Russia-Ukraine War Through the Eyes of Artists
How does war look through the eyes of artists? Three painters from Lithuania came to Stanytsia Luhanska to depict its transformation caused by five years of conflict
“This is the building of the burned-down school. The main school in Stanystia Luhanska burned down because of the bombings. One of the locals collects all of the burned roofing,” Lithuanian artist Vigantas Vejas said.
Vigantas paints the consequences of the war on the front line city of Stanytsia Luhanska. He’s been in Ukraine for a week now. He came from Vilnius to participate in the project. The artist says that, in January 1991, he took part in the events surrounding Lithuania’s secession from the Soviet Union. Now he decided to use his art to support a country that is fighting for its territorial integrity.
“Ukraine did not start this war. It did not instigate it, Ukraine is not the aggressor,” Vejas says.
Lithuanian painter, Greta, depicts the war through symbols in her paintings. For example, this clock represents how time has stopped in Stanytsia Luhanska.
“This painting has a lot of symbols and different characters. Time… a cat that lives here. The man – he is my love. The color red represents the trials that people face right now,” Lithuanian artist Greta Bernotajta says.
The ideological organizer of the project is Fedir – an artist from Kyiv. He invited friends from Lithuania to participate in a joint artistic project on the front lines. Three responded his call. In Ukraine, Fedir found two more like-minded people. Together, they painted for a week in Stanytsia Luhanska. They completed six large paintings and a dozen small ones. The project was financed by the Lithuanian Embassy.
“On the other bank of the Siversky Donets River, there is a very strange territory from which people are coming to Europe. And the question is ‘What awaits them here?’ Here in Europe. Because they are coming from a strange place over a broken bridge. Stanytsia Luhanska is the gate to Europe. This is the end of that world and the start of a new European world,” Kyivan artist Fedir Oleksandrovych says.
The artists live in a vacation complex. It was built just before the war. War has left its mark on every building here. Fedir says that he tried to convey this in his paintings.
“I was astonished by the bullet holes that are everywhere here, and the gashes from shrapnel. The gates that you go through when you pass Stanystia Luhanska have bullet holes that look like stars. Even the room where we live has a bullet hole in the window,” Oleksandrovych adds.
The works created by the artists will be exhibited in Lithuania and later in Ukraine.