"And now? The power of ART"

Anatoly Belov, Daniil Galkin, Ksenia Gnylitska, Lesia Khomenko, Mariia Kulikovska, Mykola Rydnyi, Sergey Popov, Tatiana Voitovych, Volodymyr Kuznetsov
28 March 2014 - 26 April 2014

Curatorial Statement

Mironova Gallery opens parallel to Kobzar, the literature festival in honour of Taras Schewtschenko, the first exhibition of contemporary Ukrainian art to initiate a new exhibition programme.

In the recent moment of crisis, the Ukrainian society has not been given the time to pick up the fruits of their grievous struggle. Powers from the East and West have pulled the country onto their geostrategic playing field, during the critical period where the people themselves try to establish a democratic structure to decide on their own future.

We are asking a simple question; What is now? What are the artists doing? Not in their practical, political, social and civil engagement for the changes in society, but in their very own field of the visual arts? What is the state of contemporary art in the Ukraine? And what role can contemporary art play in a society which tries to overcome the old and case-hardened political structures to create a transparent, open minded and forward thinking new political system?

And now? The Power of Art is not only an exhibition. It is also a workshop for the public to become part of an atmosphere where the reflection about our reality, ourselves and the understanding of complexity and discrepance are the base for any attitude and opinion about our world. The Power of Art lies in the personal visual and sensual experience of an art work, which functions as an exemplified little world in itself, discovered and experienced for the first time.

And now? The Power of Art is focussed on a small group of artists, among them are Anatoly Belov, Daniil Galkin, Ksenia Hnylytskaya, Leshia Khomenko, Mariia Kulikovskaya, Mykola Rydnyi, Sergey Popov, Tatiana Voitovych and Volodymyr Kuznetsov. All are part of the promising younger generation, which will significantly shape the visual culture of the coming years. Works from time-based media (film/video), to painting, drawing and sculpture define the wide scope of artistic means.

And now? The Power of Art will take a closer look into the highly individual artistic approaches. Certainly some of the works are influenced by Maidan or are reflections about the traumatic events, but these are not limited to this political tremor. Instead, like all art of some importance and relevance, the works in the exhibition are addressing the basic questions of humanity; „Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going to?“ (Paul Gauguin, title of painting from 1897/1898). Art has the power to attract us emotionally and to move our individual discrete thinking into an open space, where nothing is defined by prejudice but everything expands to a boundless area of critical and conceptual reasoning.

And now? The Power of Art is not a single exhibition event. The questions behind will guide us over the coming months for future exhibitions at Lavra.

Rainald Schumacher

Sergey Popov (* 1978 Komsomolsk, Ukraine)

Lives and works in Kyiv (member of SOSka Group)

Something might change the ordinary flow of time. A straight horizontal line erupts into a zig-zag, an icon of explosion, it calms down again to a straight line. An event has happened in the daily occurences and turns into a singular historic event, as it get framed by the facts, narratives and stories about. Such eruption has taken place since 21 November 2013, when the protests against the Ukrainian government started on Maidan. The triptych Event, 2011, by Sergey Popov has been painted before the political and societal breakup. The artist transformed a theoretical concept into a clear visual structure. The work questions also the function of painting by playing with the sophisticated simplicity of visual language of signage.
Such an historic event leads to the desire to keep it in memory, maybe to say to a later generation, yes, I was there, I have been there, I was engaged and took part – something very human that is shown also in his video Souvenir, 2013, that documents a moment, when the people pulled the Lenin sculpture at Taras Shevchenko Boulevard from its pilar on 8th December 2013.

Tatiana Voitovych (* 1987 Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine)

Lives and works in Kyiv

What do to with the empty column, where poor Lenin was standing? It might become a site for temporary interventions by artists comparable to the Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square in London. Tatiana Voitovych used the site of the pilar already for an artistic intervention, an invasion of golden painted manequins. Children-like figures, innocent and pure took over the site and confronted the surprised passerbys with an optimistic and hopeful vision, just a few steps from the barricades securing the Maidan. The video Determination, 2014, documents the action expressing a lot of hope, that took place just a few days before the situation turned into a nightmare and the deadly shootings and killings took place at Maidan.

Mariia Kulikovskaya (* 1985 Kerch, Ukraine)

Lives and works in Kyiv

Artist might have been taken by surprise and relief by the insistence and power of the revolution. Most took part, spent time on Maidan discussing, fighting, helping, giving first aid, bringing food. They might have asked themselves what could be their role in such times, when the power of art seems suspended. They might have even doubted, if the work they had done before was right. At night Mariia Kulikovskaya stole herself into the Pinchuk Art Center, where her work Soma, 2013, was installed. The heavy pilars, build from salt bricks, prepared and baked together in a hard working process by the artist herself, seemed like well preserved ruins of an ancient time. With a grand sculptural gesture she continued to work on them in this night. She transformed the solid structure of one of the columns by hammering it down. A symbolic gesture for a change, for the will to transform even something, that was built up before by herself. To speed up the process of change and the flow of events by action. To BE OR not to BE, 2014, a short dramatically edited video is not only a document of this performance but also a strong statement for the power, beauty and strength of women.

