Kashshai, Anton (b. February 24, 1921, Dubrynychi [Czechoslovakia], Ukraine; d. January 1, 1991, Uzhhorod [Soviet Ukraine], Ukraine) — painter in Subcarpathian Rus’. Although Kashshai studied the basics of painting and drawing with Iosyp *Bokshai during his years at the gymnasium in Uzhhorod, he never had professional training and did not begin to paint seriously until later in life. His first works were exhibited in 1947 with those of other painters from what had recently become Soviet-ruled Transcarpathia (Subcarpathian Rus’). Kashshai was best known for his monumental landscape scenes, the first of which to bring him fame was Zyma v Karpatakh (Winter in the Carpathians, 1952). A series of other large landscapes followed, including Dolyna richky Uzh (The Uzh River Valley, 1952), Berezen’ (March, 1953), Pereval (The Mountain Pass, 1954), Na hirs’kykh pasovysakh (In the Mountain Pastures, 1954), and Verets’kyi pereval (The Verets’kyi Pass, 1957). All of these works were painted in a traditional realistic style, with few traces of the impressionist influences that had characterized the work of earlier artists of the Subcarpathian School of Painting.
With the cultural thaw that marked Soviet life in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Kashshai was no longer obliged to follow strictly the guidelines of Socialist Realism. After reassessing his work he began to alter his style and use of color; this change in direction was already visible in the painting, Chorna Tysa (The Chorna Tysa River, 1958). The impact of his first trips abroad (Italy in 1964 and Norway in 1965) led to a new stage in his creativity, epitomized by the painting Velykany (Giants, 1969). During the last decades of his life Kashshai experimented with a wide range of styles. Although these efforts were not always successful, he retained an important place in the history of Carpathian landscape painting. For his work Kashshai was awarded several honors, including Artist of Merit (1960) and National Artist (1964) of the Soviet Ukraine.
Bibliography: Hryhorii S. Ostrovs’kyi, Anton Kashshai (Kiev, 1969).
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.