OLD LYME — “Art Under Siege,” a Ukrainian art exhibition and fundraiser, will hold its opening at the Sill House Gallery at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts on June 5 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The show is presented by resident Barbara Shriver, who collected more than fifty pieces of art, created from 1945 to 2001, during the time she and her husband, Dick, lived in Ukraine. Between 1990 to 2001, the Shrivers lived and worked in Ukraine — during the last days of Soviet Union rule and the 10 years following Ukraine’s independence.
“Unless they embraced the prescribed rules for official Soviet art, dissident artists were persecuted and harassed in various ways, including being prevented from purchasing essential materials such as paints and canvases,” Barbara Shriver said a release.
She said that many artists — most of whom trained at the Kyiv Art Institute —were not allowed to travel outside Ukraine but they were very much aware of the art world outside of Ukraine.
“To me, much of this art reflects the impact of the form of government on how artists paint. Those paintings made under Soviet tyranny are quite different from paintings produced in an independent Ukraine,” said Shriver.
Artists highlighted in the exhibition include Victor Zaretsky, a figure of Ukrainian Socialist Realism and Soviet Nonconformist Art who was influenced by Gustav Klimt. He and his wife, Alla Horska, were one of the “Sixtiers,” a group of dissident painters, poets and writers in the 1960s who advocated for Ukrainian culture and refused to let their artworks serve the Soviet Union.
Also included are works by Mishnovskiy, from L’viv in Western Ukraine, who was known as the self-styled “Andy Warhol of Ukraine.”
The show includes a number of portraits and landscapes from Crimea to Kyiv, created from 1945 to 1990. The exhibit also includes woodworking pieces, painted eggs, fabrics and handmade jewelry.
Shriver said an important part of the show’s purpose is to convey an understanding of how the Russians are perceived by the Ukrainians.
“People always say Russians say [Ukrainians are] their little brothers. But the Ukrainian say 300 years of oppression is enough — and those are quotes directly from Ukrainians,” Shriver told CT Examiner.
Paintings range from $300 to $5000 and memorabilia range from $5.00 to $100.00. Two-thirds of the proceeds from sale of artwork will be contributed to Ukrainian charities including the Ukrainian Catholic University (based in L’viv, Ukraine) and its program for refugees from the war, and the Boyarsky Orphanage of 88 small children that was forced to flee the Kyiv region earlier this year, and relocated to Utsk, Poland, according to a release.
The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts has donated the gallery space and its share of the proceeds from sold artwork.
“Art Under Siege”
Opening: June 5, 2 to 4 p.m.
Exhibition: June 8 – 19, Wed. – Sun, 12 to 4 p.m.
Sill House Gallery at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts
84 Lyme St., Old Lyme, CT