On 23rd February we were contacted by Ganna Lavrekha of The National Union of Artists of Ukraine. She was submitting an article about a gallery in Amsterdam that works with Ukrainian artists. Of course we were interested – that was a few days before Putin’s invasion of her county.
We have stayed in touch. Today, 28th February, she has contacted us from a bomb shelter in Kyiv, in fear of her life as the Russian troops get ever nearer. But she has managed to send us a short article about how artists there are reacting to the terrible situation and about the artist and political cartoonist Oleg Smile. She also sent us an appeal from The National Union of Artists of Ukraine.
We will keep in touch with Ganna for as long as possible and publish whatever she sends us. Here is her piece.
Ukraine: the Muses are not silent!
“When the cannons speak, the muses are silent”, in Latin “Inter arma silent Musae”, – this phrase was created on the basis of a quote from the speech of the Roman politician of the republican period, orator, philosopher, scientist Marcus Tullius Cicero (52BC). But in today’s Ukraine, the muses are not silent and the artists are not idle when the country is at the war and Russian ballistic missiles are bombing Ukrainian cities. After the first days of shock, many Kiev’s artists went to defend their city as part of territorial self-defense units, women art critics work in hospitals or help ambulance stations. Ukrainian artists who work in European countries give financial support to their Motherland.
The National Union of Artists of Ukraine addressed with a letter to people of the whole world:
Kyiv’s cartoonist, journalist of the popular weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnya, Oleg Smile, has been shouting to the world through his cartoons about the threat from Putin for many years. The artist works in different styles – from avant-garde to photo-realism.
The works of Oleg Smile are kept in museums around the world and in private collections, in particular, with Stanislav Lem, ex-president of Slovakia – Andriy Kiska, mufti of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Ukraine Said Ismagilov, ambassadors of the USA, Belgium, France, Germany in Ukraine. He is a Prize-winner and winner of about 40 international graphics competitions in Belgium, Romania, Ukraine, Iran, Italy, China, South Korea, Russia, France, Japan.
Oleg Smile is the holder of the world record for the amount of a lawsuit for a newspaper cartoon. One fine day, the court of the Shevchenko area of Kyiv registered a lawsuit based on his caricature in the amount of 120 billion hryvnias. He creates sculptures, paintings and book graphics, but, above all, he is known as a tough political cartoonist.
The main message of Oleg and all Ukrainians is – We are a peaceful people! STOP WAR! Ganna Lavrekha 28th February 2022
Ganna Lavrekha is an art critic, curator, art dealer and a member of The Union of Artists of Ukraine