Heorhiy Kosovan

ID: 278

A Ukrainian gallerist, curator, and art collector. Lives and works in Lviv.

Heorhiy was born on December, 6, 1961 in Lviv. He studied the disciplines unrelated to art but he participated in the Komsomol unions and committees. The exhibition activities of Lviv artists in Soviet times were rather complicated and bureaucratic. There were few official exhibition rooms. Besides, the intense control from the Union of Artists aggravated, and even disabled certain artists from exhibiting. Kosovan recalls:

"There were few official exhibition rooms available at the time, and young artists found it difficult to get through. The times had it that artists grabbed every opportunity to get a studio, which required presenting several reference certificates confirming their participation in exhibitions. I remember there was an exhibition organized under the auspices of the Union of Artists, about firefighters. So, the artist added the insignia to portraits, or included fire engines to their landscapes, so that their works could be accepted" ("Apolitical Space", МІТЄЦ, 2016).

It was only after the start of political perestroika initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 that in 1987, Lviv officials allowed exhibitions without excessive censorship. Thus, various informal spaces started appearing very fast. There, they created, shared, more rarely sold, contemporary art (Vysheslavskyi, 2008, 289). In 1988, Heorhiy Kosovan, a post-graduate student at the Institute of Veterinary Medicine at the time, decided to open an art gallery in the city. He was actively making use of his contacts in the Komsomol committee, and managed to convince the officials to transfer for the art purposes some rooms on Franka street. This is how Kosovan opened the first private permanent art gallery in Lviv. The name was "Three Dots"as the curator could not officially register the organizations' name. He recalled himself that the gallery was opened in October, 1988, even though there were no official documents produced yet.




 The gallery was located in the semi-basement apartment in the building at vul. Franka, 46. It became the center for underground art that could express the intents of the entire generation of artists. It hosted the first solo exhibitions of Volodymyr Bohuslavskyi, Ihor Yanovych, Volodymyr Surmach, Borys Chernykh, Halyna Zhyhulska, Oleh Denysenko, Oleh Derhachov, Oleh Kapustiak, Olena Turianska (Domashchuk, 2017, 298). Thus, Kosovan was at the onset of gallery culture in Lviv where contemporary artists "promoted" and held their virgin exhibitions. Kosovan's gallery was not a typical commercial place, as it would be typical  in the West, it rather played a role of a center of contemporary art.

Kosovan curated some of the milestone exhibitions in Lviv. It is the Defloration held in the then Lenin Museum (today, Andrey Sheptytskyi National Museum) in 1990. It is also the "Exhibition for the Ukrainian Doctors Congress" held in the Lviv Medical Institute. They are usually described as eccentric and provocative. For example, a key manifesto of the Defloration was to focus on symbolic Soviet virginity (Shumylovych, "Lviv Media Art: a Brief Excursus"). In 1990, the gallery was officially registered and renamed into Gal-Art. It operated in this status until 1996.

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Vul. Pekarska, 50 – Veterinary Medicine Academy Main building

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Prosp. Svobody, 20 – Lviv National Museum building

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1. Hlib Vysheslavskyi, "Self-organization of Artistic Life in Lviv in the late 1980s – early 1990s", Mystetstvoznavstvo Ukrainy, 2008, No. 9, pp. 289-293 (Гліб Вишеславський, "Самоорганізація художнього життя у Львові кінця 1980-х – початку 1990-х рр.", Мистецтвознавство України, 2008, Вип. 9, с. 289-293)

2. Khrystyna Domashchuk, "Activities of Lviv Art Galleries in the late 1980s – early 1990s", Kultura Ukrainy, 2017, No. 55, pp. 296-304 (Христина Домащук, "Діяльність мистецьких галерей Львова кінця 80-х – початку 90-х років ХХ ст.", Культура України, 2017, №55, с. 296–304)

3. Bohdan Shumylovych, "Lviv Media Art: Brief Excursus", Open Archive of Ukrainian Media Art (Богдан Шумилович, "Львівське медіа-мистецтво: короткий екскурс", Відкритий архів українського медіа-арту)

By Anastasiia Marusiy
Edited by Bohdan Shumylovych and Olha Zarechnyuk

Created with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation