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Unfolding Landscapes - Landscape and Poetics in Contemporary Ukrainian Art

42 Ukrainian artists or artist groups working in painting, drawing, sculpture, installation and video present more than 80 works in the captivating exhibition Unfolding Landscapes, which will be on display at the Museum of Art and History from 19 July 2022 to 19 September 2022. Most artists exhibited have experienced the transition from Soviet citizen to Ukrainian, and today experience how Russia is once again trying to control their country. This performance, put together before the full-scale war of aggression, shows how the artists relate to their culture and ever-changing landscape. The war gives Unfolding Landscapes an extra dimension: much of what is shown is under threat, as are the country's more than 44 million inhabitants.

IIn May 2022, the exhibition Unfolding Landscapes - Landscape and Poetics in Contemporary Ukrainian Art closed at the Silkeborg Bad Art Center in Denmark. The full-scale war unleashed by Russia prevented the works from returning to Ukraine, linking the fate of the Ukrainian artists to the tragedy of an entire people. In the heart of the European capital, the European External Action Service, the Museum of Art & History and Horizon 50/200 ASBL have joined forces to show this exhibition at the Brussels Museum of Art & History.

A unique paradigm of perception

Unfolding Landscapes celebrates Ukrainian visual art, exploring the landscape, topography, psycho- geography and culture of this unique country. Encompassing three generations of artists, the works reveal a unique paradigm of perception: of the nature of space and its boundaries and of the symbolic meanings of public and private spaces. Through this work we learn how the Ukrainian landscape is deployed and perceived; we gain insight into Ukrainian culture and infrastructure; and visit abstractions and observations of changing landscapes of both ancient and modern Ukraine. Curated before the tragic full-scale war broke out in February 2022, the exhibition documents a highly dynamic and flourishing Ukrainian art scene, and now offers reflection on a country and people changed once again through the tragedy of war.

We are now fighting for our culture

Curator and Art historian Natalia Matsenko (Kyiv, Ukraine) explains why it is so important that this show is on display today at the Museum of Art & History: "With this exhibition, we show the diversity of the Ukrainian landscape in both the literal and sociocultural sense. Now, in the conditions of a brutal full-scale war, for every Ukrainian the landscape is not just an environment or a view outside the window, it is a piece of their heart. And for each of these pieces, we are fighting desperately. Aligned with Ukraine's long-awaited EU candidateship, the presentation in Brussels feels particularly important. This is a sign of support from the international community and an opportunity to once again fix the European vector of our country, for which the first blood was shed 8 years ago and from which we will not turn back. We are now fighting for our culture. The language of culture is a universal language."

An opportunity to show the world this country and its people

Artist Elena Subach who also lives in Lviv, Ukraine points us to the extra layer the works have incorporated: "Before the military invasion in Ukraine, my project was just a lyrical dedication to the older generation. These days, the project represents another opportunity to show the world this country and its people, namely their beauty, uniqueness, and fragility. The full-scale war has destroyed all our lives. Sometimes I set aside an hour a day for crying, mourning, and just being afraid. But then I fall asleep and wake up angry. That anger gives me strength. Now everyone is working hard to help the country. Many of us are engaged in volunteering, collecting things and providing humanitarian aid, as well as accommodating displaced people in their homes. The ubiquitous feeling of love that emerges when one's world is crumbling down is rarely mentioned in the context of war. A compelling need to care for something truly important, protecting it - is one of the most powerful feelings that motivates Ukrainians today."

When Paul Dujardin, director of the newly founded non-profit organization Horizon 50/200 and Bruno Verbergt, director of the Museum of Art & History were contacted with the question of inviting the exhibition to Belgium, they did not hesitate. Connecting people, art and history in spaces of democratization, inclusion and multi-voicedness: that is the mission of the Museum of Art & History and of Horizon 50/200. This non-profit organization wants to develop the Cinquantenaire Park and its institutions into a lively agora with spaces for meeting and exchanges, a place where art and history enter into dialogue with science and technology, society and its many challenges. The initiative is supported by the European External Action Service (EEAS), which wishes to express its solidarity with Ukraine through international cultural relations.

Artists represented: Anna Bekerskaya (geb. 1987), Nazar Bilyk (geb. 1979), Katya Buchatska (geb. 1987), Hryhoriy Havrylenko (1927-84), Ksenia Hnylytska (geb. 1984), Oleksandr Hnylytskyi (1961-2009), Oleg Holosiy (1965-1993), Lucy Ivanova (geb. 1989), Zhanna Kadyrova (geb. 1981), Pavlo Kerestey (geb. 1962), Vitaliy Kokhan (geb. 1987 ), Alexey Kondakov (b.1984), Dana Kosmina (b.1990), Taras Kovach (b.1982), Mykola Kryvenko (b.1950), Anatoliy Kryvolap (b.1947), Katya Libkind (b.1991), Pavlo Makov (b.1958), Sasha Maslov (b.1984), Mykola Matsenko (b.1960), Yevgen Nikiforov (b.1986), Yuriy Pikul (b.1983 ), Julie Poly (b.1986), Georgiy Potopalskiy (b.1982), Vlada Ralko (b.1969), Stepan Ryabchenko (b.1987), Vasyl Ryabchenko (b.1954), Ruїns Collective (actieve groep 2017-21), Andriy Sahaidakovskyi (b.1957), Oleksiy Sai (b.1975), Yuri Solomko (b.1962), Marina Skugareva (b.1962 ), Tiberiy Silvashi (b.1947), Sergei Sviatchenko (b.1952), Elena Subach (b.1986) & Vyacheslav Poliakov (b.1986), Oleg Tistol (b.1960), Yuri Yefanov (b.1990), Lesia Zayats (b.1965), Viktor Zaretskyi (1925- 90), Anna Zvyagintseva (b.1986) en Alexander Zhyvotkov (b.1964).