PHILADELPHIA – Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity” brought together Ukrainians to stand on the Maidan united in their quest for freedom against the Russian-backed regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. Yet, the events quickly spiraled: peaceful protesters were beaten and murdered in cold-blood; Mr. Yanukovych fled to Moscow; Russia annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. This undeclared war in eastern Ukraine continues unabated, leaving thousands homeless, wounded or dead.
Kyiv artist Daria Marchenko spoke out against this aggression. She spoke through her artwork, expressing her outrage against the invasion of Ukraine, the loss of lives, the maiming of the innocent. In this undeclared brutal war waged by Russia, Ms. Marchenko saw only one face: the face of Vladimir Putin, the de facto dictator of Russia. She saw this former KGB officer as the person responsible for the brutality.
Ms. Marchenko then proceeded to show what the face of war looks like. She constructed a mosaic of 5,000 bullet shells that were collected from the battle zone. She used these shells to render the face of Mr. Putin – “The Face of War.”
This remarkable and monumental work of art, which stands almost eight feet tall has garnered widespread media attention, appearing in such outlets as the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, International Business News, the Associated Press, Reuters, NBC and ABC News, The Guardian, Die Welt and others.
Raymond Staples, an avid art collector and one of the most successful American entrepreneurs and investors in Central and Eastern Europe, saw a broadcast about the Maidan and Ms. Marchenko’s portrait of Mr. Putin and offered his patronage to the artist and her collaborator, artist Danylo Green.
Mr. Staples encouraged Ms. Marchenko to complete her series “The Five Elements of War.” “The Face of War” is the first in this series; the others are as unique as the first. Each art piece is constructed from debris recovered from the war zone in eastern Ukraine.
One of the “The Five Elements of War” is “The Eye of War,” which is constructed with barbed wire and bullets. Found in the iris of the eye is the Budapest Memorandum, a document signed in 1994 by Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, which guaranteed Ukraine its sovereignty and territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
In their artwork, Ms. Marchenko and Mr. Green have uniquely captured the brutality of war. A video demonstration of this piece can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UijRQOAQTNs.
The premier of the art exhibit “The Face of War” will take place in Chicago at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art on August 26. The exhibit will be on view through September.