The Ukrainian artist Konstantin Antyukhin grew up in Kyiv. He graduated in 1984 from the Taras Shevchenko State Art School (Державна художня середня школа ім. Тараса Шевченка), then studied for a year in the private studio of fellow Ukrainian artist Olaksandr Agafonov. From 1987 to 1990 he worked as an artist and restorer of monumental paintings, including the creation of new murals and icons in the Monastery and Church of the Holy Dormition in Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.

In 1990 he started to concentrate on etching, finding it matched his varied, complex and somewhat dark imagination, and in 1994 this led him into the specialised world of bookplate commissions, since when his reputation has spread far and wide, with his works being exhibited in Belgium, Holland, Germany, China, Japan, Italy and the USA, as well as regularly in Ukraine. His first solo exhibition was in 2002 in Antwerp at the Epreuve d’Artiste Grafiekgalerie, and subsequent solo shows have been held at the Xotaris Art Forum in Crete and at the Largo Gallery in Varna, Bulgaria.

Many of Konstantin Antyukhin’s detailed engravings are the result of commissions for bookplates, or ex libris – a Latin phrase meaning ‘from the library of’. The first known bookplates ex libris are woodcuts from the fifteenth century, displaying the owner’s name and coat of arms. Through the centuries ex libris designers came up with ever more artful and imaginative designs for their clients’ libraries, inspiring a mania for collecting bookplates which lasted from the final quarter of the nineteenth century until the 1930s. From the 1970s ex libris were once again in demand, eagerly sought by specialised collectors, and today there are websites, fairs and exhibitions dedicated to the artform. Many plates are now produced as signed and numbered small format fine art prints, known as ‘free’ ex libris, never intended to be glued inside books but instead to be framed and displayed in the library of the client fortunate enough to be able to afford to commission it. Many of Antyukhin’s bookplates keep their function rather well-hidden, using the contraction ‘EL’ or ‘EXL’, and the name of their beneficiary very small.

Konstantin Antyukhin’s Facebook page, where he often shows his latest work, can be found here.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist, and for supplying many of the images.


Example illustration