Kateryna Bilokur

Kateryna Bilokur
Born December 7, 1900
Bohdanivka, Poltava Governorate, Russian Empire
Died June 10, 1961
Yahotyn, Kiev Oblast, Ukrainian SSR
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The story of artist Kateryna Bilokur is an amazing one. If circumstances were different, she might be revered as one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. But because she was born to poverty in a remote and obscure village in the Ukraine, relatively few people knew of Bilokur’s work in her lifetime. Despite this, she was eventually recognized as one of the greatest artists ever to emerge from the Ukraine.

Obscure Beginnings

Kateryna Vasylivna Bilokur was born in 1900 in Bogdanivka, an out-of-the-way village in the vast Ukraine. She received no formal education and her daily life was one of dreary, hard physical labor and household chores. But her desire to paint was extreme. So eager was she to pursue her art that she fashioned her own paintbrushes and formulated her own paints from beet juice, berries, onions, viburnum, herbs and whatever she could find. She was often at labor all day and painted during the night until she could no longer stay awake.

Vibrant Scenes of Flowers and Fruits

The majority of her creations feature extremely vivid, vibrant and colorful floral scenes displaying lush collections of flowers and fruits in natural settings. She tried to gain entrance to art school in the 1920, but since she had no proof or certificate of having completed “seven-year-school,” so she had no chance. She also had little opportunity to see and study the work of other artists.

By sheer force of unstoppable will and desire, Bilokur painted her heart out and eventually began to produce a body of work that others could not help but notice. By the 1930s, she was be said to have become a master. Her work caught the eye of a famous Ukrainian singer, Oksana Petrusenko, who helped get her art placed in shows and galleries where it could gain wider appreciation from the art community.

World Recognition

Some of her works eventually found their way to Europe, where it is said that none other than Pablo Picasso not only viewed her work, but became entranced, staring at her paintings for hours, as if in a reverie. Picasso suggested that if her works were widely known, Bilokur would be the talk of the world.

In 1956 Katerina Bilokur was named the “People’s Artist of Ukraine,” an incredibly high honor. He image was also issued on a Ukrainian coin. She died in 1961. It is likely her magnificent work will live on for centuries to come and be considered among the most sublime masterpieces of the world.