Ukro-nazi art, or “why do I want to roll into Kiev in a tank”


Russians depicted by Ukrainian artist Vladislav Shereshevsky, photo: Alexander Zakletsky

March 19, 2015
Zakhar Prilepin, Russian writer
Translated by Krisitna Rus

I understand everything.

And that the Ukrainian nation exists, it’s a fact.

It used to be a small nation, but it grew-and grew-and grew and grew up.

And now to say that they are Russians who forgot how to think is stupid.

Czechs, Poles, Serbs, us – all of us were once one people, then each one broke away.

These processes have not ended. They still continue. In front of our eyes.

500 years – and the Ukrainian people are ready. Today is the final phase.

You can not re-educate them.

And you cannot digest the entire Ukraine, you will choke, as with Poland. And it is not necessary, therefore, to choke.

They deserved, won the right for their freedom and their faith. In certain (not yet defined) geographical boundaries.

But suddenly I find this article about the Ukrainian artist Vladislav Shereshevsky, where some Zuckerenko, a journalist, writes slightly licking his lips with pleasure: 

Note: the Russian girl on the top painting is depicted topless, but not the wholesome Ukrainian girls, he probably never heard of Femen? … or may be the Russian ones are from Pussy Riot? Then the rest must be the Russian liberal opposition…

“Everything about Ukraine (in the new works of the artist Shereshevsky) – is juicy, bright, and vital. Russia – to put it mildly, on the contrary. Themes of contemporary Russian society Shereshevsky explored before, but not often, and usually served in a sort of a neutral-depessing way, as something already elapsed and uninteresting. 

Before, for example, he painted the three pale drunks, glued to the TV screen, jubilant about “Crimea is ours” – they were pathetic, as the souls in Greek Hades, animating and moving only when they are remembered by those who live on the sun-drenched earth. Now it is not so: in the new “Russian motifs” of Shereshevsky appeared emotion, passion – with a strong minus sign. It is disgust, horror, irony – in the painting “Russiatoday”, for example”.

And then Shereshevsky takes the floor:

 “In November I was in Holland, in Hague – explored places where we will put Huilo on trial [“F4cker”, as Ukrainian anti-Putinists nicknamed Putin – KR]. I was struck by genre scenes in the paintings of the “small Dutch” – playing cards, fights and other scenes from the life of the social bottom. I thought then, that first, this style is not reflected in our art, and secondly that Holland, has not always been so groomed, as it is now. And what they had in the XVII-XVIII centuries, the brotherly nation has right now and will have for a long time”.

The journalist continues: “The artist doesn’t seem to care about the probability of loosing the “Russian market” – and Shereshevsky always sold well, including in Russia. “When I called Moscow, even tried to provoke – there were no reaction! All my customers now have more problems with money than before, but they passed the adequacy test – they are all our people.”

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And, finally, Shereshevsky proudly draws glorious conclusions: “I think, – says Vladislav, – that Ukrainians had changed a lot and progressed over the past year and a half. For the better and in the right direction… Right now you are either a “vatnik” [derogatory term for “Russian” – KR] or a human.”

…and here I am, understanding everything about Ukraine, even loving it, respecting the right of maidanite Ukrainians to sing as they please, suddenly feel an overwhelming  desire to roll into Kiev on the first tank. To find Shereshevsky somewhere behind his paintings in a museum, and kindly ask:

– Well, show us the pictures… where are they? “Crimea Today” this, Crimea that? Huilo, muilo, Holland? What did you f$cking dribble, bring it out! We will admire it together. Here comes a miner, a sailor, nazbol, a fighter of the breed of Motorola – they too want to see.

…this is not a nice feeling I have. I must resist it…

Painting images taken from:

Kristina Rus:

Of course this artist is simply a byproduct of his society, and it should not be surprising that some people express their feelings through Facebook, and some through painting, even if these are feelings of contempt for an entire nation (and half of his own, who are subject to bombing for not agreeing with this portrayal of themeselves), no matter how skilled is the artist.

His paintings are not a source of the problem, they are a product and a snapshot in time of the Ukrainian society for the contemporary and future generations to discuss and analyze, and another piece of evidence left by the culprit himself which combined with other pieces complete the puzzle for the Ukrainian case.

We, and especially the Russian people, should not loose sight, that this artist does not represent the entire Ukrainian nation, and there are many people in the opposite camp, they are just not heard, because speaking up for them could be life-threatening.

But the reality is that the fringes of Russian society will not resist the urge and will inevitably turn into the mirror image of Ukrainian russophobes, perpetuating the conflict. At least Russia is more immune to falling to their level as a whole, because Ukraine plays a much smaller role in Russian life, then Russia does in Ukrainian life.

We can wonder and debate if there is a red line in the freedom of artistic expression, where it turns into ethnic hatred, fascism and xenophobia, and where this line is drawn.

Vladimir Shereshevsky and Charlie Ebdo are just some of many examples which we can ponder about. 

But I think if we can judge a vocal and written statement on the appropriateness of their content, an image is no different, because it is just a different expression of the same thought and intent.

The lesson, however, is this is just one of many examples of the deep systemic cultural collapse in the Ukrainian society, which will bring a lot of heartache and suffering before, if ever, it will be cured.

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