Mykola Matsenko is an Ukrainian visual artist, whose artistic oeuvre is strongly based on the national heritage and culture of his homeland.
Born in Prutivka, Ivano-Frankivsk region in 1960, Matsenko studied at Shevchenko Secondary School of Arts in Kyiv, from 1974 until 1979, and graduated from Lviv National Academy of Arts in 1984. He is a member of the Natsprom project, with his fellow artist Oleg Tistol.
In the early 90s, when the dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv had still been engaged, Mykola Matsenko had approached the complexity of identification as a national construct in his work, referring to the medium of painting or silkscreen to portraying ‘visual signifiers’ indicative of cultural values as apparent in architectural facades. In this period, artists who found themselves in Ukraine, such as Matsenko and Tistol, had to adjust to a far more conservative environment for their work and felt the increasing desire to be respected artists within their own country and consequently, they began to focus on the issues of Ukrainian national identification to gain the support and opportunities available through the Ministry. Eventually, Matsenko’s projects began to shift from the more universal language of architecture to the specifics of the ornament within the rhetoric of national folklore.
In his most significant solo exhibition held in 2014, titled NeoFolk, Matsenko represents Ukrainian tradition, folklore and history by means of abstraction. It shows the most abstract conceptual pieces made by Matsenko, where there is not only the research of pattern, but also a research of the idea of repetition and the idea of color and national tradition. Talking about the project, the artist states that ‘this is the only project in my life where the line is coming not from my mind, but from my heart. This is a reflection about a carpet from my childhood. On one hand I made a color exercise out of it, on the other it is a very spiritual, emotional and really the only irrational thing in my artistic activity.’
Mykola Matsenko has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and at the PinchukArtCentre. Several works by the artist have been sold at auction, such as Love to a coffin sold at Phillips London Contemporary Art Day Sale in 2013 for $20,205.
Matsenko lives and works between Kyiv and Cherkassy.