SHELEST.hotel and The Naked Room announce an exhibition by Kateryna Lysovenko in the art space of the complex. Lysovenko replaced Lucy Ivanova, whose paintings opened this year's programme.
Before the full scale invasion, Kateryna’s artistic practice is known to explore a potential dual role of (monumental) painting and drawing as an element of resistance and comparable to a casket designed to hold shards of memory. Remembrance and the utopian act of resurrection seem fundamental and symbolic to the artist’s creative philosophy. Memory becomes a safe space, establishing survival for people, places, and ideas seeking shelter from evil, destruction, and oblivion. Trained as a monumental painter Kateryna often turns to “propaganda” tools in her practice: her work of the 2020–21 went under the motto (as well as title of the series) “Propaganda of the World of My Dream”. There she mixed mythological and religious iconography with an idea of a post-queer lifestyle. She inhabited her works with people of various genders, non-humans and nature as a subject sharing a co-living together.
Since February 2022, “propaganda” in Lysovenko’s work has taken on a more practical dimension, recording and commenting on violence against bodies, buildings and land. The artist took on the role of a reporter, updating the (art) world almost daily with news from Ukrainian fields, cities, and souls. In this role the artist has been confident, fierce, and unwavering. Instead, in the Nakedness series, Kateryna radically changes her position and turns to her personal experiences. Forced to leave Ukraine with her two children, without the possibility of returning, she confesses her own despair and vulnerability. Here the key national question “What were you doing during the war?” is transformed from a claim into a confession and a proposal to share the common pain, rather than to build walls between those Ukrainians who are there (at the front), here (in the rear) and there (in evacuation).
Lysovenko’s work also continues an important line that has become common—and iconic—for many artists in the past war year. It is the search for a new quality of landscape as a genre that has an established and somewhat stiff place in Ukrainian art. In the history of visual, poetic, and folklore culture the “Ukrainian landscape” is perceived as a dead cliché that has little to do with the sensitivity of contemporary art. The turn from frivolous artistic admiration of landscapes to a more sincere, painful understanding of the landscape as something alive and fragile, rather than imaginary beautiful by default, has only just occurred when the landscape itself became a victim of military aggression.