169 BOWERY | NEW YORK
March 15 – April 29, 2023
Wednesday, March 15
Friday, March 17, 7pm
Artist talk with Lesia Khomenko and Dana Kavelina. Preceded by a screening of Dana Kavelina's: Why There Are No Monuments to Monuments (2021), 35 min
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Sunday, March 26, 7pm
Performance by Beam Splitter
Lesia Khomenko, Unidentified Figure 1, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 80.5 x 48in
Fridman Gallery is honored to present Full Scale, Ukrainian multidisciplinary artist Lesia Khomenko’s first solo exhibition in the United States.
After fleeing her war-torn home following the Russian invasion in February 2022, Khomenko began sourcing online images of Ukrainian soldiers’ selfies. Deliberately blurred and obscured to evade detection by Russian intelligence, these digital images have inspired a new series of large-scale paintings, titled Unidentified Figures, in which Khomenko takes the original images’ distortion and disguise as starting points of a new painterly language spanning figuration and abstraction. Coinciding with Full Scale, Khomenko will also be the subject of her first U.S. solo institutional exhibition at the Ukrainian Museum in New York from April 27 – September 2, 2023.
Through an application of muted colors and washed-out, non-referential drips, Khomenko loosely renders life-sized, uniformed, and armed bodies; their pixelated visages and forms not only obfuscate their identities, but also evoke the mutilation and disintegration of human bodies inherent to war. In some of the paintings, crucially, the bodies veer into superhuman, cyborg-like forms surviving and transcending monstrous atrocities. Accompanying the paintings is a series of sculptural assemblages composed of painted canvases rolled into shoes or gloves, resembling prosthetic limbs which so many young veterans of this brutal war already possess.
At the gallery’s entrance, the exhibition features a lightbox installation of the carbon paper portraits that Khomenko drew of protesters at the 2014 Maidan street uprisings in Kyiv, which sounded a rejection of the unjust, corrupt, and nepotistic post-Soviet politics and ultimately deposed the Russia-backed government. Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea and incursions into Donbass were ultimately followed by the February 24, 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Khomenko’s visual language is rooted in this political context, and in 20th Century Socialist Realism, with its monumental, chiseled depictions of peasants, factory workers, and soldiers.
Full Scale builds on records of the current war while revealing tools of visual manipulation and mythologizing. The exhibition asks: who gets to be the gate-keeper of historiography – whose version of events prevails? Can the transfigured body transcend catastrophe, paving the way to survival of our species? Can painting manifest the disembodied spirit that guides this transformation?
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), and Albertinum (DE).
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); We No Longer Feel the Future at MUZA-Eretz Israel Museum (IL); 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, and Frieze, among others.
Lesia Khomenko, Unidentified Figure 3, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48in
Lesia Khomenko, Unidentified Figure 6, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 58 x 82in
Lesia Khomenko, Unidentified Figure 7, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48in
Lesia Khomenko, Unidentified Figures 8, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48in