Artwork rescued from Ukraine war displayed in Paris

© Sonya Ciesnik, FRANCE 24

‘The Facets of Freedom’ exhibition at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Paris is an ode to liberty consisting of works evacuated to France from Ukraine in extremis following the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Paris recently opened its doors to visitors for a preview of ‘The Facets of Freedom’ exhibition (open to the public from January 19 to March 3). The works displayed "are a manifestation of freedom, whether it be creative, physical, intellectual, sexual or emotional", said Viktoria Gulenko, the centre’s director.

As the velvety notes of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ accompanying a video display drifted in from an upstairs alcove, visitors peered at the works from the private collection of Tetiana and Boris Grynyov. But while the individual pieces evoked notions of liberty, the collection itself was a piece of a larger picture – that of the mad dash of cultural workers across Ukraine to evacuate artwork after Russia's invasion in February of last year.

“The challenge for us was transporting the collections. It was our personal responsibility to save everything possible. We represent different regions and we had different experiences during the war depending on whether we were in Kyiv, Odesa or Kharkiv,” said Oksana Barshynova, deputy director of the National Art Museum of Ukraine, during a round table discussion with several other art curators and collectors.

Hrynyova's gaze becomes soft as she turns back to the paintings. Her aim, she said, is to “put an end to the false principle that Ukrainian art is of lesser importance”.

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