's site

Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister Cities Announcement




Text of Vladimir Shapovalov's Slide Lecture, July 12, 2003

Good afternoon, I am Vladimir Shapovalov from Kharkiv, Ukraine. I would like to share some information with you about the ceramic arts of my homeland.

Ukrainian ceramic trade has an ancient history. Tripoli's culture was widespread, from the Danube to the Dnieper, taking in the territory of Roumania, Moldavia and the Ukraine. For the past three centuries several ceramic centers have distinguished themselves in what is now Austria, Hungary, the Dnieper and Poltava regions, and in Slobozanchina.

This Ukrainian ceramic culture is defined by specific technical systems, diversity of forms and their decoration, and uses of earthenware for making children's toys, tiles, containers and decorative sculptural objects.

A standard for mass-production of crockery for all people, no matter how modest their lifestyle, supported the business of at least one hundred handicraft ceramic workshops.

Tens of thousands different levels of handmade wares made their way to seasonal fairs. Ethnographic museums collect samples of stove tiles which were widely used in Transcarpathia during the 19th century.

The potter would outline the design with wet slip (which is colored liquified clay) and bisque fire the pots or tiles in a kiln, later decorating the raised design with more color. Abandoning a traditional system of ornamentation based on simple geometric patterns, they began to depict genre scenes and historic events with amazing ingenuity and freedom. When one tile did not provide enough space to tell the stotry, the scene would spread onto 2 or 3 more tiles. These would be arranged in a row as insular facing for stoves or fireplaces.

Poltava is a large pottery center, featuring the work of Oposhnia, a celebrated artist.

Out of the designs created by the Oposhnian artists came jugs, pots, vases, candlesticks, pitchers, bowls, pumpkin-shaped containers and many zoomorphic vessels in forms of lions, rams, horses and other animals. The technique for forming and decorating these works have evolved over 100 years. Most often they were terracotta and glazed ware.

Ukrainian potters have created their own decorative style using rich, lush plant forms which are derived from styles used in embroidery, weaving and egg painting. Decoration is chiefly done by women.

In the 20th century a few well-known potters were gifted for the creation of sculptural ceramics.

Some famous names are Omeljanenko, Belyck, Kytrysh, and Fedor Gnedoi who was born in the village of Valki, Slobosanchina, in 1893.

Alexander Ganzha, a famous self-taught folkart master was born in 1905 and worked in the Vinnitsa area.

His work features a main character - a man. We can see in his sculptures images of animals and a peculiar sense of composition. Both domestic and imaginary animals as well as lions would appear in his pieces.

Ganzha used white clay into which he wedged alot of sand and then would build by hand without a wheel. His work seems to be made of stone because the surface is rough.

Fedor Gnedoi, also a self-taught ceramic master, used his clay for making genre scenes and depicting historic events. Sometimes city people, and sometimes peasants with animals would be his subjects. His detail work was very skillful.

In the 20th century, when private ceramic shops were closed down over 30 years, folk art masters had to become collective farmers.

During the past 50 years Ukrainian ceramic work has developed in accordance with USSR and world ceramic ways. With the coming of high technology also came some unfortunate losses and changes, though there have also been new positive achievements with refractory, chemical and cosmic materials and processes.

There still are some centers where wood firing techniques have been preserved, such as in Kosov and Oposhniy. These are works by my students.

Some educational institutions have ceramics departments (including those in Lvov, Kiev, Kharkiv, Poltava, Mirgorod and Donezk) and some have ceramic studios for children where in-depth study can be made in pottery, sculpture, relief murals, and decorative painting of porcelain and faience.

Ukrainian exhibitions and workshops reflect a high artistic level of present day working artists who continue to apply the styles of some of the masters mentioned earlier.

Solovyova and Vinkivsky are notable animal sculpture ceramists who play with form influenced by modern design and "kitsch."

Many of today's working Ukrainian ceramists share a common influence from their educations in the Baltic, St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Some also share influences from their studies in higher education at Talinn and Riga.

Of major interest is the Budy Factory near Kharkiv, founded in 1887 by Kuznetsov who monopolized porcelain and faience fabrication in Russia for a time. Budy faience was mostly used for tableware, its decorative techniques including colored slips applied over smooth or relief carved surfaces and brush painting with colors and luster. The most popular, however, was "transfer ware," which was invented as a method in England to provide more decorative tableware to common households. It allowed for purchase of whole sets of beautiful earthenware at an affordable price. Of special note are the works by Chernova and Pianida which feature glaze painting and salt painting on cups, dishes and plates.

Creative ceramic works for use in public and private parks have been exhibited in Oposhnia and Slaviansk, and Raku ceramics have been created in Achtirka.

Here are some interesting contemporary and traditional ceramic works which have been made by my students of the Kharkiv Academy.

And I close this lecture with this work of my own which is a model for a future large work.

Thank you.

Vladimir Shapovalov's Technical Notes

First I made textures with cloth, canvas, leaves, stamps, and fishnet.

Then I drew my design with wooden tools, modeling the details. When the clay was nearly leather hard, I sprayed white slip to lighten areas of the design.

Then I added mason stains to my slip and sprayed more slip in greens and blues.

I then sponged with white slip to accentuate the high points of relief carving. I sprinkled some dry brown pigment onto the surface and spread it with my hands.

Finally I added water to brown pigment and brushed on fine lines to deepen relief carving. I cut my tiles with a large pizza cutter and a knife.

The colors I used were turquoise, sky blue, florentz, chromium oxide green, buttercup yellow with a touch of brown added, and brown and black pigment for lines.

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