“That is the archaeology I am unearthing: The spectre of police violence and state control over the bodies of young Black and Brown people all over the world.” - Kehinde Wiley

As I was walking through the dimly lit halls of this show this morning, all I could think about was the news of the umpteenth shooting in the US, the one in Buffalo where a 19 year old killed 10 people. In a way, I felt like I was at the crime scene.

And that was it. I realised I had no desire to read about the exhibition, there was no need. Simply because the link between the works and the topic was so painfully clear. Wiley's figurative language of the fallen hero, the theme of the show, speaks to the everyday reality of racially-motivated crimes. These black youngsters may look peacefully asleep, but their contorted poses tell a different story.

Wiley continues to challenge and reconceptualise the Western canon with monumental paintings and statues that boldly aspire to berninesque plasticity. Today I also noticed a big nod to the blue landscapes of the Renaissance. In short, Wiley does his usual Wiley thing: it's grandiose, it’s decorative, it's relevant, and it works.

#kehindewiley #fondazionecini #painting #sculpture #biennaledivenezia #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

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  • Beyond the Canvas

I had been following Nikolay Lukin on Instagram for some time, and this morning he followed me back. Дякую, Микола. His latest post is a week old, it shows us a wildflower meadow and trees in bloom in Odessa, which Nikolay captioned: Spring walks hand in hand with death.

The work I have chosen is not recent, it's from 2016. The Ukrainian people have been living with Russian invaders since 2014, when Putin dispatched his army to the country's borders for 'military operations', eventually culminating in the illegal annexation of Crimea, the biggest land-grab in Europe since World War II. So it should come as no surprise that the theme of war has been so prevalent in the body of work of Ukrainian artists. Sunflowers, soniashnyk, have long been a beloved symbol of Ukrainian national identity. In more recent times, they have emerged as an international symbol of resistance, unity and hope. In this painting, Nikolay has painted two bright sunflowers next to a soldier, as if to protect him in his mission.

It seems to me that the news cycle, and with it the public's attention, is slowly but surely drifting away from the horror of what's happening in Ukraine, and I can only assume the media are having a tough time attracting investments from advertisers. It happened with Covid, now it's happening with the war. Who would want their brand associated with such bleakness? And with the Russian disinformation machine hard at work, the news are littered with conspiracy theories, racism, xenophobia and hate. This is a really tricky time to navigate the news. I have added a link to a list of Ukrainian-based journalists, experts and media in my bio.

#nikolaylukin #ukrainianartist #ukraine #standwithukraine #СлаваУкраїні #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

Nikolay Lukin

Archetypes Diptych, 2016

Courtesy xp-art agency

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  • Beyond the Canvas

Today is Liberation Day in Italy. Seventy-seven years later, I am mindful of its importance and continued relevance. To mark this anniversary, I have decided to take aim at those people who, with an inexplicable air of badly concealed annoyance, pontificate that Ukraine 'should just give up already' and surrender a part of its own country to the Russian invaders so they don't get massacred and, far more importantly, so we don't get dragged into a 3rd world war. What a nuisance, what an inconvenient and untimely conflict this is.

And while I wonder what the eff happened to human decency, I have questions for them. Do these people realise that this would mean that after killing their men, raping their women and rendering their children orphans and irreparably traumatised they would occupy their home, impose a stifling authoritarian regime on them and obliterate their hard-fought freedom forever? Do these improvised warologists even understand the consequences, geo-politically and otherwise, of this act of surrender they are so casually advocating, not just for Ukraine, but for Europe and much of the rest of the world? Would these pound shop military experts want that for themselves and their loved ones, or would they fight to the death like the Ukrainians are doing? Why is that so hard to understand?

Today is perhaps the most important day of remembrance for Italy, so let's think back to 1943, when the country was in a state of semi-starvation and complete chaos. Under the German/Fascist yoke, thousands of civilians, often women, children and elderly, were murdered by the Nazis. The economy was in shambles and millions of people like you and I were desperate for normality and peace.

We owe our eternal gratitude to the Partigiani of the Italian Resistance, the 185,000 men and women, of which 29,000 lost their lives, who fought a civil war against Italian Fascists and a war of national liberation against German occupation. Their contribution was instrumental in setting the Italian people and Europe free from fascism and nazism. It is also thanks to them that we get to enjoy freedom, democracy and the right to pontificate from our comfy sofas every day.

So tell me again, why should Ukraine surrender?

#liberazione #25aprile #liberationday #resistenza #resistance #lestweforget #ukraine #standwithukraine #СлаваУкраїні

The great Anna Magnani fends off Nazi soldiers in Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945)

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