PinchukArtCentre presented the works of Ukrainian artists at the YES forum

Presenting contemporary art is a characteristic feature of the YES forum, which has been accompanying various socio-political discussions with artistic works for more than 18 years. They not only visually support the forum’s narrative but also contribute to a deeper understanding of the topics discussed during the YES.
The works of the Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova, as well as works by Yana Kononova and Mstyslav Chernov, were presented at the 2023 forum.


Yana Kononova, Izium Forest
On 15 September 2022, mass graves were discovered near Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian forces. Rescue workers, together with investigative teams, uncovered the bodies and started the painstaking work of cataloguing how many Ukrainian men, women and children were killed, often finding proof of execution by the Russian occupiers.
This image freezes the act of uncovering. It captures the exhaustion and despair shared throughout the nation that follows one more gruesome discovery. It is a memory of those unnamed and undiscovered that are lost.
This work is a stark reminder of Russian war crimes taking place since the beginning of the war — both in Ukrainian held territory through constant missile attacks as well as behind enemy lines, in occupied territories, where each day Ukrainians are being killed, tortured or kidnapped only because they are Ukrainian.
Zhanna Kadyrova, Data Extraction
This is evidence of war.
On February 24th Russian forces made an attempt to occupy Kyiv in a matter of days. They came close, reaching the outskirts of the city, occupying neighbouring cities like Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel.
The abstract painting Data Extraction is actually a real piece of road from Irpin, taken shortly after its liberation. It’s a rectangular cutout of asphalt from Hostomelske highway, hit by a projectile during the battle of Kyiv. It’s an extracted scar from a now liberated city.
It serves as a memorial of the hardship and destruction that came with the Russian occupiers. But it also celebrates the heroism of soldiers and citizens alike defending and liberating their homes from the invaders.
Zhanna Kadyrova, Harmless War
A white cube, a minimalist form, an evidence of war.
Harmless War, premiered for the Austrian public, turns found bullet-ridden metal sheets into abstract sculptures. Painted in sterile white colour it ironically pleases Western taste, making the evidence of war less disturbing.
This work is Kadyrova’s critique of the attitude of some Western countries towards Ukraine, claiming to stand with it while at the same time trying to ignore the harsh reality the country has to deal with on a daily basis, and allowing Russian propaganda, protecting some of their interests.
Zhanna Kadyrova, Russian Rocket
Where Harmless War shows evidence of war, this piece, Russian Rocket, inserts a fictive Russian missile into the landscapes of countries the artist visits.
This real fake, that also exists as a social media project, brings an undeniable feeling of danger and implicit threat to each of those countries.
Russian Rocket voices the risks all countries face if Russia would be victorious and simultaneously implicates all those countries as stakeholders within this war.
Mstyslav Chernov, Kostiantynivka, Donetsk oblast, Ukraine, September 6, 2023
The Russian missile that struck on Wednesday in eastern Ukraine turned an outdoor market into a fiery, blackened ruin where weeping civilians looked for loved ones among the mangled, burned bodies scattered across the ground.
The blast in the town of Kostiantynivka killed at least 17 people and wounded at least 32 in one of Russia’s deadliest strikes in months, Ukrainian officials said.
“There was no military target here. This is a peaceful neighbourhood in the city centre”, Stefan Slovak, who lives in Kostiantynivka, said in a trembling voice. Behind him were the remnants of the market, where charred bodies could be seen in the street, their clothes still burning, near cars engulfed in flames. Behind a market stall holding fresh parsley, rescuers found a woman in civilian clothes with her head covered in blood.
Photographs provided by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation©2023. Photographed by Sergey Illin.