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Unfolding Landscapes – Landscape and Poetics in Contemporary Ukrainian Art at the Art & History Museum in Brussels


Main photo: Stepan Ryabchenko “Unfolding Landscapes”

A unique collaboration between the European External Action Service, the Museum of Art and History and Horizon 50/200 asbl brings this impressive exhibition to Brussels.

42 Ukrainian artists or artist groups working in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, installation and video present more than 80 works in the captivating exhibition Unfolding Landscapes, which will be on display at the Museum of Art and History from 19 July 2022 to 19 September 2022. Most artists have experienced the transition from Soviet citizen to Ukrainian, and today experience how Russia is once again trying to control their country. This performance, put together before war of aggression, shows how the artists relate to their culture and ever-changing landscape. The war gives Unfolding Landscapes an extra dimension: much of what is shown is under threat, as are the country’s more than 44 million inhabitants.

May 2022. The exhibition Unfolding Landscapes – Landscape and Poetics in Contemporary Ukrainian Art closes at the Silkeborg Bad Art Centre in Denmark. The war unleashed by Russia prevents the works from returning to Ukraine, linking the fate of Ukrainian artists to the tragedy of an entire people. In the heart of the European capital, the European External Action Service, the Museum of Art and History and Horizon 50/200 asbl have joined forces to show this exhibition at the Brussels Museum of Art and History.

Fragment of the Unfolding Landscapes exhibition

Unfolding Landscapes celebrates Ukrainian visual art, exploring landscape, topography, psycho-geography and culture of this unique country. Encompassing three generations of artists, the works reveal a unique paradigm of perception: of the nature of space and its boundaries and of the symbolic meanings of public and private spaces. Through their work we learn how the Ukrainian landscape is deployed and perceived; gain insight into Ukrainians culture and infrastructure; and visit abstractions and observations of a changing landscapes of both ancient and modern Ukraine. Curated before the tragic war broke out in February 2022, the exhibition documents a highly dynamic and flourishing Ukrainian art scene, and now offers reflection on a country and people now changed once again through the tragedy of war.

Works by Pavel Makov and Vasiliy Ryabchenko

Co-curator and Art historian Natalia Matsenko (Kyiv, Ukraine) explains why it is so important that this show is on display today at the Museum of Art and History: “With this exhibition, we want to show the diversity of the Ukrainian landscape in both the literal and sociocultural sense, and the scope of its vision by Ukrainian artists of different generations. Now, in the conditions of a brutal full-scale war, for every Ukrainian the landscape is not just an environment or a view outside the window, it is a piece of the heart. And for each of these pieces, we are fighting desperately. Aligned with Ukraine’s long-awaited EU candidateship, the presentation in Brussels feels particularly important. This is a sign of support from the international community and an opportunity to once again fix the European vector of our country, for which the first blood was shed 8 years ago and from which we will not turn back. We are now fighting for our culture. The language of culture is a universal language”.

Works by Andriy Sagaidakovsky
Works by Tiberiy Silvashi

When Paul Dujardin, director of the newly founded non-profit organisation Horizon 50/200 and Bruno Verbergt, director of the Museum of Art and History were contacted with the question of inviting the exhibition to Belgium, they did not hesitate: “Connecting people, art and history in spaces of democratisation, inclusion and multi-voicedness: that is the mission of the Museum of Art and History and of Horizon 50/200. This non-profit organisation wants to develop the Cinquantenaire Park and its institutions into a lively agora with spaces for meeting and exchange, a place where art and history enter into dialogue with science and technology, society and its many challenges. The initiative is supported by the European External Action Service (EEAS), which wishes to express its solidarity with Ukraine through international cultural relations.

Works by Sergei Sviatchenko

Artists represented: Anna Bekerskaya (geb. 1987), Nazar Bilyk (b. 1979), Katya Buchatska (b. 1987), Hryhoriy Havrylenko (1927-84), Ksenia Hnylytska (geb. 1984), Oleksandr Hnylytskyi (1961-2009), Oleg Holosiy (1965-1993), Lucy Ivanova (b. 1989), Zhanna Kadyrova (geb. 1981), Pavlo Kerestey (b. 1962), Vitaliy Kokhan (b. 1987 ), Alexey Kondakov (b.1984), Dana Kosmina (b.1990), Taras Kovach (b.1982), Mykola Kryvenko (b.1950), Anatoliy Kryvolap (b.1947), Katya Libkind (b.1991), Pavlo Makov (b.1958), Sasha Maslov (b.1984), Mykola Matsenko (b.1960), Yevgen Nikiforov (b.1986), Yuriy Pikul (b.1983 ), Julie Poly (b.1986), Georgiy Potopalskiy (b.1982), Vlada Ralko (b.1969), Stepan Ryabchenko (b.1987), Vasiliy Ryabchenko (b.1954), Ruїns Collective (actieve groep 2017-21), Andriy Sahaidakovskyi (b.1957), Oleksiy Sai (b.1975), Yuri Solomko (b.1962), Marina Skugareva (b.1962 ), Tiberiy Silvashi (b.1947), Sergei Sviatchenko (b.1952), Elena Subach (b.1986) & Vyacheslav Poliakov (b.1986), Oleg Tistol (b.1960), Yuri Yefanov (b.1990), Lesia Zayats (b.1965), Viktor Zaretskyi (1925-90), Anna Zvyagintseva (b.1986) en Alexander Zhyvotkov (b.1964).

Art & History Museum Brussels

Unfolding Landscapes team:

Exhibition Curators: Faye Dowling (United Kingdom), Natalia Matsenko (Ukraine)

Creative Director: Sergei Sviatchenko (Denmark/Ukraine)

Commissioner: Iben From (KunstCentret/Art Centre Silkeborg Bad, Denmark)