The title of the event was inspired by a work of its curator, painter Oleksandr Melnyk. This year’s national exhibit is consonant with his earlier personal exhibition, but the peculiarities of this day and age have left a mark on its theme and genre diversity. The artist said that he has been coming back to this topic throughout his whole life, admitting that perhaps he started drawing after his gifted cousin died young in a war.
The exhibition includes over 300 paintings, sculptures, graphic works, posters, decorative and applied arts items, presented by authors from various parts of the country. The works differ in theme and style, they were created in various periods of Ukrainian history, but they all are united by the common anti-war idea, which found its reflection in appeals to Cossack themes (Fraternized by Oleksandr Ivakhnenko), religious reflections (sculpture Winner by Mykola Bilyk, oils on glass Saint Paraskeva and Saint Varvara by Halyna Chernysh). There are also canvases that were painted in the 1960s (Mother by Vira Barynova-Kuleba), which reveal the theme of post-war hardships and become important today. Mykola Mikhnovsky’s words on territorial integrity of Ukraine, quoted on the eponymous canvas by Oles Solovei, remain relevant, and the clear-sighted eyes of the Almighty painted by Oleksandr Melnyk (I See Your Deeds, Man), known to many from Maidan, once again call for the sense of responsibility for what has been done.
A lot of works were created under the influence of the Maidan events and Russia’s military invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine (The One Who Came with a Sword by Natalia Meles, Wheel of Ukrainian History by Bohdan Tkachyk, Defender by Leonid Sotnyk).
“There is a very fine and deep combination of the traditions of Ukrainian art, including folk art – Mamai the Cossack, folk paintings and icons; and at the same time, modern works, such as collages and posters, are expertly made,” said art critic Dmytro STEPOVYK. “Relevantly themed works inspire great hope in a nation. When artists create such wonderful works in such uneasy times, this also speaks of invincibility.”
Young artists also responded to the initiative of the art project and offered their vision of the Ukrainian present. Posters dedicated to information war, collages, calendars with photographs of Maidan events (One for All by M. Pluzhko) and famous Ukrainian art patrons (To Love Ukraine to the Depth of Your Own Pockets by A. Zdorova), diverse canvases (Wings by Melnyk, I Am Maidan by K. Haneichuk) show how deep artistic concern for current events in Ukraine is.
Poet Petro Zasenko said that the terrible time we are going through now has been captured in many works and it forces us to think and strive to fight back the military aggression in the east. Famous Ukrainian artist Mykola Storozhenko emphasized that such exhibitions show the existence of traditions, historic tenacity, and the matrix of Ukrainian art which is focused on a person changed by the influence of modern civilization.
“Ukraine is bleeding, it is in horrible pain, but a genuine nation is born out of this pain. This exhibition is an artist’s impression of the scream of birth of the new Ukrainian nation, which will come victorious out of this war,” said sculptor Anatolii KUSHCH.
The exhibition will be open until September 30.