Opening of the exhibition “Forms of presence” in the Mystetskyi ArsenalAbout Us

Opening of the exhibition “Forms of presence” in the Mystetskyi Arsenal

On April 20, the opening of the Ukrainian contemporary art exhibition “Forms of Presence” took place in the Mystetskyi Arsenal. This exhibition is an attempt to bring together yearly observations and conversations about the experiences and feelings that Ukrainian artists have had and the practices they have used since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.

“This exhibition is about a new artistic experience. When hard extreme times come – Russian military invasion, threats of violence and death – artists radically change the motives and the very nature of using unconventional materials. For them, the material becomes both a form of presence and a way of resisting the murderous logic of ruination and destruction”, said Oleksandr Solovyov, co-curator of the exhibition.

Photo: Oleksandr Popenko © Mystetskyi Arsenal

In the exhibition space, each of the creators is present not only through their artworks but also through their personal stories, which allows a broader understanding of the conditions in which these artworks were made possible. Despite the different experiences that Ukrainian artists went through with the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, certain common features can be seen in their artworks: attraction to handwork, restrained color palette, sadness, interest in ‘found things’, i.e. ready-made as a technique, the need for the speed of the method and the rigidity of the instant choice. The material accumulates memory (especially about childhood and its traumas), becomes a symbol of time (i.e. a black plastic bag), it is at hand, sometimes spontaneous and brutal (sacking, concrete), but at the same time fragile and ephemeral (glass, sand, paper).

“This exhibition would be impossible without conversations and stories about home and childhood, without feelings of confusion and picking yourself up piece by piece. Through the artworks created by the artists, you can see how the surrounding space and the perception of ordinary things and ourselves have changed. Most importantly, despite the destruction and violence, we continue to create and stubbornly assert our presence”, said Natasha Chychasova, co-curator of the exhibition.

Photo: Oleksandr Popenko © Mystetskyi Arsenal

If you look more closely at the textures of the city, the war will remind you of itself with fences and facades torn into pieces, anti-tank hedgehogs standing next to the barricades made of sacks and tape stars on the windows. Losses are hidden everywhere — in conversations on the street, in abandoned homes and beloved belongings, in numbers whose owners will never pick up the phone again, in newsfeed photos of cities and houses we have never been to and can now only imagine their original look. For many, those cities were a home to which they cannot come back now. All the images, stories, and thoughts are superimposed on each other creating a cycle of life during the ongoing war.

Among this endless flow of losses, hope does not fade away, and each of us who has lost something keeps building a dream house, even if it is made of sand so that later we can step into it physically and breathe the air on the streets of our hometowns.

Photo: Oleksandr Popenko © Mystetskyi Arsenal

The exhibition “Forms of presence” will present the artworks of Ukrainian artists: Yuriy Bolsa, Andrii Denysenko, Anastasiia Dytso and Sasha Roshen, Anton Karyuk, Yana Kononova, Olena Kurzel, Maksym Mazur, Daria Molokoiedova, Daniil Nemyrovskyi, Karina Synytsia, Leo Trotsenko, Tamara Turliun, Sana Shakhmuradova-Tanska, Vitaly Yankovy, Three practices of realism, commercial public art and Svitlanka Konoplyova, Open place.

More about the concept of the exhibition

Curatorial group: Oleksandr Soloviov, Natasha Chychasova

The exhibition will run from April 20 to July 30, 2023.

Working hours: Wednesday-Sunday, from 12:00 to 20:00.

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office of the Mystetskyi Arsenal or online.

The exhibition was created in partnership with Art Arsenal Community NGO as part of the project supported by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine. The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Government.