(warning: long read!)
title of the series of 16 works: Meaningful Gestures
It's been 7 long horrific months since the war was waged by Russia upon Ukraine. It started with bombings by planes & artillery fire onto the sleeping residential blocks in towns & villages, it started with mile-long columns of tanks & millitary equipment rolling in into peaceful sleepy rural agrarian places in many places in Ukraine at the same time.
I grew up in Ukraine, former USSR & immigrated to the US w/ my family at the age of 16. We were brought up hating the war-time, everyone remembered the aftermath of WWII. Besides living in such historical richness of conflicts in that part of the world no-one wanted another war…
I remember my parents tending to our fruit garden & growing strawberries. That palce was recently bombed. Every summer as a child I remember taking trips to the shore of Black Sea to visit my grandmother. That place was bombed multiple times already.
In reality the war in Ukraine started in 2014 with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula & "localized" conflict in Donbas region. People of Ukraine have been readying for the larger conflict for 8 years & yet, no one is ever ready for war. For mass evacuations, for bomb shelters, for scatterd human limbs, for hungry andoned dogs & cats roaming the streets. For carpet bombings, for ruins, ruins, ruins everywhere.
Creating this series of works, “Meaningful gestures”, was probably the easiest and most difficult at the same time. I started wrapping my head around the small artwork squares some time in the middle of January, and a few weeks into it I was working on various ideas & sketches. Towards the end of February, namely the 24th of February 2022, the war in Ukraine broke out. At that moment it was clear to me that no work could be about something other than the war, however, for the next 2 months I could not make any artwork. Watching news & nervously scrolling the Ukrainian news & social media channels, we, as a local group of emigres from the former Soviet Union, were laser focused & greatly driven on figuring out the humanitarian aid & needs of Ukraine & for Ukraine. There wasn’t any emotional space left for creative endeavors. When I finally came back to making work for the show some time in May, I had enough sadness, anxiety, and pride that I made work rather quickly.
Ideas behind the work are all war related, except for one piece which has to do with shooting in Uvalde, TX, which happened at the same time and “perfectly” integrated into the stream of already horrific string of news. These small squares needed to differ from each other, I try to avoid repeating myself. Ideas must be said in different ways and various thoughts need to be communicated. My figures bounce between abstracted generalized humanoids and somewhat accurate figurative outlines. They are all minimal abstractions. The title of the series “meaningful gestures” formed immediately before drawing anything. I knew that russiasts were making meaningless gestures by waging meaningless war. They created chaos, devastation, death, destruction, deepest sorrow, & unwittingly witnessed unprecedented unity on the opposing side. The Light bearers are on the right side of history, united they are even stronger. Conceptually works presented here are chronologically a few months behind, they are in the beginning of the war. They are mainly about the emotional pain which the war inflicts upon us. I am yet to draw the large scale of civilian destruction which is taking place throughout the russiasts offensive. I know, there are many more small squares to come as the war wages on.
Ukraine is very unlucky to have such a horrible neighbor as imperialist russia, yet it is truly amazing that Ukraine has the rest of the world as its friends. It's truly breathtaking to witness how the world is supporting Ukraine’s fight to stay a country and be independent. The people of many countries & their governments are all feeling the pain & are willing to help, help, help.
UA Bucha, 2022. The afterlife of the aftermath