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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Two Olena Holub exhibitions to be held in January

27 January, 2004 - 00:00

The start of 2004 in Kyiv’s artistic life has been marked with many vivid events. Among them are the two unexpected exhibitions like fireworks by Olena Holub, member of the National Artists Union of Ukraine, who is mostly known for her articles on the arts published, in part, in The Day.

Until February 11 the Universytet [University] Gallery (closed on Saturdays and Sundays) will host Olena Holub’s one-woman show under an unusual title, Triumph of the Yellow Hare. This climax of creative self-expression was preceded by long work bringing interesting finds along with doubts and long periods of silence.

Olena Holub’s creative work began in the 1970s. Uniting with a group of underground artists who tried to defend their right to an independent creative language, she presented her first works: An Empty Plate, reflecting the confusion of the intelligentsia that could not see any future for itself, portraits of Dmytro Chus and poet Bella Akhmadulina, Fall Loneliness, etc. Simultaneously she wrote poetry, resounding with the loneliness and uneasiness of a young soul seeking new prospects and horizons. This is how we see the artist in her 1976 Self Portrait.

Some of Holub’s colleagues and associates who never received public recognition (M. Trehub and V. Baklytsky) where recognized classics of the Ukrainian avant-garde only after their tragic deaths.

It seemed that life came to a stop — but not for Olena Holub. Having overcome the pain of loss and lack of recognition, she used her regained power and experience to present a series of new works created in the late 1990s. Here the grotesque and irony verge on delicate psychological insight and attempts to comprehend man striving to find his place in nature and society. Through the outward expressive form including elements of kitsch, one can see the author’s compassion and sympathy to her personages. Her works created in a purely marginal style have immediately occupied their niche in contemporary art.

The paintings Aunt, Fisherman, Super Hero, Chupa-Chups or the Illusion of Equality, etc., have been successfully exhibited in Kyiv (the Ukrainian House Arts Palace), and Magdeburg, Germany, at international arts festivals in 2000-2002. Instead of being lost in the variety of styles and streams of world, Olena Holub’s works were distinguished by original traits of her individual, as well as our national, style. Now one can see them at the Universytet Gallery.

From January 15 to 30 the Maisternia [Studio] Gallery at the Artists House hosts Olena Holub’s photo installation project, Signals of Inexact Time, which had previously been displayed at the Third International Arts Festival in Magdeburg. Some of the works were also presented at the Eurographic 2003 International Graphics Triennial.

Turning to contemporary computer technologies, the artist, as is her custom, pungently felt the pulse and rhythm of the time. By confronting and comparing various historical photographic materials she is in the process of solving philosophical problems of existence itself. The new series features the transformation of family traditions and generational ties (Hello, Great-Grandfather! and Hello, Great-Grandmother!) along with the global transformation of conscience in material reviewing the totalitarian past (Yes and No, The Totalitarian Ballade, and Recipient Unknown).

Olena Holub calls upon us to return to human problems and perception of the human essence. In her works the fates of historical persons (Stalin, Hitler, etc) are closely interlaced with personages from family albums, who act together in the historical context. They pose questions about everybody’s connection with and responsibility for everything that ever happened or is happening now (Who to Be With? and He, She, They...).

Today Olena Holub is on a new turn in her creative flight. One cannot but wish to become one of the characters she has created, the Yellow Hare, rising high above our omnivorous globalization and broad expansion of the mass media and fill oneself with the sense of freedom and independence.

By Nina SAYENKO, Merited Cultural Worker of Ukraine