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Natalka Husar

 

  • born in 1951 in New Jersey, United States
  • immigrated to Toronto, Ontario in 1973
  • parents immigrated to United States from Ukraine in 1949
  • B.F.A. Rutger's University (1973)

expanded images click on thumbnails at left to view larger images

Natalka Husar has consistently used her painting to express concerns related to her Ukrainian heritage. Having visited her parents' homeland, once in 1969 during the communist regime, and then in 1992 and 1993, after independence was declared, Husar has taken the issue of ethnicity and interwoven it with her own feminist concerns. As a Ukrainian-American woman, she grew up with an ideal of womanhood that was silent and compliant, even decorative, and this ideal was always in contrast with the self she saw as powerful and aggressive. In her work, Husar struggles with the conflict between these identities, between the place of her parents' birth and the place she now inhabits, between Ukraine and the North American Ukrainian community with its myths of Ukraine. Beginning with Faces-Facades in 1980, a series of masks hung in frames with clothing to create portraits of the Ukrainian people in Husar's life, the artist has made images of Ukrainians, as they adapt to American or Canadian life, that are at once painful and absurd. Gary Michael Dault commented in Border Crossings in 1995: "Natalka Husar is in the enviable terrifying position of being a realist who is also a female artist (though not paradigmatically) who is also the inheritor of a set of cultural assumptions . . . which have plummeted into freefall with the dismantling of communism and the end of ideology. . . . She is simultaneously possessor of a child's dancing wonder before the haughty beauties of art history (the tumbles of drapery, the gathering of silks and sheens and runic embroidering, the wantonness of spilled fruit, the aching nostalgia of lone vistas) and the curator of deep suspicions about the emptiness of beauty and the amoral lullabies of symbolism and ritual." This dichotomous feeling returns consistently in her work. In Behind the Irony Curtain (1985) Husar explores the Ukrainian immigrant experience through oversized and often unflattering portraits of Ukrainian-Canadian life. In her Milk and Blood series (1988) there is a slight shift in subject matter to images specifically related to the female immigrant’s experience, in which Husar also begins to use the contrast between elaborate detail and beautifully-worked surface, and difficult, hard-hitting subject matter. This was followed by Natalka Husar's True Confessions (1991), a series in which each painting contains a self-portrait of the artist, and Black Sea Blue (1995). In the latter series, the effect of returning to Ukraine with her mother, for the first time since 1969, is a preoccupation for Husar. Referring specifically to the painting Pandora's Parcel to Ukraine (1993), Husar writes: "Once I opened to that reality it was like some Pandora's Box--I couldn’t fit my feelings back neatly again. Though my mother's house seemed romantic, with big fat peaches against the blue-washed walls, it wasn't in the Theme-Park Ukraine of my Canadian mind" (1994). In complicated images that overlap the past and the present, the land of riches (America) and the land of poverty (Ukraine), Husar depicts her personal journey and her perception of the contrast between her mother's world and her own.

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1995-96 Black Sea Blue
Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia; Rosemont Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan; Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

 

1994 McIntosh Gallery, London, Ontario

 

1991-92 Natalka Husar's True Confessions
La Centrale-Powerhouse, Montréal, Québec; White Water Gallery, North Bay, Ontario; Woltjen/Udell Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia; Woltjen/Udell Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Plug-In Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

1988-89 Milk and Blood
Women in Focus, Vancouver, British Columbia; Ukrainian Cultural Educational Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Laurentian Museum and Arts Centre, Sudbury, Ontario; Latitude 53 Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; Station Gallery, Whitby, Ontario; Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario

 

1986 Behind the Irony Curtain
Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

1980 Faces-Façades
Nancy Poole's Studio, Toronto, Ontario; Citadel Theatre, Rice Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1997 Here's Looking At Me Kid
Art Gallery of North York, North York, Ontario

Absolut L.A. International Biennial Art Invitational
Sherry Frumkin Gallery, Santa Monica, California

 

1995 Tangled Roots
Bowling Green State University Art Gallery, Ohio

 

1994 Searching for My Mother's Garden
Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario

 

1993 The Urban and the Urbane
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City, Mexico

 

1992 Our of the Drawer
A Space, Toronto, Ontario

 

1991 Art and Ethnicity
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Québec

 

1990 Dangerous Goods
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta

The Wedding: A Ceremony
Art Gallery of York University, North York, Ontario

Memory and Subjectivity
Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario; Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario; Laurentian Museum and Arts Centre, Sudbury, Ontario

 

1989 No Place Like Home
SAW Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

Home Work
Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario

 

1988 Contemporary Canadian Figure
McIntosh Gallery, London, Ontario

 


COLLECTIONS

Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Québec
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario
The Toronto Sun, Toronto, Ontario

 


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Art and Ethnicity. Hull, Québec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1991.

