past
Optical Prostheses
28 September —
04 October 2023

selected works

about

Voloshyn Gallery proudly presents Optical Prostheses, a solo exhibition of Danylo Halkin at Warsaw Gallery Weekend.

In his works, the Ukrainian artist Danylo Halkin, born in the city of Dnipro, investigates the concept of public space and reflects upon influence political systems exert on people’s lives. After the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukrainian territory, he initiated a project focused on studying Soviet decorative art, with a particular focus on the stained glass windows in hospitals, military offices, and fire stations, thus creating a cohesive artistic expression in the context of wartime.

The paintings depict smoke-dimmed stained glass windows of actual buildings located in the Dnipropetrovsk region, damaged either by Russian missile attacks or broken during the process of removing communist symbolism in Ukraine. The absence of colours other than black and white makes the works resemble monochrome illustrations from Soviet art history books. Yet, they also speak of war news and cultural heritage. The artist paints images of the stained glass onto the canvases, thus giving it a new meaning, together with a status of a work of art, which it has never had before. In a way, the resulting pieces capture the spirit of today while allowing the viewer a peek into the atmosphere of the original surroundings of the decorative windows.

The absence of colours other than black and white makes the works resemble monochrome illustrations from Soviet art history books. Yet, they also speak of war news and cultural heritage. The artist paints images of the stained glass onto the canvases, thus giving it a new meaning, together with a status of a work of art, which it has never had before. In a way, the resulting pieces capture the spirit of today while allowing the viewer a peek into the atmosphere of the original surroundings of the decorative windows.

The title Optical Prostheses refers to distortion of history, for instance, through the prism of Kremlin propaganda and Russian imperialism. The narratives conveyed by the stained-glass windows were propaganda tools all along; in the past, they used to promise bright and happy tomorrow, but the war has upended our perception of them, reversing the effect. Now, they showcase war crimes, sometimes quite literally visualizing news headlines from Ukraine.

This brings to mind apt and befitting words from Walter Benjamin’s essay On the Concept of History: “Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing it ‘the way it really was.’ It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger." By turning to artistic heritage of the past, Halkin interweaves threads of history with the cruel reality of the ongoing war in Ukraine. He emphasizes the importance of questioning narratives endorsed by authorities and lets Soviet totalitarian art reveal its essence in a different light.

Danylo Halkin

Danylo Halkin (born in Dnipro in 1985) is a contemporary Ukrainian artist/curator. He had studied at Dnipropetrovsk Theatre and Arts College and at Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture. In his works, he explores the concept of public space through installations, happenings, site-specific art, etc. He cooperates with state-owned cultural institutions, drawing public attention to pieces of Soviet heritage in Eastern Europe to promote their further preservation in museums and re-interpretation.

Halkin’s works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions, including Kaleidoscope of (Hi)stories. Ukrainian Art 1912–2023 (The Albertinum, Dresden), Out Loud (Galeria Labirynt, Lublin), When Faith Moves Mountains (PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv), Transition Dialogue Talks (LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster), Europa Endlos (Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen), National Art Museum of Ukraine (Kyiv) and others.

He is a two-time nominee for PinchukArtCentre Prize (in 2011 and 2015) and the winner of the Special Prize of the award (in 2013). Halkin was shortlisted for Malevich Award (in 2014) and M17 Sculpture Prize (in 2020). He also won the Special Prize of the Art Future Prize award in 2020.

28.09–4.10.2023

plac Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego 1/3, 00-078 Warszawa, Poland

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