• Beyond the Canvas

"During the quarantine period, I began to create staged self-portraits at home. In the photo, which was the beginning of the series, I seem to be hiding behind house plants in the corner, symbolically and succinctly denoting the existing dead-end state of each person during a pandemic. In my subsequent works, although I turn to self-irony, nevertheless, photographing myself in the nude, I live moments of self-acceptance. Over time, the series of self-portraits went beyond the fun of self-isolation and became a personal diary, where each picture can be associated with important events, thoughts or intimate feelings.

The giant awakens empathy with his spontaneity and openness. And if the portrait of a person is his story, then the space around the object builds its meaning." - Artem Humilevskiy

There isn't much I can add to Artem's words really. In his photos, which I find extraordinarily moving and uplifting in all their self-deprecating candour, I see and feel exactly everything he says. I'm just happy to have discovered his work today.

#artemhumilevskiy #ukrainianartist #ukrainianart #photography #contemporaryart #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

Self-portraits from the Giant series, 2020-2021

© Artem Humilevskiy

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  • Beyond the Canvas

Artem Volokitin was born in 1981. He lives and works in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, home to 1.4 million people and less than 20 miles from the Russian border. Kharkhiv was therefore an obvious target for the invading forces. Last Sunday, Russian troops entered the city and started bombing it to the ground. We know the strategy, we have seen it in Aleppo. And in Chechnya before then.

In response to the upheavals of 2014, the so called Revolution of Dignity, the subject matter of Volokitin work shifted from the depiction of the human figure to that of violent explosions. In this picture, he has applied raging tongues of fire to a printed background that is reminiscent of Dürer. The juxtaposition between the explosion and the sky creates a disquieting mood that is suspended somewhere between the tragic reality of today's Ukraine and classical myth.

I have looked for an instagram account so I could credit his work. I found this, but the only post dates back 113 weeks. I hope Artem and his loved ones are safe.

#artemvolokitin #ukrainianartist #ukrainianart #contemporaryart #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

Artem Volokitin

Irreversible Beauty - I, 2014

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  • Beyond the Canvas

Updated: Apr 20

My dear Ukrainian friend Halyna makes veggie borsch for me. She also makes kapusta (red cabbage), Olivier (Russian) salad and blinis, which we eat with smoked salmon and lashings of smetana (sour cream). She feeds me her food in the same way she does everything: with generosity and pride. Every time she cooks is a bit special because that's when she talks about her childhood memories, her late parents and their life on a farm in what was then the USSR.

No cooking today, she had been up all night listening to the news. It was the first time in the 25 years that I have known her that she looked tired, her eyes sunken and red. We sat in the sun and we talked for over an hour. I let her talk, there wasn't much I could or wanted to say. Her 62 year old brother Vasha is a reservist, he lives in Lviv. We video-called him and he told us he's ready to fight and die if that's his fate, but that no one is going to take away their freedom. I just sat there and listened, nodding and trying to muster a sympathetic smile as if it made any difference to anyone. The man is 62 and he's ready to die to defend his country. These people are made of different stuff.

I love this picture, I often find food paintings intimate and joyful. They speak to our connectedness to our roots, they are a solid expression of our identity. Oleg Tistol painted something simple yet meaningful with genuine enthusiasm and vibrant colours. I get lost in those swirls as I think of the humbling courage of the Ukrainian people.

#olegtistol #ukrainianartist #ukrainianart #borsch #art #contemporaryart

Oleg Tistol

Borsch, 2011

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