Editor’s Note: Yelena K. is a pseudonym for the artist. Consequence Forum has agreed not to disclose the artist’s real name for fear of persecution for speaking out against the war in Ukraine.

Only through art can I express the wound from the war within me.
—Yelena K.

Yelena K. is a Russian citizen living in Ukraine. At the age of twenty-three she left her Russian homeland to join and marry her Ukrainian husband. They met a decade prior on social media, but the broken relationship of their countries in the aftermath of the 2014 attacks on Cremea, Donestk, and Lugansk made it difficult for them to be together.

Today, in spite of war, they live together in western Ukraine, in the city of Khmelnytsky. A city deluged with Ukrainian refugees from Kharkov and Mariupol. Yelena is a self-taught painter and until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 she painted in a realist style and from observation. Needing to express her feelings of anguish, betrayal (by her birth country), and pain over the war, she felt it necessary to abandon her previous manner of painting for a more abstract, expressive and emotive way of working.

Important to her process is the inclusion of found materials—detritus from the war. She states, “ . . . the idea is to create an eternal from a disposable.” One can imagine the works featured here being made between air raid warnings alerting the artist and everyone in her city to take shelter in corridors of their buildings. A number of the eight works featured have been sold to a charity organization in Ukraine that assists Ukrainian soldiers who return from captivity.

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