In Miami, a Ukrainian Art Show Becomes Unintentionally Timely

by AryanArtnews
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Wife and husband gallerists Julia and Max Vorosin returned to Kyiv last week, where they planned to hold a new show in their space. However, due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, commercial air traffic was suspended, and the stay in Miami and the pop-up exhibition there were extended.

The show, entitled “Memory of Her Face,” features socially responsible works by five Ukrainian artists. After arriving in Miami in November and exhibiting booths at two satellite art fairs (NADA and Untitled Art) at the same time as Art Basel Miami Beach, Voloshyns signed with Covid to postpone his return for a month. .. By mid-January, several prominent Ukrainian art collectors arrived in Miami in February, setting up this improvised show in a small warehouse in the Allapattah district and curating the untitled Omar Lopeschaud. I was greeted as.

“This is a record of what happened in Ukraine over the last few years,” explained Julia Borosin over the phone from a rental property in Miami where she, her husband, and their little child are staying.

One of Kadan’s works features silkscreen photographs of buildings in the eastern region of Donbus, Ukraine. Partially rubble after Russian troops invaded the area in 2014 and continued to support separatists. “When the air moves it, it captures the vulnerabilities of our country and our lives,” continued Voloshyn, because the silkscreen is loosely attached to a metal shield. “Now we are seeing the same thing in Kyiv.”

The portrait of Komenko depicts ordinary working class people attacked by social forces, whose bodies stick to the boundaries of the canvas.

The large rhino painting from his “Bomber” series may initially look just like a geographic abstraction. However, it features a recent satellite image of the area devastated by the Battle of Donbus, superimposed on one of Sai’s early aluminum paintings, simulating a crater left behind after being attacked by a metal grinder.

Still, Voloshyn’s heart continued to focus on her gallery back in Kyiv. Used as a shelter for bombs when German troops besieged the city during World War II, it is located under a seven-story apartment building. Voloshyns turned it into a chic space, complete with wooden floors and elegant lighting. Now it’s a bomb shelter again, and Vorosin urged the artists in her gallery to evacuate there.

On Saturday night, Kadan crouched in a small group in the Kyiv gallery to prepare for a weekend curfew ordered by the city. His first reaction to Russia’s invasion on Thursday was Stoic. “I stayed in my apartment and watched an old movie of Ingmar Bergman,” he joked to Zoom. By Friday evening, the nearby explosion had grown to a non-negligible size and he had moved to the gallery.

“I have so many historical images in my head that I keep thinking. Sarajevo in the 90’s, Leningrad during World War II,” he said. “Sure, it’s different now. War is always modern and always different. But it’s always bloody. Already there’s a lot of blood.” He was trapped in an adjacent underground bunker. Sticking to the little kids. “Every time we go shopping for cigarettes, we see this empty stroller,” he added badly.

For Kadan, the role of the artist in this situation was clear. “Becoming a witness”. But he also knew that when the Russian army was bored in Kyiv, many artists were exchanging pens and brushes for bottles to make Molotov cocktails. “Emotionally, I’m ready, but technically, to be honest, I’m not,” he explained. “I’ve dealt with the reality of war in my art, but never got a real weapon. Maybe I throw an empty champagne bottle into the tank. I don’t know.”

Khomenko and her family were also initially evacuated to Voloshyn Gallery. An activist during the 2014 Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, she was thrilled to see both military and civilians rally to resist the current invasion. However, Kadan begged Komenko to think of her 11-year-old daughter and set out for safer terrain in the west.

There was an hour of tense debate — and there was a fierce debate with Komenko’s grandmother, who survived the 1941 assault on Kyiv, Germany, and now absolutely refuses to leave the city. Finally on Friday, Komenko, her daughter, husband, sister and mother, mother’s cat and Komenko’s dog were all her dilapidated Czech Skoda before Ukrainian troops began to defensively blow up the city bridge. Packed in and rushed to a friend’s house in the small western city of Ivano-Frankovsk.

“I’ve been driving for over 24 hours,” said Komenko, visibly exhausted, through Zoom on Saturday night. To avoid fighting, “I tried to get away from the main roads between the villages, but those back roads are so bad that it’s stressful. It’s completely dark and very rough.”

All that remains is a series of vast canvases she has been working on for the past five years, to be unveiled at the Kyiv History Museum in June. She was originally inspired by her grandfather’s sketches of the 1941 German invasion. She “wanted to compare the actual experience of war with the propaganda of socialist realism at the time,” except that the comparison was suddenly made in a too realistic update. Her mind was already competing when she meditated aloud on Russia’s recent digital propaganda and the war scenes she just saw and felt.

“Painting has its own language with a deep tradition. I want to work on that tradition, mix socialist realism with internet images, and overlay them to build new images,” she says. I continued before I noticed. She stopped and shook her head. We lived so normally that we became flesh trying to escape. “

Memory of her face

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