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Item Name: Mixed Media
Title: Pope
Maker: Dmytro Stryjek
Year: 1980
Country: Canadian
Materials: mixed media on paper
Measurements: in frame: 44.7 cm x 38 cm
ID Number: PC84.3
Legal Status: PERMANENT COLLECTION


Extended Label Info: As an immigrant to Canada, Stryjek lived between two cultures and two languages. His subject matter is filled with repsect for both the Old World, in paintings of Ukrainian poets, icons, churches, and the New World, with images of pop stars, politicians, and prairie scenery. On the reverse side of many of his paintings, Stryjek wrote inscriptions in both English and Ukrainian, mixing Latin and Cyrillic script, and signed many works with, “змалювава Дмитро Страєк” (zmalûvava Dmytro Stryjek), which has been translated as “a copy by Dmytro Stryjek”. In this way, Stryjek acknowledges his source material, images from books, postcards, album covers, posters and magazines. Copying was an integral part of his artistic practice, which is similar to work by Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox icon painters. In this portrait from 1980, Stryjek paints Pope John Paul II the immensely popular, though quite conservative, leader of the Catholic Church (1978-2005). A self-taught painter, Stryjek is one of many folk artists celebrated in Saskatchewan. Dmytro Stryjek (1899 – 1991) Stryjek was born in Lanivtski, a village in western Ukraine in 1899, where he received limited schooling. Conscripted at 18 into the Austro-Hungarian Army, Stryjek joined Ukrainian nationalist forces just before the end of WWI. There he trained in producing identification sketches from memory. In 1920 he immigrated to Canada, settle in Hafford, Saskatchewan. Stryjek began working for the Canadian National Railway in 1929. Throughout his life, he continued to draw, making small ink and pencil portraits, and in the late 1950s, he began to paint. After retirement in 1967, the Stryjeks moved to Saskatoon. With encouragement from Peter Millard, a local professor, scholar, and collector, Stryjek developed his paintings, often using bright enamel paints and nail polish. His work was first exhibited in 1975 as part of “Saskatchewan Primitives” at Mendel Art Gallery (now Remai Modern), and in 1988, Thunder Bay Art Gallery organized a retrospective, “Dmytro Stryjek: Trying the Colours”. In 1999, MacKenzie Art Gallery acquired 378 works by purchase and donation from Peter Millard’s personal collection of Stryjek’s work, and in the context of new scholarship, exhibited as “Dmytro Stryjek: Found in Translation” in 2017.