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Meet Nikifor Krynicki: A Local Lemko Artist from the Past

Meet Nikifor Krynicki: A Local Lemko Artist from the Past

Nikifor Krynicki is an artist who was born on  21 May, 1895 in the town of Krynytsya. Belonging to Lemko (a variation of Ruthenian) heritage, Nikifor is considered a “naïve” painter – someone who paints with natural talent and ability, albeit without formal training. Poverty forced him to use whatever materials were available and his style is considered arguably undeveloped. His paintings generally depict life in his hometown (often including a Greek Catholic Church) using creative perspectives. His works were discovered by fellow artist Roman Turyn and were exhibited in Paris, receiving enthusiastic reception. 

While the artist signed his work with the name Nikifor, it appears that his baptismal name was Epifaniy Drovnyak, as spelled in Cyrillic. However, the artist, Nikifor was eccentric and illiterate. When Polish communist authorities issued him a passport in the 1960s, they used his signing name “Nikifor” and gave him the surname Krynicki – which essentially means from his town – Krynytsya. He sought to secure this passport after the larger Lemko community had been forcibly removed from their land in 1947 and relocated to the opposite side of Poland. After two failed attempts to return, Nikifor succeeded in returning to Krynytsya.

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