About the Artist/Site
Luts’k, a city located in northwestern Ukraine along the river Styr, has a documented history of more than 900 years and, consequently, a number of historic buildings that attract visitors from afar. Among these are a castle dating from the 13th century, a Catholic Cathedral, a Great Synagogue built in the 17th century, and many more. But it also has a recently built house that attracts interested spectators because of its unusual and artistic appearance, elaborately decorated as it is with numerous sculptures: it is popularly known as the House with Chimeras.
The creator of this house, Mykola Holovan, was born in 1943 in Teremne. At the age of three, in 1946, he moved with his parents, a carpenter and a seamstress, to Luts’k, where he still lives. Since at a young age he already showed artistic qualities, his parents encouraged him to go to art school; although his mother died in 1958 and did not live to see him fulfill this dream, in 1960 young Holovan was indeed admitted to the art academy in Lviv, some 150 km southeast of Luts’k.
After having finished his studies in 1965, Holovan resettled in Luts’k, where he built a studio in the yard of his father's house. He married in 1971 and in that same year he had his first exposition. As a sculptor he was in particular active in the Volyn region where Luts’k is located, making sculptures and monuments that usually were intended for public spaces.
When in the late 1970s Holovan wanted to build a family home and studio, the city allocated a piece of land to him in a part of the old town that bordered the river Styr. Assisted with construction and architectural advice by the architect Rostislav G. Metelnytskyy, Holovan single-handedly constructed a three-story house with balconies and balustrades, a large round staircase at the entrance, and a large walled garden in front and back.
He then began to decorate the house with a variety of sculptures. The balustrade on the upper level of the house’s front side, facing the river, has a large row of somewhat classical sculptures standing on pedestals. The floor of the upper balcony is fully decorated with mosaic consisting of flat plates in various colors and sizes. The exterior façade of the long wall in front, separating the house and yard from the neighborhood, also has been ornamented with sculptures on pedestals, as well as with reliefs, a lot of mosaic, medallions of all sizes, and various sculptural elements.
Windows and doors are enhanced with sculpted friezes, and the interior of the house has also been abundantly decorated with sculptures and high reliefs. Some walls of the house are built with bricks similar to those used in most other buildings around town, but others consist of stones in all shapes and colors, interspersed with rectangular decorated panels, masks, and bricked faces of people, all more or less haphazardly put together.
Scattered all over the property around the house are hundreds of both small and large sculptures and reliefs. There are also a large number of stone objects, such as jars, pots, pedestals, bowls, skids, and small figurines, all waiting to be processed and installed.
Although the house is popularly known as the House of Chimeras, the artist himself does not like that description, as it references the House with Chimeras in Kiev built 1901-03 by architect Vladislav Gorodezhkii.
In August 2016 the city of Luts’k honored Holovan as an honorary citizen of the city in a public ceremony.
The exterior of the house, with its numerous sculptures can be seen from the street, but the walled yards and the home’s interior are not open for visitation by the public.
- Henk van Es
Map & Site Information
Lutsk, Volyns'ka oblast ua
Latitude/Longitude: 50.747233 / 25.325383
Lutsk, Volyns'ka oblast, Ukraine
The house is located at Liuteranska Street 9, Luts’k, Volyn region, Ukraine. The exterior of the house, with its numerous sculptures can be seen from the street, but the walled yards and the home’s interior are not open for visitation by the public.
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