Ksenia Gnilitska (* 1984, Kyiv)

Lives and works in Kyiv

As history shows quite often, artists might create an artwork and then the flow of events adds the these artworks an unforeseeable importance and relevance. The ceramic passports of Ksenia Gnilitskaya Fragile of Identification, 2014 are excellent examples of such a pre-vision, when the later events add a sense of actualiy, showing that good art, always takes on changing meanings and narratives during the time. Actually produced a few weeks before the annexation of Crimea, when nobody imagined such a violation a national integrity, these beautiful objects were addressing quesitons and concepts of nationality. Through the imperial gesture the small pieces which bear an immense painterly quality have turned also into a memorial of recent political events and the many personal tragedies on Crimea.

Oleshia Khomenko (* 1980 Kjiv, Ukraine)

Lives and works in Kyiv

What can an artist do, when barricades are burning, people are fighting with police and military to make their voices heard and respected, when people are getting hurt and even killed? Is this the end of art? The end of any human intelligence, creativity and mutual respect? It might be, but not for Oleshia Khomenko. She decided to continue with her work, to take part in the revolution, to be part of the people on Maidan, but as a true artist. So she resorted to the basic artistic language of drawing, went over the Maidan and asked people for the permission to make a portrait, Drawing on Maidan, 2013/2014. She used a pencil, a few lines and presented the original drawing as a gift to the person she had portrayed. Over the weeks she made over 200 portraits and used a classic type-writer carbon paper to produce at the same time a unique copy of the drawing. A few of the portrayed people might have been even killed, some seriously injured and all of the faces in the drawings might stand as a momorial to all the people that have become the heroes of the revolution on Maidan.

Mykola Rydnyi (* 1985, Kharkiv)

Lives and works in Kharkiv (member of SOSka Group)

News, even the most awful and disastrous ones, are getting consumed and digested by the TV-potatoes nearly in the same way as they are eating their chips, peanuts and other nibblings that satisfy their appetite for the next sensation. At least as long as it creates some lust for more. Yes, the events on Maidan had the same effect and they’ve put the country on the map. Suddenly and continuously the Ukraine was the place, where the news are, where the story is happening. The photographic series Husk, 2008/2009 by Mykola Ridnyi plays in some humorous way with the consumer mentality. As long as such news does not strike us personally and disturb the consum of our dose of daily goodies, it is good and entertaining news. For many people in the Ukraine it is a different story. For them these news have existencial meaning and importance, they have produced the events, they wanted to change something.

Volodymyr Kuznetsov (* 1976 Lutsk, Ukraine)

Lives and works in Kyiv

In his latest wall-painting Building a New Country Together , 2014, just painted a day before the opening on two walls of the exhibition space, Volodymyr Kuznetsov reflects on the small circumstancial situations that all played together to force this black giant to fall. Scenes, sometimes even romantic, picturesque, violent and bloody of a revolution surround the huge immense figure in black suit that lays on the ground, maybe not really defeated. Maybe it is only a colossus that rests and will easily move up again. A person sits there on a tire reading a book, behind stands a Molotov cocktail. Another one works on the lap-top, wearing a mask. Scenes of a revolution which has just begun and has now the chance to plant the seeds for a new and open society.

Daniil Galkin (* 1985 Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine)

Lives and works in Kyiv

There will be another summer when sunflowers are growing and moving their heads in the light and warmth of the sun. Hopefully this summer will show not only burnt and black sunflowers. Yes, there is hope and optimism and the new large painting by Daniil Galkin, Sunflower Country, 2014, made in style of a large woodcut print, is such an image for the optimistic vision that the black mud from blood and burned tires that still covers most areas of Maidan will turn into a peaceful and joyful future.

Anatoly Belov (* 1977, Kiev)

Lives and works in Kyiv

With some gentle and ephemeral brush strokes Anatoly Belov, musician, poet and artist, draws for the series Sex, Medical, Rock-n-Roll, 2013, a dreamlike, romantic scenery onto the white canvas. His free and vibrating calligraphy adds a sense of a highly personal and emotional message so typical for an handwritten texts, especially in times, when more and more texts are written on computer. Even without knowing or understanding the text and meaning of the words the viewer is getting entangled into a poetic, romantic atmosphere. Something innocent and pure accompanies these paintings, a deep human desire for true emotions, sincere love and freedom. Part of the works are studies for a short film with the same title, the texts derive from some songs of the musician and poet Anatoly Belov. In such a way he addresses the important elements of many subcultures that should not be forgotten in all the political struggle, the power of love, sex, freedom and the anarchic pleasure in psychedelic experience.