A once peaceful, prosperous Ukraine has been faced with an unprecedented tragedy that could grow globally. This is what Ukrainian artist Olga Sabadin, an author of murals that decorate European cities wants to tell us today, using the language of art.
Olga first encountered the war in 2014 – that’s when the Russian Federation began aggressive actions in her home town in Donetsk region. ’Those events greatly influenced my work and mindset in general, made me feel my identity more sharply and reinforced my love for the Ukrainian language and culture,’ Olga says. Continuing and developing the traditions of the Ukrainian avant-garde of the early 20th century, the artist created murals in her native Kostiantynivka and other towns in the east of Ukraine, which were able to survive the neighboring state’s aggression.
But on February 24, 2022, with the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Olga’s life changed completely. Like other Ukrainians, she was awakened by explosions at 5 a.m. Olga’s boyfriend, a soldier, joined the army, and they haven’t seen each other since. Every day, the girl watched Russian missiles destroying cities, houses being ruined, and friends going missing. She could no longer sleep at night, neither could she continue painting…
In the end, creativity became Olga’s salvation. Friends invited her to Berlin, and a joint project with other artists was an opportunity for the artist to convey an important message to Europeans: one cannot close their eyes to what has been happening in Ukraine.
The central character of the artwork –
a girl who, having seized the most precious thing, her pets, flees abroad, and the caption under it says:’Never again.’ The statement, designed to warn against the inadmissible recurrence of World War II atrocities, was depicted by the artists with a question mark. It is a call to become aware that a tragedy similar to the global armed conflict of 1939-1945 is happening again. Ukrainians have taken the heat, but the disaster is able to affect any other nation. Russia’s peace is dangerous, it can destroy anyone’s home at any moment. Russia has decided to attack Ukraine now, but what will it decide tomorrow? That is why the people of Berlin and other cities of the world must become one family and do everything possible to restore peace.
Cultural code of Ukraine
Olga Sabadin’s next project was implemented in Switzerland. If Berlin’s artwork had originally been planned as a war-related mural, the Swiss wanted to emphasize a purely aesthetic aspect.
But of course, the topic of Olga’s homeland still remained her focus. Thus, a huge Ukrainian flag and a pattern reproducing embroidery on Ukrainian national clothes appeared on the walls of an art residence facility. Olga chose a traditional ornament originating in Donetsk region. A number of other recognizable symbols of Ukraine were depicted on another wall, against a colorful carpet of flowers: a pysanka (a painted Easter egg), a faceless motanka doll (an ancient toy that served as an amulet), and a rushnyk towel (embroidered linen that plays a significant role in many rituals). The brief explanations in English are intended to introduce Ukrainian culture to Europeans, and the call to save Ukraine and make the aggressor stop the war is designed to encourage donations, volunteering, and support for Ukrainian families.