More than a decade ago the Russian-born Ukrainophile artist Ruslan Agirba explained in an interview that ‘The most interesting and noteworthy events take place, and will always take place, in the name of love.’ Sadly the events of that last decade have stretched his optimism to the limit, but have detracted nothing from the power of his creative imagination. The main theme of Agirba’s work remains the embodiment of love, particularly of female beauty, using a variety of myths and stories as settings for his richly decorated etchings.

He started drawing at the age of four, encouraged by his mother, a clothes designer. Ruslan was expected to become an engineer, but instead chose art, graduating from the Art School in Batumi, and then entering the Academy of Arts in Tbilisi.

In 1980 Ruslan travelled to visit friends in Kiev, and has remained based there ever since. For several years he worked at a bakery plant as a graphic designer, where he received his first serious experience as an artist and his first commissions for book design and illustration. In 1990 he graduated from the Kiev Printing Institute’s Faculty of Graphic Design and Book Illustration and, thanks to his teacher Alexander Miklovda, Agirba was encouraged to study engraving, which later developed into an interest in etching. The final choice in favour of etching was made after visiting a number of international exhibitions in Europe and meeting leading masters of the art including Arkady Pugachevsky, Sergei Ivanov, Peter Kocak, Peter Augustovic and Lembit Lôhmus.

In 1982 Ruslan Agirba married Ukrainian Anna Portnova, with whom he has a son, Roman. Anna’s family played a huge role in the development of the artist’s work, including providing him with a dedicated studio.

Agirba has now produced more than three hundred bookplates and small graphic works, and has participated in more than 150 international exhibitions.

Ruslan Agirba’s Facebook page, where he regularly shows new work, is here.

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


Example illustration