Maria Avksentievna Primachenko [in Ukrainian, Марія Оксентіївна Примаченко] (1909-1997) is a self-taught artist, who found her inspiration in Ukrainian folklore. She mainly used gouache, but also watercolor and embroidery; she also painted ceramics specially made for her by the ceramist Yakim Guerassimenko. Initially, she joined a local association of embroiderers, and was invited, in the 1930s, to join an experimental workshop at the Ukrainian Art Museum in Kyiv. She took part in folk art exhibitions, first in the USSR and later abroad. She received international recognition in her lifetime: Picasso hailed her work as an “artistic miracle”. In 1966, she was awarded the Shevchenko Prize, the highest Ukrainian distinction for cultural achievements; in 2009, UNESCO celebrated the centenary of her birth.
Her work has great variety: she created a fabulous bestiary and painted country landscapes and scenes of peasant life. She used at first a white background but progressively adopted more and more vivid colors. In the last decades, she added titles to the backs of her work, some of which bear witness to her pacifist convictions. Her paintings figure in a number of public and private collections around the world. More than twenty could be destroyed, on 27 February 2022, when the Invankiv local history Museum, near Kyiv, burned, following a Russian bombing.