How two Ukrainian art dealers rescued valuable paintings | Arts | DW

It was a rescue procedure that reads like the plot of a war thriller: an

It was a rescue procedure that reads like the plot of a war thriller: an artwork seller and a gallery proprietor from Ukraine jeopardizing their life to preserve will work of artwork from the embattled city of Kyiv. They didn’t do this on behalf of the authorities or any other group, but on their have initiative as art enthusiasts.

Katharina Vozianova and Oleksandr Shchelushchenko explained to DW how they managed to bring the functions of art to Germany.

Katharina Vozianova with some of the functions she rescued, now on clearly show at the ARTMUC gallery in Munich

‘It was quite scary’

Ukrainian artwork seller Katharina Vozianova spontaneously fled her dwelling in Kyiv in February, without the need of a approach for her artworks. “When the war started off, I jumped in my vehicle with three other folks and drove off. I only experienced a little suitcase and a tiny painting by Ievgen Petrov with me,” she suggests.

Prior to the war, she labored with various galleries in Kyiv and London and dealt in up to date and avant-garde art. She never expected her existence to transform so rapidly.

Kateryna Vozianova

In Zurich, in advance of the war: Katharina Vozianova is the Ukrainian agent of the London art dealer James Butterwick

She experienced basically previously planned her up coming main exhibition showcasing will work by Ukrainian painter Ievgen Petrov with the gallery operator Oleksandr Shchelushchenko. Dozens of his functions of art had been already saved in Shchelushchenko’s TSEKH gallery in Kyiv.

The war improved anything

Following a shorter stay in Munich, Vozianova returned to her hometown. She did not want to lose her art to the war.

Shchelushchenko remembers Katharina’s return. “She recommended that we acquire our artworks to Germany, where by she is effectively connected. She would transportation the art as a courier and arrange all the things that goes with it.”

And so, the two embarked on their bold rescue mission. When the Russian army was attacking Kyiv, Shchelushchenko drove to his gallery and took the paintings out of their frames. “When I came to Kyiv on March 7, the environment was pretty intense. Kyiv was becoming bombed there were being bombings all all over the gallery,” he says. He was supported by armed helpers. “We arrived with guns and distinctive protecting outfits.”

Ukraine Kunst-Rettungsaktion aus Kiew; Art dealer Sasha Shchelushchenko

Artwork supplier Shchelushchenko (r.) with artwork collector Maksym Cherkasenko (l.), a member of the Kyiv Civil Defense Power involved in the rescue procedure

‘Act speedy or die’

Shchelushchenko discovered to value entirely new items throughout the rescue procedure. “It was very interesting for me to see that everything has to transpire extremely promptly in war. You never have time for, ‘Oh, I like that. Oh, but I you should not like that.’ You will not have time for sensitivities. Either you act quickly or you die.”

Missing the right packaging materials, the gallery owner and his helpers rolled up the artworks of modern day artists Ievgen Petrov and Mykola Bilous and packed them into sewage pipes, which stored the artworks protected. “There were being a few enormous tubes, practically as tall as me,” claims Vozianova.

The hands of a person rolling up a painting.

All-around 40 visuals have been rescued from the gallery

In the meantime, Vozianova toured Kyiv to preserve more artworks from her individual apartment and gathered valuables that her mates had remaining powering when they fled.

Then she picked up the packed sewage pipes from Shchelushchenko’s gallery, loaded them into her car and drove to Chernivtsi. The western Ukrainian metropolis is about 45 minutes by auto from Romania.

Suspicious tubes

Even however she experienced managed to escape the war, once she had arrived at the Ukrainian-Romanian border Vozianova however experienced to encounter bureaucratic difficulties. “You cannot just push throughout the border like that. I had to existing files that proved that the paintings were being not national cultural property, that they are really will work of present-day art.”

People at a check-in counter, three tall orange sewage pipes stand next to them.

Unconventional packaging: The paintings ended up transported in sewage pipes

She faced problems at the airport, way too, as the safety staff did not in the beginning enable her go by test-in. “They saw me, a little woman with these massive tubes in her arms, and they stated, ‘What the hell is in there?’ And then they X-rayed them to see if there weren’t any weapons in it.”

All-around 40 paintings in Munich

The artworks survived the journey from Kyiv to Munich. What will take place to them now is still unsure. Katharina Vozianova and Oleksandr Shchelushchenko would like to show them and market them to collectors. “We by now have invites to the Berlin Artwork 7 days and Artwork Vienna,” says Shchelushchenko confidently.

But 1st, the paintings will be exhibited at the ARTMUC artwork gallery in Munich from Might 13-15. After that, they will be demonstrated in a pop-up gallery. “The approach is to exhibit them jointly with other artworks from Ukraine. We want to support the artists who are trapped in Ukraine,” suggests Vozianova.

The artwork market in the place has been entirely disrupted. Quite a few of the artists she represents grew to become depressed, started out drinking and stopped painting. The war weighs intensely on them, states Shchelushchenko, who remaining Kyiv simply because he no lengthier feels safe and sound there. He now lives outside of the town and usually takes care of his mother.

“We are in regular make contact with with the artists,” adds Vozianova. “Mykola Bilous is a truly strong person. He told me, ‘I will guard my residence and my studio, I will surely not leave’.” Ievgen Petrov does not want to go away Ukraine both. “None of them want that.” But as shortly as they change their minds, suggests the art supplier, “we are going to get them out of there ideal away.”

A painting of a large woman in a bikini on a camel looking at a green landscape with giraffes drinking in the river.

‘Vacation’ by Ukrainian artist Ievgen Petrov

This short article was originally published in German.