Ukrainian artworks find safety and an audience in Switzerland

Ukrainian artworks find safety and an audience in Switzerland

Switzerland hosts Ukrainian art/Shutterstock Images

23 February 2023, Geneva: Dedicated director of the Kyiv National Art Gallery has successfully shepherded important artworks from Ukraine to two museums in Switzerland to escape the fate of damage and loss in the ongoing war.

Yuri Vakulenko, headed to his gallery as Russia attacked Ukraine a year ago and lived in the basement for 66 days in a bulletproof vest caring for the gallery’s artworks. He asked European museums if they would hold two exhibitions, already held in Kyiv.

Two Swiss museums, the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva and Kunstmuseum Basel, agreed.

“This was an idea that would allow our paintings to be in a safe place while allowing our gallery to continue to fight on the cultural front,” Vakulenko told Reuters from Kyiv.

With special security and in secrecy the paintings were shipped, 49 works from the 18th to 20th centuries by Ukrainian-born artists, such as Ilya Repin and Volodymyr Borovykovsky.

The Musee Rath, which hosts the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire’s temporary exhibitions, is now showing “From Dusk to Dawn,” displaying works by Ukrainian painters from the Kyiv gallery.

Many of the painters were trained in Russia and became associated with its empire or the Soviet Union. Olga Osadtschy, assistant curator at the Kunstmuseum Basel, said “We’re all used to this label ‘Russian art’, but there is so much more beneath it.”

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