Contemporary Ukrainian art exhibit on war

‘Russian woman chooses fresh meat’ by Anton Lohov, at the Alte Münze Art Center, Berlin, Germany. May 2022. (Credit: Anton Lohov)

“The Captured House” features works of contemporary Ukrainian artists, who document the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine and invites viewers to participate in an intercultural dialogue. Last month in Berlin, the exhibition began its tour of European capitals.


Visitors start their journey in darkened corridors reverberating to the sounds of bells, explosions and roars, to the splintering of windows shattered by blast waves, followed by an avalanche of commotion, fire, ejection of someone's blood, the roar of engines and the screams of people, and cries and howls burst into the cozy space. Not just a culture shock, but a global shock - that's what you feel yourself, and this is first and foremost excitedly reported by every visitor who we approached.

‘Drilling Numbers’ by Ellebasi Gebhardt, at the Alte Münze Art Center, Berlin, Germany. May 2022. (Credit: Roman Yekymov)

Curator Katya Taylor assures us that she is only doing what she always does with this exhibition, but it is difficult to agree with her. This is an extremely powerful artistic expression, moreover, not one voice, but a choir, a choir whose sound is pervasive and filled with frost. You are taken to a trench or barricade, find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder and face to face with the enemy - and left with no doubt that this enemy will be stopped.

Ukraine’s strongest artists, the terrible war, and a nation which is no longer a geographical concept but an international symbol, merge together. This transforms the experience from mere metaphor into something really unforgettable.

‘The region’ by Oleksii Revika, at the Alte Münze Art Center, Berlin, Germany. May 2022. (Credit: Oleksii Revika)

One of the participants in the project Oleksii Sai has come out, freely admitting that he now works in the genre of propaganda posters. But both he and the others exhibiting here, (in whatever medium), showed deep and genuinely sincere reflections on the tragedy that has befallen the Ukrainian people.

‘Entropy’ by Yevhen Prymachenko, at the Alte Münze Art Center, Berlin, Germany. May 2022. (Credit: Roman Yekymov)

In the same way, the presence of Yevhen Prymachenko's powerful but categorically non-figurative work ‘Entropy’, which seems to be a discordant blast compared to the other works in terms off manner, (but not content), makes one feel how invariably the works of all the other authors are inherently of the moment, the transition to war.

A messenger screen is recreated from rags in a basement during the shelling. Cut off from the world, Svitlana Levchenya imagined news from relatives and a dialogue. It is a seemingly extremely simple work, yet subtle and incredibly poignant.

фото ВР.jpg
‘Mom's blanket’ by Svitlana Levchenya, at the Alte Münze Art Center, Berlin, Germany. May 2022 (Credit: Vlada Ralko)

The need to go through physical inconveniences to see some of the work is perceived here as a circumstance, not an artistic method. The show’s Berlin setting, displayed in the confined space of an intricate basement, is of a piece. It is a reminder to the public that civilians are buried in Ukraine in such basements while trying to escape the war, while other Europeans are coming down to such a basement to face the war in complete safety.

Despite Ukraine’s need for propaganda there is no stifling of a strong artistic message that carries an audible and expressive direct expression - on top of metaphors, images and concepts.

‘Hypnosis’, (from the Lviv diary series), by Vlada Ralko, at the Alte Münze Art Center, Berlin, Germany. May 2022 (Credit: Vlada Ralko)

Surprisingly, we did not find a detailed list of participants in any press release. And there are artists who really deserve to be known to the European audience not only by their work, but also by their names.

Let's try to fill this gap as much as possible: IlIia Sostanovskyi, Mykhailo Alekseenko, Bohdan Tomashevskyi, Ihor Husev, Roman Chizz, Symonenko, Gamlet Zinkivskyi, Oleksandra Kovaliova, Evgen Prymachenko, Alevtina Kakhidze, Masha Shubina, Ellebasi Gebhardt, Yuriy Bolsa, Vlada Ralko, Oleksii Sai, Mikhailo Rai, Julia Beliaeva, Sasha Kurmaz, Yevhen Samborskyi, Andriy Roik, Kinder Album, Zolotar, (Oleksii Zolotariov), Tiberiy Silvashi, Oksana Levchenya, Aleksandra Krolikowska, Stas Zhalobniuk, Nikolle and Michelle Feldman, Anna Hrabarska, Valeriy and Nadiya Protoryeva, Elizaveta Servytynska, Olexii Revika, Anton Lohov, Narciso Contreras, Oleksandr Popenko, Roman Pashkovskyi, Mstyslav Chernov, Dmytro Krasnyi, Adam Katz Sinding, Oleksii Furman, Eugene Maloletka, Andrii Bashtovyi, Daria Koltsova, Max Levin, Daniil Galkin, Valerii Veduta, Yevhen Prymachenko, Mykhailo Palinchak, Stanislava Ovchynnykova, Symonenko, Volodymyr Budnikov, Alex Kuvallini, Yulia Kochetova.