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Do., 29. Feb.

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SERPEN' Gallery

Place of strength. Access is restricted

Valeria Troubina Oleh Tistol

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Place of strength. Access is restricted
Place of strength. Access is restricted

Time & Location

29. Feb. 2024, 19:00

SERPEN' Gallery, Auguststraße 83, 10117 Berlin-Mitte, Germany

About the Event

"Place of Strength. Access Restricted" is a painting project by Ukrainian artists Oleh Tistol and Valeria Troubina presented at Serpen Gallery in Berlin. Everyone has their own place of strength. Along with the war, though, this concept changed dramatically for Ukrainians. For some, a place of strength is their parents' home, filled with happy childhood memories. For others, it is the places they have been to on their travels that have given them a sense of fulfilment and happiness. Sadly, many of our favourite places are no longer accessible due to Russian aggression.

Over the past 10 years, millions of Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes and have been unable to visit their parents' graves in the occupied Crimea, Luhansk and Donbass regions. Entire cities, important cultural sites and villages have been destroyed. The war has made it impossible to move freely within the country or abroad. The dreamed-of personal places of strength around the world remain inaccessible. Ukrainian men are fighting for freedom on the battlefield without permission to travel abroad. Women have no time to travel, and some are even living under occupation, hostage to the circumstances they are subjected to.

In difficult times it is important to find support within. Places of strength emerge from our memories and dreams, fill us with peace, inspire us and give us hope. 

Oleh Tistol refers to his memories of Ukrainian Crimea, which is closely linked to the artist's creative biography. It was in Crimea that he began a series of works depicting a palm tree, which in the global art scene has become a recognisable symbol of his work. A symbol of heaven on earth for Tistol, palm trees have taken on a special dramatic quality since Crimea's annexation. A bitter note of nostalgia accompanies the dream of now unattainable Crimean palms. The artist declares the palm tree the national tree of Ukraine.

The exhibition also features paintings by Oleh Tistol from the series "Ai Petri", which the artist created in 2022-2023 while living in Kyiv. Each depicted  "mountain" of the series is a self-portrait in which Tistol expresses himself, conveying personal experiences and feelings: "The artist creates a template, which he fills with his own state of emotions and experiences to the backdrop sound of air-raid alarms. The new ‘mountain’ that emerges from under the brush reflects the very moment that the artist is living. An empathetic viewer can feel like he or she is standing behind the artist's shoulder in the studio, quietly becoming witness to his confession,“ comments the exhibition's co-curator Marianna Dzhulai.

“Ai-petri marks the conclusive point in the topography of the Russian war on Ukraine” proclaims Oleh Tistol. Living in Kyiv and painting almost every day in the middle of the war, the artist creates his own personal ritual of victory approaching.

Valeria Troubina’s experiences and insights gathered whilst travelling Hawaii continue to provide solace and help. Living there for several years, Trubyna spent much time studying the local flavour of the exotic islands and observed a lifestyle full of love and respect for nature. Having experienced a catharsis of her own, Valeriia conveys this extraordinary experience in her paintings.

"Magic reigns here at every step. These lands fascinate and attract one with their secret world, sometimes they won‘t let go, ever revealing new secrets and mysteries. There is a huge number of places of strength where energy radically changes consciousness. This is where magic reigns without limit. A person simply cannot resist changing," Valeria recalls.

The works of Valeria Troubina presented at the exhibition were created in the period of 2000-2006. Most people would recall this time as a carefree one. Yet of course it also brought along its problems and troubles. The ability to look into yourself and to find an energy of calm and faith there is especially important in times of disaster. 

"Valeriia's works are meditative. They draw you in and give you peace. You can literally sense the jungle waking up with the first rays of the sun. How a chorus of voices is born from the singing of a single bird. You can feel the artist's great faith not only in the power of nature, in the good that always wins, but also in the human ability to rise to its highest incarnation within a single lifetime," believes co-curator and owner of Serpen Gallery, Natalka Yakymovych. 

For each work, Valeriia wrote a separate story, which immerses viewers in the atmosphere of her paintings and allows them to share her experience. Nowadays, each of us needs a little magic, a little faith and a lot of strength to move on. All of these elements are present in art. This is an exhibition that can bring you back to a place of strength, even if for some reason it is not accessible now.

29/02 - 15/04

Curators: Marianna Dzhulay, Natalka Yakymovych

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