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On the cover
Ļ7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidanís three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countryís stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard Ė and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


On the Sofa with...

Dissident artist Mykola Zalevsky

One of Ukraineís leading young artists in the 1970s and 1980s, Mykola Zalevsky was nonetheless known only to a handful of people, as the painterís hyper-realistic style forced him to go underground with his works. Having immigrated to America in the early 1990s, Zalevsky returned to Kyiv to open his ĎI Rememberí collection in Kyiv, the first time his works have been displayed officially in the Ukrainian capital.

Though Kyiv born and breed, Mykola Zalevskyís current exhibition at Collection gallery is the first time his works have been officially displayed in the Ukrainian capital. One of Ukraineís rising talents in the 1970s, Zalevsky was forced to showcase his paintings in private apartments, his surreal and subversive works being the very antithesis of the state sanctioned Socialist Realism. Back in the USSR bucking established artistic trends had little to do with the acts of the preening poseurs who make up todayís avant-garde; it was a serious and at times dangerous business, as Zalevsky explains; ďThere were cases of Ďhome exhibitionsí in Moscow and St. Petersburg being raided by the KGB, with the artists being arrested. Because of this our circle made the conscious decision not to exhibit works which were overtly anti-Soviet or pornographic. Even still, the fear of arrest was very real.Ē

 Having studied graphic design at Lviv Polytechnic University, Zalevsky moved back to Kyiv to continue his education and begin his artistic career. He began as a book illustrator, which included the obligatory Soviet propaganda publications which the painter now describes as Ďshameful.í Able only to exhibit in the underground art scene, Zalevsky jumped at the opportunity to move to America when his brother called him up from the States and invited him over. It was the late 1980s and it wasnít until 1992 that Mykola had acquired all the right documents to make the jump West. Before setting up his own business in the fabulously wealthy West Hartford, Connecticut, which allows him to spend at least a couple of months per year in his native Kyiv, Zalevsky earned money anyway he could, working as an artistís model and a cleaner. In many respects Zalevsky is something of a dilettante; the artist was never a dissident for being a dissidentís sake; he simply wanted to explore hyper-realism and other genres consider decadent by the regime, there were no such ambitions to bring communism crashing down through his paintings. Unlike many Ukrainian and Russian artists who couldnít wait to get out of the USSR only to immediately cash-in for the craze in Soviet and Russian iconography which swept the West in the 1990s, Zalevsky has stayed true to the genres which have always fascinated him, working under the idea of Ďart for arts sake.í ďEach piece takes between one to two years to complete. I donít really want to sell my works in the US, and worry about what will happen to them when they pass into the hands of other people, but that thatís all part of the game when you exhibit in a galleryĒ explains Zalevsky.

Aspects of the motherland can be detected in many of Zalevskyís works, even if they do not deal exclusively with Kyiv. Look closely, and one can find a courtyard here and a stairwell there, the details of which are quintessentially Kyiv. Symbolism is a core component of the former underground artistís works; an example of this is his take on Dutch still life, which includes a bottle of Heineken and perhaps, in a nod to his homeland, a potato. A severed thumb on the sideboard provides the touch of menacing oddness which Dali or Breton would have been proud off. Despite having opposed its stance on art, the Soviet UNI0N can be detected in the works of Zalevsky by those who know how to look for it, and when he talks of Kyiv, it is obvious that the artist is reminiscing about those daredevil days of the 1970s, when the avant-garde was truly worthy of that name.

 Yulia Volfovska

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnít Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer≠sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they donít understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street Ė the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades Ė childrenís favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whatís On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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