Ukrainian women who create art despite the conflict

At the Fridman Gallery in New York as well as a gallery in Kyiv, some of the top female artists from Ukraine are currently telling stories of conflict. The ladies, who are also activists and artists, are responding to the Russian incursion and past battles over the takeover of Crimea via paintings, photography, and movies. The strong, menacing pieces demonstrate that art is more than simply attractive visuals.

Max in the Army by Lesia Khomenko, 2022. 84.5 x 57.5 inches, oil on canvas Caption by Lesia Khomenko hidden
switch to caption еа Khomenko

Max in the Army by Lesia Khomenko, 2022. 84.5 x 57.5 inches, oil on canvas

еа Khomenko One of the numerous Ukrainian soldiers conscripted to fight against the Russians is seen in Lesia Khomenko’s photograph of her new husband Max. Before the conflict, he worked as a musician and media artist. Lesia and he were dating. Lesia was allowed to flee the nation once Max enlisted in the military.

He sent her selfies frequently during the months of their separation. She did, however, notice changes in Max during those months. He is completely dressed in military garb now, she claims. She also gives him a fresh sense of tension. His expression is stern. He salutes while maintaining a perfect posture. His demeanor conveys seriousness, focus, and determination. His clothing is overly large. She muses, “I wonder if I can still recognize him.”

Lesia gave an interview to NPR the day before she returned from New York to Ukraine for just a week. Despite the fact that it meant being apart from Max, she had felt she had to leave her home nation. “Ukraine is too hazardous. I am a very responsible parent to my young kid. She and I cannot cohabitate in Ukraine.” She had to flee to the basement three times a day to hide from shelling: “You’re overwhelmed with fear.”

She and Max were able to make the fear almost tolerable, though, with the aid of technology. They were wed online.

Other artists in the exhibition “Women at War” creates artwork about war, its suffering, politics, and history. They depict the terrible, bloody drawings of private parts left over from rapes, a mother and young children at the bottom of a dirty basement stairway, and the ominous sight of a mental hospital. The Ukrainian women create art despite being surrounded by gunfire and fatalities.

According to curator and art historian Monika Fabijanska, “there was artistic life in every conflict, either underground or above ground, wherever available.” Being creative is a necessary outlet. Through art, you can name and process your emotions and connect with others who share your experience.

These artists serve as history’s eyewitnesses to the brutality and human cost of war through their illustrations, films, and even writings on discarded pieces of bedding.

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