ganna kryvolap
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Ganna Kryvolap

On 24 February 2023 it will be one year since the morning the first missiles were fired at sleeping Ukrainian towns and the eight-year war has entered its hot phase. To mark the anniversary of the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, G.ART Gallery is preparing a large-scale exhibition in Berlin entitled “Hardened. The Ukrainian Phenomenon”, which will present the works of contemporary Ukrainian female artists. Ganna Kryvolap will present paintings on canvas. Ganna Kryvolap was born in Kyiv and studied art. Today she is one of the most successful contemporary Ukrainian painters, known for her expressive fauvistic paintings, close to the non-figurative. Her main themes are landscapes, views of cities, and Ukrainian traditions in a contemporary context.

February: Kyiv in danger 

The day before February 24, 2022, Ganna was in Lviv in western Ukraine, where a large exhibition of her works was taking place. An American friend informed her of Russia’s overnight attack on the phone. Ganna’s first task was to get her mother, the artist Zinaida Vasina, out of Kyiv – the flat was in the center of the capital and she was very afraid missiles would land right there. The women went first to western Ukraine and then to Montenegro, where Ganna Kryvolap’s children live and go to school. Montenegro became a welcoming refuge for three months.

painting ganna kryvolap kyiv unbreakable
Ganna Kryvolap “Kyiv unbreakable”

Art for Ukraine

After the first shock was over, Ganna began to think about how she, as one of the other contemporary artists, could tell the world about the war and help Ukraine. She held a large charity auction with Montenegrin artists in aid of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Her next project was organized with the National Museum of Montenegro – her paintings were replaced by anti-Russian and anti-war ones. Since her return to Ukraine, Ganna has continued to participate in various charity projects and contemporary art shows for the benefit of the Ukrainian military and civilians at home and abroad, for example in an auction exhibition during Berlin Art Week.

Cultural landing party

Back home in Kyiv, the artist began to create a series of portraits of cultural figures, artists, colleagues, and friends, who had left their careers during the war and devoted themselves to defending their homeland. The first in the series was a portrait of the dead battalion commander in which Ganna’s acquaintance had served, and later the idea emerged to record, and preserve for history and her memory, the faces of people who were on the front line of the war.

Unbreakable cities

The exhibition “Hardened. The Ukrainian Phenomenon” presents two works by Ganna Kryvolap from the series “Unbreakable Kyiv”, part of the project devoted to major Ukrainian cities. The pictures show Kyiv’s blackout: darkened streets, barely glimmering street lights, and silent windows… This situation in the town appeared after Russia started systematic shelling of the Ukrainian energy sources (hitting, though, everywhere – on October 10th a missile landed not far from Ganna’s mother’s house, on a busy crossroads of the city).

Ukraine is now desperate to save energy, many regions get barely half a day’s electricity and flats are lit with lanterns and candles. But Ganna believes: “You can take away electric light, but you can’t take away the inner light from human hearts and unbreakable cities”.

painting ganna kryvolap lviv unbreakable
Ganna Kryvolap “Lviv unbreakable”

Ribbons over Ukraine

Another work by Ganna at the exhibition belongs to the ‘Ribbons’ series. This series is dedicated to an ancient wedding tradition – girls used to tie brightly colored ribbons on the fence in memory of a happy day and make wishes. Colored silk ribbons are a significant symbol in Ukrainian folk culture, an essential element of traditional costume, amulet, and gift to the dearest. It is as if they flap in the wind over the suffering Ukraine at war, binding cities, homes, and souls. And promise that the darkness will end, and the happy day of Ukrainian victory is near.

painting ganna kryvolap ribbons
Ganna Kryvolap “Ribbons”

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