Half a year before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, Ateneum held an exhibition jointly with the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum. Repin was labeled as a Russian in it. This made a scandal among the Ukrainian community, which had been calling on the museum to change the artist's nationality since then.
One of the most active in this process was journalist Anna Lodygina, who conducted an exhaustive investigation
into the Ukrainian origin of the artist. In 2023, she wrote a letter to the Finnish exhibition curator Timo Huusko. He referred to a document indicating that Repin's parents were born in the Moscow region. However, Lodygina was able to prove that they were born in Ukraine.
"I contacted Olga Shevchenko, deputy director for research at the Repin Museum in Chuhuiv, to send copies from Metric books of the artist’s family, as proof that his roots are Ukrainian, not Russian,
" Anna Lodygina told Kyiv Post.
The decision of the Finnish museum, which took two years, is part of the trend of reclaiming Ukraine's heritage, which was previously considered Russian. In February 2023, the Metropolitan Museum in New York reclassified
Ilya Repin and Ivan Aivazovsky as Ukrainian instead of Russian artists. Following suit, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, known for its vast collection of abstract artists like Kazymyr Malevych, adjusted
Malevych's nationality a month later.
To read more articles about contemporary art please support Artslooker on Patreon