Artists with Their Work. Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1983.

Boily, Lise. "Ethnicity and communication." Culture 9, no. 1-2 (1991): 165-66.

Bourgeois, Gail. "No Place Like Home-Galerie SAW." C Magazine (Fall 1989): 75-6.

Contemporary Canadian Figure. London, Ontario: McIntosh Gallery, 1988.

Dault, Gary Michael. "Oceana: Natalka Husar's Black Sea Blue." Border Crossings 14, no. 3 (Summer 1995): 60-67.

Edmonton Art Gallery. Dangerous Goods. Edmonton, Alberta: Edmonton Art Gallery, 1990.

Elliot, Bridget, and Janice Williamson. Dangerous Goods: Feminist Visual Art Practices. Edmonton, Alberta: Edmonton Art Gallery, 1990.

Enright, Robert. "Introduction. Desperately seeking Ukrainian: The recent painting of Natalka Husar." In Behind the Irony Curtain. Toronto, Ontario: Garnet Press Gallery, 1986.

---. "Desperately seeking Ukrainian: The recent painting of Natalka Husar." Border Crossings 5, no. 3 (May 1986): 29-30.

---. "Husar, Natalka. True Confessions. Plug-In Inc. Winnipeg." Border Crossings 11, no.1 (January 1992): 47.

---, and Donna Lypchuk. Natalka Husar's True Confessions. Vancouver, British Columbia: Woltjen/Udell Gallery, 1991.

Hamm, Eleanor. "Confessions of Natalka Husar." AF Magazine (November 1991): 5.

Hanna, Deirdre. "Husar's critical reality." NOW (2 March 1989): 63.

---. "Husar's painterly layers reveal personal truths." NOW (9 January 1992): 47.

---. "Natalka Husar, Behind the Irony Curtain, Garnet Press." NOW (23 January 1986): 25.

---. "Natalka Husar mourns Ukraine's cultural poverty." NOW (9 March 1995): 62.

Holubizky, Ihor. "Black Seen Blue." In Black Sea Blue, 35-53. Regina, Saskatchewan: Rosemont Art Gallery Society, 1995.

---. "Introduction. Exhibiting Doubts." In Behind the Irony Curtain. Toronto: Garnet Press Gallery, 1986.

---. "A Pre-emptive Strike." In Black Sea Blue, 33-34. Regina, Saskatchewan: Rosemont Art Gallery Society, 1995.

Hornstein-Rabinovitch, Shelley. The Wedding, A Ceremony: Or Thoughts About an Indecisive Reunion Revisited. Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery of York University, 1990.

Husar, Natalka. "The relevance of ethnicity: A personal perspective." In Manoly Lupul, ed. Visible Symbols, p. 36-7. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Downsview, 1984.

---. "Natalka Husar." Gallerie Annual (June 1988): 69-71.

Jennings, Leslie. "True Confessions of Natalka Husar." Images 8, no. 6 (November/December 1991): 78.

Lypchuk, Donna. "Anger and hyperbole." Metropolis (16 March 1989): 27.

---. "Garnet Press 1984-1996." Matriart 7, no. 3 (1998): 12-19.

---. "Natalka Husar, Garnet Press." Vanguard 15, no. 2 (April/May 1986): 48.

---. "Portrait of the artist as an angry young woman." Eye (3 December 1992): 12.

Murray, Joan. "Building power: Canadian woman's art." Artpost 9, no. 3 (Summer 1992): 12-17.

"Omen dressed in Ukrainian costumes acrylic by Natalka Husar." Prairie Fire 13, no. 3 (1992): 169.

Podedworny, Carol. "Real life romance." In Black Sea Blue, 12-23. Regina, Saskatchewan: Rosemont Art Gallery Society, 1995.

"Refuse to die." Parallélogramme 17, no. 1 (1991): 48.

Reid, Stuart, et al. Searching for My Mother's Garden. Mississauga, Ontario: Art Gallery of Mississauga, 1994.

Shaw, Catherine Elliot. The Canadian Contemporary Figure. London, Ontario: McIntosh Gallery, 1988.

Tangled Roots. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University, 1994.

Thomson, Grace Eiko. Milk and Blood. Toronto, Ontario: Garnet Press; Vancouver, British Columbia: Women in Focus, 1988.

Walsh, Meeka. "Gentle savagery: The felicities of biting the hand that feeds you." Border Crossings 8, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 11-16.

Webb, Marshall. "Natalka Husar: Behind the Irony Curtain. Garnet Press Gallery." Canadian Art 3, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 92.

Yeo, Marian. "Milk and Blood." Vanguard 18, no. 2 (April/May 1989): 42.

 

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