Lesia Khomenko. Solo Project at Voloshyn Gallery, Art Cologne 2023

At last year’s Art Cologne, Ukrainian artist Lesia Khomenko had a solo presentation with Voloshyn Gallery. Lesia Khomenko’s artistic approach involves a reevaluation of the role of painting: she deconstructs narrative images and transforms paintings into objects, installations, and performances. The new works, created specifically for Art Cologne, including “Nomadic Self- Portrait With Rolled Canvas” and “Explosion in the trench,” reflect Khomenko’s personal experience of life in the early stages of war, evacuation, later migration, and her observations of the war in real-time.

Lesia Khomenko. Solo Project at Voloshyn Gallery, Art Cologne 2023. Cologne (Germany), November 19, 2023.

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Exhibition text (excerpt):

Recently, Lesia has focused on the role of digital photographs in the context of media warfare and the connection between the development of digital archives and the materiality of painting. The works “Explosion in the trench” capture moments of explosions emerging from the chaos of war in cyberspace and quote frames of military actions available on the Internet. Working with photographs found online, Lesia explores contemporary images of the war in Ukraine. Using specific cutting-edge military technologies that help reshape our perspective on war, the human body, and the landscape, the artist reveals the potential of abstract images in hyperrealistic resources such as soldiers’ video cameras or drone photography.

These works resonate with her earlier pieces, where Khomenko abstractly depicted unrecognizable armed figures, explored the protective techniques of blurring and camouflaging strategic objects, landscapes, and military faces in photographs from the front lines.

To begin with, Lesia drew inspiration from photos taken by her husband, who is currently serving in the army. During wartime, photographing soldiers and military objects is prohibited. Therefore, the artist believes that utility photography has turned into a weapon. Lesia works with the idea of dehumanization as the “new normalcy,” using her digital photo archive with war scenes. The result of this exploration is the important series “Max in the Army,” which has become the focus of discussions and attention from global media.

The series of self-portraits on bifleks, “Nomadic Self-Portrait With Rolled Canvas,” is dedicated to exploring and reflecting the dynamism and constant change of identity. Each self-portrait in the series presents itself in a nomadic context, where individuality is defined not so much by a fixed outline as by unpredictable interaction with the surrounding environment.

The use of acrylic on lycra creates a unique effect of movement and variability, reflecting the artist’s inspiration in the undefined reality of nomadic existence. The completed work appears as a self-portrait that carries a rolled canvas, indicating the continuous development and transformation of the artist’s inner self. This series aims to explore concepts of identity, adaptation, and uncertainty through the use of unexpected materials and techniques. Each canvas is a self-portrait illustrating the continuous search for oneself in an ever-changing world.

About the Artist:

Lesia Khomenko (b. 1980, Kyiv, Ukraine) is a member of R.E.P. group (Revolutionary Experimental Space), and a co-founder of a curatorial union HUDRADA, a self-educational community based on interdisciplinary cooperation. Khomenko showed thrice in the PinchukArtCentre Prize (2009, 2011, 2013), the nationwide contemporary art prize for young Ukrainian artists. Her work forms part of collections both public and private, including M HKA (BEL), Ludwig Museum, (HU), Art Collection Telecom (DE), Ukrainian Museum of America (US) and Albertinum (DE). Recent solo exhibitions include: Image and Presence,

Ukrainian Museum of America, NYC (US), Full Scale, Fridman Gallery, NYC (US). Recent group exhibitions include: This is Ukraine: Defending Freedom, the Collateral Event of the 59th International Art Exhibition the Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy; Imagine Ukraine at The European Parliament (BE); What is Depicted Here? at Museum Folkwang (DE); Women at War at Fridman Gallery, NYC (US); Worth Fighting For at Art Cologne (DE). Khomenko’s works have been covered and reviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Art Newspaper, Brooklyn Rail and Frieze, among others. Lives in New York.

About Voloshyn Gallery:

Established in October 2016 by Max and Julia Voloshyn, Voloshyn Gallery specializes in contemporary art. It exhibits a broad range of works in a variety of media, hosting solo and group exhibitions and taking part in leading contemporary art fairs. Over the last two years, the gallery has participated in The Armory Show, Liste Basel, ARCOmadrid, Art Brussels, Art Cologne, Enter Art Fair, viennacontemporary, Dallas Art Fair, NADA Miami, Untitled Art, Art Athina, EXPO Chicago, and more. Voloshyn Gallery is a member of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA). In 2023, Voloshyn Gallery opened its new space in Miami, FL, US.

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