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9 January, 2024

Picture by Yury Mechytov

Parajanov's connection to Ukraine was not only artistic but also personal. He was married to a Ukrainian and expressed a strong sense of national identity and solidarity with the Ukrainian people. However, his outspoken commitment to preserving and expressing cultural diversity, coupled with his refusal to conform to Soviet artistic norms, led to his persecution by Soviet authorities.
Here are three notable Sergei Parajanov quotes and three works that he created while facing imprisonment by Soviet authority.


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In 1951, he arrived in Kyiv and was assigned to a place near Victory Square, which is now known as Halytska Square.

"A huge new mall was built recently just opposite my apartment.
A victory Square. Of course, it was named Ukraine. One thought strikes me every time I look at it: this name and place, at the very centre of the capital of a great Soviet republic, a home of a thousand-years-old nation, must be saved for a museum with Ukrainian chronicles, pottery and woodcuts, icons and the best specimen of folk and fine art of the past, Ukrainian historical and cultural relics. There would be lecture halls and cinemas showcasing historical and art documentaries. People all across Ukraine would come here not to buy pants and tights, but to gain knowledge and taste
of history and human beauty. I assure you that the nation's culture will make a century-wide leap in just a decade."

Serhiy Parajanov 1969 (1970), from the letter to the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine Fedir Ovcharenko.

Gothic self-portrait, 1976

Prison work


Inventory of confiscated belongings, 1977

Prison work

"Ukraine is both my homeland and my second homeland. I crafted my initial masterpiece, 'Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,' there, achieved a significant milestone in my career, and witnessed the birth of my son. Ukraine provided me with everything, yet it also became the source of my downfall."


Poster for Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,1974–1977

Prison work

In 1988, Sergei Parajanov conducted his final interview, delivering it in the Ukrainian language. During the conversation, he discussed the Kyiv premiere of the film "Ashik-Kerib."
Towards the end of the interview, he expressed,


"Long live Ukraine! Long live Ukrainian nationalism, as I perceive it: we must ensure that a time never comes when there is no Ukrainian word or song, and when the Ukrainian sun and sunflower cease to exist."


Picture: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

By Alice Zhuravel

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