Why revolution?
My Art was born out of the revolution.

I still remember and feel the moment when this transformation began – as if it was today. On the 21st of November, 2013 I stopped theorizing and starting acting. I went to Maidan (the Independence Square in Kyiv), where people just started gathering for what later got called the Euromaidan. In that moment it was clear that my life changed.

The phenomenon of total injustice fueled our ideas for a different future for my country and for my children and transformed them with bold strokes first into a picture of peaceful manifestation, then resistance, then revolution followed by the russia’s attacks, invasion, war. I had never imagined that our streets would be burning, stained with blood and covered with dead bodies. But here we were… in the winter of 2013-2014 surrealism turned into reality.

Uncertainty, sacrifice, blind hope and fear were my feelings, but we passed the point of no return. I burned the bridges to my past and removed the mask of “normal” life. It was the new beginning.

Birth of a Nation, Oil on canvas, 45*35 cm, 2014
“The Birth of a Nation” captures the first bloody days of the Revolution of Dignity. There’s the “instigator” that directly looks at us – unlike Delacroix’s Liberty he has not a flag, but a Molotov cocktail in his hands. His gaze resembles Putin provides for more tension and a twist. There’s the “nationalist” in the red construction helmet rushing forward with a burning cocktail – a new force to be reckoned with. The “biker” that is throwing the bottle – he’s enjoying the thrill and the adrenaline. There are other people, whose faces we don’t see – they are doctors, electricians, lawyers, drivers, teachers, farmers, salesmen and students holding shields.

All these people lived their lives and didn’t have much in common before Maidan, but they united to crush the chains of oppression that have penetrated all their lives in recent years. They united for freedom, for dignity, for Ukraine. They want to live and build their own future and nation, which they do as the construction scaffolding suggests. But many of them would die like the yellow flowers that are falling to be crushed on the ground. Right behind the flowers is a new blank canvas – the first page of a new era for Ukraine…

Passacaglia, Oil on canvas, 100*80 cm, 2015
Yet, why should we be so surprised? Uprisings, revolutions and wars, oppression, humiliation and fear – all have been around for at least as long as there have been homo sapiens. And artists have been always in the midst of such turmoil, in the front lines for social change, or even prosecuted for their Art.

During Euromaidan (Revolution of Dignity, 2013-2014) in Ukraine peaceful streets of Kiev turned into a battle field. The absurd turned real. Tear gas filled the air, tires burning, black, thick smoke rising and the government forces started shooting. In the midst of it a saxophonist played sounds of freedom to the rhythms of shots, explosions like drum beats echoing in the thick air.

The musician, the artist accompanies the dramatic events, but is also the conductor at the same time. He portrays what’s happening, yet he’s a vital part of the energy that turns historic pages. He expresses himself just like he did 400 years ago in Spain, where the musical form of Passacaglia (Chaconne) takes its roots. It was a dance that was prohibited in 16th century Spain as it seemed improper to the ruling class. The dancers were prosecuted in the 16th and 17th centuries just as Ukrainians’ attempts to choose an own path got violently prosecuted in the 21st century.

The saxophonist’s figure combines his masterful and peaceful passion for music, which he worked on for years, and violent reality represented by him wearing a helmet. It resonates with the time shift in the background, where on the left side Grushevski Street in Kyiv is burning in the Winter and on the right side it turns quiet and peaceful in early Spring. (The “Passacaglia” was displayed to a wide audience during ArtPrize7 in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.)

Status: In a private collection.

 

Zarabanda, Oil on canvas, 100*70 cm, 2015
Ukraine’s Revolution was truly one of Dignity. Millions of people stood up on the streets for their rights and freedom in unison across the country. It really inspired my belief in Ukraine as a nation, where the seed of positive change took root and would grow and flourish in the future. Yet, in order to grow a seed needs water. In our case it wasn’t water – it was blood.

The government’s militia, special forces and mercenaries that stood against the people were trained, paid and pressed to have no beliefs… to kill. Yet, were all of them hopelessly lost? Maybe, one could call me naive, but I did have hope and I know many, who believed that the seeds we planted have touched a few of the faceless ones, as well.

The following oil painting is “Zarabanda.” You’ve probably heard J.S. Bach’s 25th Goldberg Variation, which is a sad Sarabande. However sad it may be, it’s still music, and music is hope and love. One of the “weapons” that we used during the revolution was music. There were piano set ups in front of the troops, where the “revolutionaries,” the “piano terrorists” played skillfully to demonstrate our human face. And in a crowd of the stone cold, devilish stares behind metal shields, if you were lucky, you could notice a pair of human eyes…

 

Слава Україні! Glory to Ukraine!