ksenia daitsuk
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Ksenia Datsiuk

On 24 February 2022, the first Russian missiles landed on sleeping Ukrainian cities and the eight-year war entered its hot phase. G.ART Gallery is preparing a large-scale exhibition in Berlin to commemorate the anniversary of the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation: “Hardened. The Ukrainian Phenomenon”. Eleven contemporary Ukrainian artists will be showing their work there. Ksenia Datsiuk will present paintings on canvas.

Ksenia Datsiuk was born in Lviv and studied art in Kyiv. Today she is one of the most promising Ukrainian contemporary painters. She works in various painting and decorative techniques and is actively involved in exhibition projects. The main theme of her work is the discovery of femininity through corporeality and emotion.

 February: rockets and pencils

On the night of February 24, 2022 Ksenia woke up in a flat in central Kyiv before the first Russian missiles had even arrived and heard muffled explosions. She read the news and realised that the worst had begun and all creative and life plans were broken.

Near the ceramic studio where Ksenia’s newly created works were located, a piece of rocket was lying on the ground. After the initial shock, the artist realised that a new reality had begun. On the second day she left for her native Lviv, where she stayed for two months. All she took with her was an album, pencils and gouache, not realising at first whether she wanted to paint or not. But soon she began to create a series of “diaries” – an almost automatic recording of events, portraits of people around her, of inner states.

painting ksenia datsiuk lilac
Ksenia Datsiuk “Lilac”

Evacuation: work saved

Ksenia did not want to leave Lviv for abroad, believing that the city in western Ukraine was safe. But in Ukraine she had no conditions for living and working, while in Vienna, where Ksenia was persistently invited, a spacious studio, where she could comfortably paint on large canvases, was waiting for her. That was how the artist found herself abroad, but she never stopped being part of the contemporary Ukrainian art culture. Her work saved her, kept her alert and distracted her from dreadful thoughts. Like other famous Ukrainian artists who took part in creative residencies, Ksenia created her own projects and also conducted workshops for Ukrainian refugee children.

“I draw women without faces”

Ksenia Datsiuk often uses herself as a model, drawing self-portraits and her body. The project presented at “Hardened. The Ukrainian Phenomenon”, is also quite intimate, but the demonstration of her own self was not an end in itself for the artist. “I draw women without faces”, says Ksenia, “because I don’t want to personalise them. Even when posing myself, I try to create a conventional image”. The artist calls her works “states”, their main subject being the inner state of a person. During 2022 Ksenia has found a particularly effective visualization, her works with nude female figures, outwardly calm and static, are filled with tense emotionality.

painting ksenia datsiuk the space
Ksenia Datsiuk “The space”

Exiles from paradise

Ksenia’s paired paintings ” Human” and “Rainbow Eve” are allusions to the biblical Adam and Eve. They were created while working on the theme “Expulsion from paradise”, which is based on the events of 2022, the confusion of Ukrainian refugees, who rushed from their small paradise into the unknown. In an instant people lost their homes, families and comfortable lives and found themselves existentially naked, defenseless and desperate.

These works are very restrained in colour, almost monochrome. “Adam” walks into blackness and the unknown, not knowing what is there: infinity? new possibilities? What that man finds beyond the dark horizon depends only on who he is. And “Eve” – look at the timid glimmers of colour on her marble white skin – seems to be illuminated by a rainbow. In the Bible, the rainbow symbolises the reconciliation of people with God, and for Ksenia it has become a symbol of finding inner peace, of accepting the situation in which you find yourself and the possibility of moving forward.

painting ksenia datsiuk rainbow eve
Ksenia Datsiuk “Rainbow eve”

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