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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

Ukrainian artists: Nikolay Lukin

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.

Nikolay Lukin

Archetypes Diptych, 2016

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