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Ukrainian artists fight back with radical posters

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Posters are a key medium for Ukrainian artists determined to reflect the war effort. Sunseed Art – sunflowers are a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and resilience – has been an important platform for Ukrainian artists who have been creating posters since the early days of the war in February, according to a statement posted on its website. “Ukrainian graphic designers began to use their own art in order to convey the Ukrainian view of the tragic and cruel events that happened and are happening,” the company said in a statement.

The platform, founded by artist and curator Olesya Drashkaba and investor Nataliya Popovych, launched earlier this year with an exhibition at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. The site offers downloadable and printable images by ten artists for €70 each.

Ten percent of the profits go to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, to the Come Back Alive foundation for the benefit of the army or to Voices of Children which provides psychological support to children living through war. “50% will go to supporting Ukrainian artists. 40% will keep this project running,” the company says. Striking images include Madonna by Anastasia Krasilnikova and Cheers by Oleh Hryschchenko who says that “during the first days of the full-scale invasion of Russia, ordinary Ukrainians had no guns, but they met the occupiers with a Molotov cocktail [depicted in the image]”.

“Freedom has always been the most important idea of ​​Ukraine, and the Ukrainian poster has always been part of the cultural resistance of Ukrainians,” adds Sunseed Art in its statement. “[The Ukrainian artists] Yuriy Narbut, Vasyl Krychevskyi and Nil Khasevych created powerful symbols and images of the Ukrainian struggle in their posters and graphics a hundred years ago. For example, Nil Khasevych, who could not fight due to his limited physical abilities, wrote: “I cannot fight with weapons. But I fight with a cutter and a chisel. I want the world to know that the liberation struggle continues, that Ukrainians are fighting.'”

Ukrainian posters also played an important role in the Maidan Revolution, a 2014 uprising against Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, when many Ukrainian graphic designers created messages illustrating Ukrainians’ desire to choose an alternative government.