The article in Ukrainian: Kyiv Non Objective: Україна на передовій
Opening of the exhibition-presentation «0/1» of the international artist-run organization – «KNO | Kyiv Non Objective» was held on 22 September. This is the project that presents Ukraine, the homeland of Malevich, as a new arena for contemporary art. The exhibition features works by artists from Ukraine, Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia whose artistic practice related to the direction of non-objective art. Lines, squares, non-existent figurative drawings are born under the strict-philosophical view of the artists and lead to the «question-answer» problematic through the context of eternity.
«Kyiv Non Objective» is the artistic organization founded by Ukrainian artists Tiberiy Szilvashi, Badri Ghubianuri, Elena Dombrovska and Serhiy Popov in 2017. Some of the artists already belonged to earlier assossiations such as «The Picturesque Reserve» in the early 90’s and «Alliance 22» (2012-2015). The artists dedicated their activities to the development of Ukrainian non-objective art tradition, new strategies and a platform for experiments and communication. This time artists from Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia expressed their interest in the ideas of Ukrainian colleagues. At the opening there are absolutely fantastic Billi Gruner, Sara Keighery, Wahida Azhari and Roland Orépük. Conversation with each of them can go on forever as well as contemplation of their works. They are really admirable and not only because of their look at art but because of their views in general.
The first artist I met was Billy Gruner from Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of SNO – «Sydney Non Objective». The artist is impressed by Kyiv and sees in Ukraine a strong position for the development of artistic activity. Very enthusiastic and ready for a long and substantial conversation Billy starts telling the story of his long-lasting path of struggle for non-objective art in his homeland: «In Australia art like this hasn’t been accepted for a long time, it irritated people. In Ukraine the situation is much simpler. You may organize an exhibition that will be visited by only one person and still it won’t be so bad. The scale – that also makes the difference.» During the dialogue Billy draws my attention to the one of the biggest paintings which covers the entire wall (the work of Oliver Mosset, the United States): “This one is quite old. The first time it was created was in 1979. Each time you wish to exhibit this work you have to buy the right to recreate it.’ Only now I can see that it’s just painted on the wall. «Oliver Mosset gave the right to Ukraine for free since he was eager to participate in the exhibition.»
Still on the subject, I finally ask:
-If I understand correctly, non-objective art breaks with traditional contemporary art?
Exactly. This is a completely different niche. We extend beyond the limits of contemporary art which offers incomprehensible standards, a cheap epatage for crazy money. We aim to get rid of gallerist-millionaires who come and set their own playing fields. We seek to reconstruct the language of art which allows a pure dialogue to exist.
— What kind of dialogue? Dialogue between man and art?
First, we need a pure dialogue between artists. You know, there is such a word «coterie» (Now I know. Literally it can be translated as ‘circle’.), it perfectly illustrates the society composed of artists and intellectuals who do not necessarily share the same style or thinking but who wish to show their support of non-objective art. These people may not become true friends but they will always respect each other.
Billy’s sister arrived from London to visit the exhibition. She stops nearby to say very important words: “Kyiv is really fantastic. I have visited many countries and cities and mostly everything is so strict there. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. You can’t send your child to this school, you can’t put your car there. Kyiv is not a lawless city but you can breath freely here. And what’s more! People. They are very optimistic. They don’t give up and don’t ask to feel sorry them. You’ve got great potential, rest assured.»
Australians the whole evening shared their impressions of Kyiv. They had time to walk around the city through the length and breadth and lose not a second to praise its streets and ancient buildings. But the special impression was left by the rests of soviet buildings in style of constructivism.
The next conversation I have with Wahida Azhari, from Germany. She talks about her artistic practice which is closely intertwined with philosophy and religion. Wahida describes a new vision of space, correlation of forms, emptiness. The main question for the artist is the dichotomy of «All and Nothing».
My art is a study of the relationships between space, emptiness and form. It is the essence of this involvement that inspires my work.
— Your concept is very much in sync with philosophy. How did you come up with that?
Unconsciously. I didn’t read the works of philosophers. And I didn’t know about non-objective art. I had fantastic teachers. I did common landscapes, portraits. One of the teachers was viewing my works and pulled out a sheet with very simple drawings, lines and hatches. He said: “This is you.” Later I saw the works of Malevich. I was in awe, I love Malevich. But my path to non-objective art started before I became familiar with his oeuvre.
— What do you think, people who are not aware of your concept, how can they get the idea you put in your works?
I help them. I have a big studio in Germany. There are completely white walls. And nothing else. Maybe, one painting hangs. This way I give instruction to people, I put them in my place, the place of an artist who plans an exhibition. Sometimes they get scared of space and emptiness and leave quickly. But if they stay, after a while they understand my message.
— This applies to an empty space, to silence. Is it possible to achieve the same result when a room is filled with people and sounds?
You’re right, this is more difficult. In this case, a person has to be ready to contemplate in spite of the turmoil.
The exhibition had come to an end. However, the artists continue the discussion and plan another large event in autumn, 2018. There is a lot of work to do but thanks to the support, mutual understanding and energy that the artists share with each other everything becomes possible. Ukraine has much to say.
Many thanks to : Billy Gruner(AU), Sarah Keighery(AU), Suzan Shutan (US), Olivier Mosset (US), Kyle Jenkins (AU), Peter Holm (DK), Richard van der Aa (NZ), Guido Winkler (NL), Tilman Hoepfl (DE,US,FR), Deb Covell (UK), Roland Orépük (FR), Iemke van Dijk (NL), Werner Windisch (DE), Kevin Finklea (US), Wahida Azhari (DE), Hartmut Boehm(DE), Turi Simeti (IT), Tiberiy Szilvashi (UA), Badri GubiaNuri (UA), Marta Vashchuk (UA), Dombrovska Elena (UA), Yura Pikul (UA) and Serhiy Popov (UA).
Photos by Daria