Leonid Denysenko

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Leonid Denysenko
A portrait photograph of Leonid Denysenko at his home.
Born Леонід Дмитрович Денисенко
(1926-07-25) 25 July 1926 (age 90)
Warsaw, Poland
Nationality Ukrainian Australian
Known for graphic arts, drawing, cartoons, literography
Notable work God is Love (literography), International Monument to New Settlers (Fairfield, NSW)

Leonid Denysenko is a Ukrainian Australian artist living in Sydney, Australia. He is notable for the introduction of the graphic art technique of "literography".[1] He is the only surviving founding member of the Ukrainian Artists Society of Australia.

Biography and career[edit]

Born in Warsaw in 1926 of Ukrainian émigré parents, Leonid studied art in Poland. After World War II he worked as an artist with the United States armed forces in Germany.

After arriving in Australia in 1949 with his family, he was sent to a migrant reception and training camp at Bathurst, NSW. As part of the 'assisted passage' Leonid and his brother, Yurij were under a contract to the Australian Government to work where the Government sent them, and the two young men learnt they were to be sent to Queensland as sugar cane cutters.[2] As related by Leonid himself in a 2-page article in the Australian Women's Weekly:

"I was distraught. I didn't want to be split up from my parents. Luckily the camp held an arts and crafts exhibition soon after we arrived and I exhibited some of the sketches I had made in Germany and in Italy on my way here.

"Then I sketched cartoons of the hierarchy of the camp and of the then General (later Field-Marshal) Sir Thomas Blamey who opened the exhibition. He was very pleased with the drawing and I was bold enough to say I didn't want to be a cane cutter. His reply was that my hands were too good. So I became staff records officer of the camp, which gave me plenty of time to sketch. "[2]

In time, the Denysenkos left the camp and Leonid with his mother and brother Yurij, helped stage a number of Ukrainian arts and craft shows in Australia.[3] By 1950 Leonid Denysenko was already being featured in Australian media as a "migrant artist from Ukraine",[4] and "a young Ukrainian whose pen-and- ink work is much above the ordinary".[5]

Leonid completed the necessary examinations which allowed him to teach art in secondary and high schools and his varied career saw him work as a stage and set designer for the theatre and films, a cartoonist and illustrator of books and periodicals, a stamp designer, a leading dancer in a ballet company, an art teacher and principal and a freelance journalist.[6][7][8]

He holds a Degree in Graphic Art, a Certificate in Education and a Diploma in Fine Arts.

Commonwealth Jubilee Exhibition of New Australian Arts and Crafts[edit]

In 1951 Leonid Denysenko was chosen to be in charge of the New Australian Arts and Crafts Exhibition, which was part of the celebrations for the Jubilee of Australia's Federation.[9] Denysenko's pen-and-ink sketches of Australian towns visited during the exhibition's tour were also part of the show.[10][11] This touring exhibition visited capital cities and towns in all the states of Australia, including Queensland[9] and Tasmania.[11]


Leonid Denysenko pioneered a new graphic art technique called "literography", which uses letters from words to form detailed pictures. His most famous work is the icon "God is Love", which features an image of Jesus Christ using letters of the word Love written in 79 different languages.[1]

In December 1955, the Australian Department of Immigration announced a public competition to obtain designs for a suitable stamp about migration.[12] Designs also were sought from a further 10 artists and designers including from Leonid Denysenko. About 300 entries were received.

Despite the great response to the competition and much discussion, a stamp on the theme of migration was never issued. Instead, the Department of Immigration used many of the entries in its touring immigration and citizenship promotional displays.[12] In 1989 the two entries by Denysenko were featured in an exhibition of these "forgotten works" at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.[13][14]

Together with his brother Jurij, an architect, Leonid won a competition for the design of the International Monument in Fairfield in Western Sydney, that celebrates migration and the multi-ethnic community in that local government area.[15][16]

Denysenko's designed the mosaics adorning the church at the Ukrainian Orthodox Centre in Canberra.[17]


Leonid Denysenko has exhibited in group exhibitions of the Ukrainian Artists Society of Australia in both Australia, and Ukraine, and his work "God is Love" has featured in many exhibitions throughout Australia.

