The Naked Room is excited to announce its latest collaboration with L’Atlas in Paris — the group show It’s Only Achilles’ Heel That’s Left Alive bringing together five outstanding female artists from Ukraine, TNR’s presentation reflects two generations of artists from the gallery roster, most of them on display in France’s capital for the very first time.
It’s Only Achilles’ Heel That’s Left Alive – referring to the greatest of all Greek warriors whose legend states him to be invulnerable in all his body except for his heel and based on the title of a recent painting by Kateryna Lysovenko – intertwines five young female Ukrainian artists working in a variety of media, ranging from painting and drawing to sculpture and video. Deconstruction, shifts and errors in perception (Katya Buchatska); the relationship between the narrative, colour, and personal experience (Lucy Ivanova); vulnerability and bodily taboo’s (Katya Libkind); philosophical and empathetic commentaries on the prevailing situation and the resulting human fates (Kateryna Lysovenko); uncertainty, fragility and the ephemeral (Olga Sabko): The show invites the viewers to get to know a generation of artists all born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, reflecting a current state of mind by way of an intense examination and journey.
Katya Buchatska never ceases to surprise in her choice of a new formal approach, her varied choices of media and display. Eluding a recognizable style, her world consists of complex and rare artistic techniques, a fascination with the pre-Holocene era, ingenious images, incomprehensible plots and simple jokes combined with melancholy and pain, which the viewer can almost feel physically. At times approaching her subject of interest like an archeologist, Katya examines it and peels off layer by layer, uncovering and exposing while creating a new narrative until finally she reveals the core. There’s no obvious storyline to unite the selection of works on display ranging from a duet of concrete whales to resin palm leaf, from between a hyper-realistic leg with a bruise to obscure levkases. Building imaginative connections between them all would be as exciting as it would be frustrating.
In Lucy lvanova’s most recent series of paintings, the artist created landscapes as if observed from a thermal imager widely used at battlefields and deliberately reduced her normally bright and miscellaneous palette to a few colours – hot orange and red and grey-ish. The title of her series Warm Optics is a false translation of thermal vision technology. But it also refers to the warmth of a gaze, to the way one looks at one’s land that is under threat of being destroyed and forever lost. These scenes were inspired by photos taken by a soldier through his thermal imager. Used eventually for searching a target to be killed, here, this war tool becomes a medium to contemplate and to gain amusement from living creatures.
The artist Katya Libkind is a co-founder and member of ateliernormalno, a studio for artists with and without Down Syndrome. Her work Down Syndrome Porn addresses two of the most-tabooed aspects in the lives of people with the syndrome: sex and intimacy. In the world full of overwhelming and widely accessible erotic content, people with Trisomy 21 are both deprived from free sexual expression, usually due to overprotection coming from their families. As well as excluded from a “normalised” imagery of sexuality in media they come across, but cannot relate to. Katya started thinking about this question by sketching frames from porn films in which people with Down syndrome participated. The drawings created in this process oscillate between pleasure, manipulation, desire, and violence, thereby opening the same question for the viewer of her works.
Kateryna Lysovenko’s artistic practice explores a potential dual role of (monumental) painting and drawing, her main media: an element of resistance – and comparable to a casket designed to hold shards of memory. Remembrance and the utopian act of resurrection seem fundamental and symbolic to the artist's creative philosophy. Memory becomes a safe space, establishing survival for people, places and ideas seeking shelter from evil, destruction, and oblivion. This becomes particularly true for her recent works, including the eponymous work of the exhibition, It’s Only Achilles’ Heel That’s Left Alive.
In Olga Sabko’s fragile and floating ceramic sculptures, the artist revolves around the idea of time with the results presenting an open end – released forms in perpetual motion and ceaseless shape shifters resembling organic material. Some sculptures open into emptiness and provide latitude for the perception of uncertainty, inconsistency, and ephemerality, key features in Olga’s artistic practice. Their raw presence is emphasised by their lack of any colour. Time will inevitably take its course by altering and possibly destroying the works.
L’Atlas, galerie des mondes, 4 cour de l’Île Louviers, 75004 Paris, France
Open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 7 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm and by appointment
Supported by the Emerige Group, L'Atlas invites foreign galleries or institutions to exhibit one or more artists from contemporary scenes that are not well represented in France. L'Atlas proposes an original model: the artistic direction of its 5 annual exhibitions is ensured jointly by Emerige's artistic projects department and the invited partner. These exhibitions are coupled with a cultural programme (conferences, talks, readings, screenings or concerts) and with visits or workshops aimed at a wide audience. The Atlas participates in the Emerige Group's ambitious programme of support for the contemporary art scene, with a programme focused mainly on international artists.