The Naked Room is pleased to invite you to a solo exhibition of Ksenia Hnylytska. It is dedicated to one of the most debated issues—the legacy of Soviet architectural modernism. The project was created with the participation of Alex Bykov, architect and one of the key researchers of this topic.
“Ksenia Hnylytska has lived at Holosiivskiy Avenue since her childhood. Her top floor apartment windows overlook Demiivka, one of the first industrially developed areas of Kyiv. Since the 1970s this borough has undergone several waves of reconstruction and rejuvenation. Resulting from one of them, some key Soviet modernist buildings were erected in the hood—the Central bus station, the Institute of Scientific and Technical Expertise and Information and, finally, the main building of the National Vernadsky Library. These structures were to visually determine the cityscape of the area and to represent the Soviet scientific-enlightenment project. Today they just bear witness to its demolition, participating in the rapid neoliberal transformation. The bus station got ripped off its original interior, the “UFO at Lybidska” is being swallowed by a shopping mall and the Library survives as a spectacular prop for numerous commercials and music videos.
Ksenia Hnylytska has practiced painting since her childhood. Painting has been her way to deal with the impetus and inconsistent world. Her canvases often present us with familiar objects, sites and subjects. The experience of recognition, proposed by a realistic image in painting, is very alluring as everything is clear and comprehensive: “chair”—”sit”, “banana”—”eat”, “bed”—”sleep”. However, painting, as realistic as it may be, is a fact in itself, rather than meer representation of reality.
Ksenia Hnylytska has been contemplating the Vernadsky Library building through the windows since her childhood. In the past eight years she has also been enduring her observations in an oil-on-canvas format. If Katsuhiko Hokusai were Ksenia, he would have already published 100, or at least 36, views of the building, but Ksenia is not in a rush: throughout these years she has completed four paintings. With consumerist hype over Soviet architectural heritage as a backdrop, Hnylytska’s paintings appear as weird mammoths, that have miraculously survived the era of contemporary art. After all, these works pretend neither to research, nor to protect, nor to reconsider this legacy. Rather they simply reflect the artist’s admiration for the particular elements of construction. Hence these four paintings, in our view, appear to be the most relevant statement on the issues of city development, social activism and strategic thinking of the Kyivans and guests of the capital city,” comment curators Lizaveta German and Maria Lanko.
“This project comprises a painting representing the inertia of waiting, as well as the so-called long-term paintings, that I have worked on for a couple of years. They are based on retro-approach, an attempt to work beyond the timeframe, without shuddering from deadlines in approach,” Ksenia explains.