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1973 – International Eucharistic Congress – Arts Festival, Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 15–25 February 1973[18]
  • 2001 — "Devotion: the Religious, the Domestic and the Pacific", Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 12 September – 18 October 2001[19]
  • 2010 — "Text as Spiritual Imagery" Exhibition, McGlade Gallery, Strathfield, September – October 2010[20]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Babie, Paul. 'God Is Love': The Literography of Leonid Denysenko. The Australasian Catholic Record, Vol. 86, No. 1, Jan 2009: 18–24. ISSN 0727-3215
  2. ^ a b "He spells out a message of love to the world.". The Australian Women's Weekly. 21 February 1973. p. 30. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "ARTS, CRAFTS PRAISED.". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 24 October 1951. p. 9. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, G. 'New Australians enjoyed their Convention', The Australian Women's Weekly Saturday 11 February 1950, p.28
  5. ^ "REMARKABLE ARTS EXHIBITION.". Townsville Daily Bulletin. 28 January 1950. p. 5. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  6. ^ IPREZ (2001), Художники України ("Artists of Ukraine"), Edition 2, «ІПРЕЗ», Kyiv, 2001. ISBN 966-95504-0-8 (Ukrainian)
  7. ^ Vilna Dumka & Ukrainian Heritage Society (2001) («Вільна Думка» і Товариство Збереження Української Спадщини в Австралії), Українці Австралії — Енциклопедичний Довідник ("Ukrainians in Australia: an Encyclopedic Guide"), Sydney. ISBN 978-0-908168-11-8 (National Library of Australia ID 34684777) (Ukrainian)
  8. ^ Markus, V. (ed.) (1995) Encyclopedia of Ukrainian Diaspora Vol. 4. Australia – Asia – Africa, (Енциклопедія Української Діяспори. Том 4 Австралія — Азія — Африка), Shevchenko Scientific Society and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (гол ред.: Маркусь Василь, Наукове Товариство ім. Шевченка і Національна академія наук України. Вид. «ІНТЕЛ»), Kyiv – New York – Chicago – Melbourne. ISBN 5-7702-1069-9 (Ukrainian)
  9. ^ a b "New Australians show handcrafts.". The Courier-Mail. 13 March 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "Margot's jottings.". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 25 October 1951. p. 12. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Exhibition Opened.". The Examiner. Launceston, Tasmania. 16 October 1951. p. 3. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Holt's dream Australian" — describing an exhibition of some of the entries for the design competition "The Millionth Migrant" at the Victorian Immigration Museum, held in January 1989. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  13. ^ Flynn, Chris (9 September 1998), "Stamp of Quality", Blacktown Advocate, p. 1 
  14. ^ The collection of stamp entries, including Leonid Denysenko's are described in the catalog by Gertsakis, E. and Australia Post (1998) The millionth migrant : picture of a citizen, pictures of a nation Australia Post, Melbourne ISBN 0-642-36813-9 (National Library of Australia ID 8156595)
  15. ^ 'Brothers Win Design', "The Biz", Thursday, 21 March 1968. Fairfield City local newspaper, copies held in Fairfield City library
  16. ^ Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (1982) Sydney's Greater West, Robert Brown & Associates Pty Ltd, Bathurst NSW ISBN 0-909197-18-0
  17. ^ 'Український Православний Центр Пам'ятник 1000-ліття Хрещення України в Канберрі, Столична Територія' (Ukrainian Orthodox Centre – Monument to 1000 years of Christianity in Ukraine in Canberra) (Ukrainian)
  18. ^ International Eucharistic Congress (40th: 1973 : Melbourne, Vic.)
  19. ^ Rosenthal, K (copy of archived webpage). "Devotion or Deception?". Artwrite, UNSW. Archived from the original on 2001-07-04. Retrieved 5 May 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  20. ^ "'Text as Spiritual Imagery' Exhibition, McGlade Gallery, Strathfield, September–Oct. 2010". Retrieved 9 March 2011. 

External links[edit]