Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now, which opens on the 9th of October, will take over one entire floor of the Saatchi Gallery and features work that has been made recently, but mostly pre-dates the social unrest and upheaval that Ukraine has experienced during 2014. However, the title acknowledges that since the early years of the new millennium, the work of many Ukrainian artists has tended to reflect, or even predict in an uncanny way, the growing challenges, issues and questions concerning their nation's future identity and stability.
The exhibition showcases an exciting group of 38 artists who are relatively unknown outside their homeland. Some of the artists featured in this exhibition have established reputations in Ukraine, while others are recent graduates. The work of these two generations of artists provides an arresting insight into the future of contemporary art in Ukraine and is set to play a key role in shaping our understanding of the culturally rich but complex environment in which they practice their art. The exhibition has been organised by The Firtash Foundation as part of Days of Ukraine in the UK, a celebration of contemporary and traditional Ukrainian art, fashion, literature and music.
Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now forms the largest survey to date of Ukrainian contemporary art in the UK. It is the third in a series of exhibitions at the Gallery aimed at showcasing Ukraine's unique culture and heritage to an international audience in London and is part of a long-term partnership between the Saatchi Gallery and the Firtash Foundation announced in July 2014.
Kids Fighting Friend by Pavlo Kerestey. Courtesy Saatchi Gallery and the artist.
For example, in the unnerving painting by Pavlo Kerestey Kids Fighting Friend, shown above, the artist foresaw when neighbours will fight against neighbours in the current conflict in easthern Ukraine. The main scene dominated by blind rage and encouragement of the others ends in aggression towards someone who was a friend in previous times. The action lighted by fire adds drama and portrays pure madness.
The exhibition has been co-curated by Marina Shcherbenko, Igor Abramovych, Oleksandr Soloviov and Andriy Sydorenko with advice from Vladyslav Tuzov and Natalia Shpitkovskaya at the Modern Art Research Institute and National Academy of Arts of Ukraine.
Lada Firtash, Chairman of the Firtash Foundation, said:
"The amazing success of the exhibition of contemporary Ukrainian art held as part of the Days of Ukraine in the UK last year provided striking confirmation of the immense potential of Ukrainian art today. Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now is probably the largest and most profound collection of works by Ukrainian artists to date and the works in the show demonstrate many aspects of life in contemporary Ukraine, its spirit, energy and essence. We anticipate that the exhibition will enable the world to understand and appreciate Ukraine's creative potential."
Nigel Hurst, Chief Executive of the Saatchi Gallery, commented:
"The Saatchi Gallery's role is to bring contemporary art to the widest possible audience and make it accessible, wherever it is being made. The ongoing support of the Firtash Foundation allows us to work towards this aim by helping us to provide a high profile platform to bring new Ukrainian art to the attention of our international visitors. Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now presents a wonderful opportunity to provide a showcase for this exciting group of artists who are exhibiting their work together for the first time."
Guardians by Xavier Mascaró. Courtesy Saatchi Gallery and the artist.
Within an era of unrest and profound changes, the Spanish artist Xavier Mascaró, presents Guardians at the entrance of the Saatchi Gallery. Mascaró assembles pieces of iron to create the figures as an empire grabs pieces of land to expand its territory. Fiercely joint together but bound to scatter away at some point. Still and timeless guardians of an obsolete geopolitical system in the times of internet and powerful city-states. Empires and its power are doomed to diminish and collapse. Majestic watchers of time passing by. Mascaró, like the artists in Ukraine, senses rapid changes that are taking place in our society and transmits those findings visually. Be it a sculpture, an installation or paintings and drawings.
Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now features Nazar Bilyk, Sergey Bratkov, Danyil Galkin, GAZ, Mykyta Kadan, Zhanna Kadyrova, Pavlo Kerestey, Mariia Kulikovska, Anton Logov, Pavlo Makov, Maxim Mamsikov, Mykola Matsenko, Roman Minin, Natsprom, Serhiy Petlyuk, Yuriy Pikul, Roman Pyatkovka, Vlada Ralko, Vinny Reunov, Oleksandr Roitburd, Stepan Ryabchenko, Arsen Savadov, Oleksiy Say, Tiberiy Silvashi, Yuriy Solomko, Anna Sorokovaya, Anatol Stepanenko, Ivan Svitlichny, Victor Sydorenko, Maryna Talutto, Ten Point & Dis/Order, Oleg Tistol, Vasyl Tsagolov, Myroslav Vayda, Artem Volokitin, Oleksandr Zhyvotkov, Gamlet Zinkivskiy.
Premonition: Ukrainian Art Now opens on the 9th of October until the 3rd of November.
Xavier Mascaró Guardians will be on display until the 2nd of November.