An emotionally raw show has opened at The Museum of Russian Art. It’s called ‘Ukraine Defiant‘ and it features paintings by the Ukrainian-born, Connecticut-based artist, architect, and poet Elena Kalman. Each of the 12 mixed media works is eight feet long and most take their names from a poem Kalman composed:
Ukraine invaded, bloodied, trampled and burned
Her fields are plowed with bombs and sown with bones
Her mothers weep, her sky is overcast
She dreams of the future, and she dreams of the past
Her children torn away, uprooted, lost
She fights in spite of pain, in spite of cost
Her enemies predict defeat and doom
But she will win, will live again and bloom!
Though Kalman immigrated to the United States in 1979, she went to art school in Kyiv and earned her architecture degree in Moscow. She began painting the series on February 24, 2022, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. One picture, titled “Plunged into Darkness,” depicts a bombed-out Ukrainian city that has lost its electrical power, with only the moon to survey its devastation. Another work, named “After the Storm,” depicts a tank abandoned in a field with a rainbow rising above it. The pieces, like the poem, are as hopeful as they are sad.
Catch the show now through July 15, along with ‘Premonition of a Russian Dystopia,’ an unnervingly prescient exhibition of works by artist Geli Korzhev.
The Museum of Russian Art
5500 Stevens Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-821-9045.