IS/NOT (exhibition view) 2023

(the project was created in collaboration with Dima Tolkachov in the Dymchuk Gallery)

war creates gaps: on the surface of the city, as well as in ourselves. but those gaps are never absolute. absence is always a potential for a new presence.

numerous holes made by bomb explosions inhabit cities with masks of pareidolia which one tends to notice more often than familiar faces.

topographic maps are turning into traces of the past, ghosts of the streets that exist no more. yesterday and today merged into the everlasting now, and tomorrow becomes a blurred phantasm between there is and there is not.

we believe that we will rebuild the cities, but we do not know how long it will take for the emotional burns to recover. the feeling of the future returns only with a hope that all the wastelands will revive, and the gaps will be filled in the end. yet what we will fill the void with depends only on us: will it be a yearning for like it was, or a joy of like never before.

Gas pipes in Soledar (photo: reference for Saltwort, 2021)
Saltwort (fragment)

June 2021 outside. It was constantly raining in Soledar. There was impossible to make a mural within the framework of a short-term residence. And I decided to switch to plan B and created a large-format drawing about communication in the city. Then finished my artwork on time, wrote a short text about it, gave a presentation and returned to Kyiv.

June 2023 outside. The Salrwort artwork becomes part of the IS/NOT project. But since the end of January, Soledar has been permanently occupied by Russian troops. In the course of long and heavy battles, the town was turned into ruins. In a certain sense, the story I told through my artwork two years ago is also destroyed and ceases to exist.

Just ink drawing created based on the grotesque segment of the gas pipeline from there remained. The gloomy background and empty lines now only emphasize the non-existence of this fragment of the cityscape. The settlement, most of the inhabitants and communications between them have disappeared. Crossing the city, the front line simultaneously forced Soledar to disappear and exist in an altered state. Until de-occupation takes place.

The map is the perfect document to document the changes. They can talk about changes in territories, the dynamics of people’s activities, or the environmental situation. At the same time, together with people’s memories, they are evidence of entire cities that the war turned into ruins.

For Phantom, I used parts of the topographical maps of Soledar and Bakhmut. All other fragments I painted by myself to create the image of one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.

This ink drawing is a collective image of a city that has become a desolate ghost. It is a small mention of hundreds of settlements in the East and South of Ukraine, which remained only on maps. But in real-time, they turned into abandoned fires after the prancing of the war.

There is no whole / The goals are gone (ink on paper, 560х100 сm, 2023)

The sense of time has undergone significant changes in one and a half years. The past melted and distanced itself, and the future became as blurred as possible. Even plans for tomorrow disappear lightly with a new missile attack. Only the constant remains today. And so day by day.

It’s a kind of bokeh* that we’re all stuck in. Clarity is acquired only here and now: everything else is poisoned by the cataract of war.

I deliberately rhymed my work with Dima’s New Herbs series. After all, we grow through the darkest times and reach through all possible gaps into the future. No matter how vague and nebulous it is.

* — in photography, it is the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image.

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