Finland's Largest Museum recognises Ilya Ripin as Ukrainian

Friday, February 2, 2024
Finland's Largest Museum recognises Ilya Ripin as Ukrainian

Finland's largest art museum, the Ateneum, has changed the nationality signature under the name of artist Ilya Ripin from Russian to Ukrainian, this is reported by the local media outlet Suomen Kuvalehti.

In 2021, the Finnish museum, in collaboration with the Tretyakov Gallery and the Museum of Russian Art, held a major exhibition of Ripin's works. It showed that the artist was born on the territory of modern Ukraine, but presented him as a Russian. Since then, Ukrainians have approached the museum with the intention of restoring historical justice.

Among those who have asked the museum to change Ripin's nationality is Anna Lodyhina, a Ukrainian journalist at Ukrainska Pravda.Kultura (Culture). While preparing an article about the artist, she asked for more information about his life in Finland. The curator sent her an article stating that Ripin's parents were Russians and were born in Moscow Oblast. In response, Lodyhina sent evidence that this was not true – church documents showed that the artist's father and grandfather were born in Ukraine.

"Exactly a year ago, I wrote my first letter to the largest Finnish art museum, the Ateneum, asking for an interview with the chief curator Timo Huusko for one of my projects. I was researching Ripin's life in Finland – little is known about this period in Ukraine," Lodyhina says.

She added that she knew about the scandalous exhibition that the museum held six months before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in which it presented Ripin as a Russian artist. 

"My request transformed into a conversation and correspondence, during which we discussed the artist's ethnicity with Timo. In one of his emails, he sent a link to his article, which indicated that Riepin's parents were Russians born in Moscow Oblast. I asked Olha Shevchenko, the deputy director of research at the Riepin Museum in Chuhuiv, to send copies of the artist's family's metric books as proof that his roots were Ukrainian, not Russian," she recounts.

Lodyhina believes that the information from the Chuhuiv museum was crucial for the Ateneum: "A little later, I found out that under Ripin's painting in the new exhibition, it was written that he was a Ukrainian artist."

The decision to change Riepin's nationality took the Finnish museum more than two years from the time of the first requests after the exhibition in 2021. At the time, Ukrainian-born Finnish musician Łukasz Stasewski stressed that the Ateneum exhibition lacked information about Ripin's extensive ties to Ukrainian culture.

"Ripin grew up in Ukraine, Ukrainian themes were an integral part of his work, but the organisers simply ignored this, presenting Ripin exclusively as a Russian artist," he said. He started writing to the museum, raised the issue in the media, but it didn't work.

Finally, the museum decided to call Ripin a Ukrainian when they were preparing the exhibition "Questions of Time", which included one of the artist's works, said Ateneum curator Timo Huusko. 

Main Image :Finnish National Gallery / Aleks Talve

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