Ukraine angst: Kyiv (Remembering Guernica)

Kyiv (Remembering Guernica) copyright 2020/2022 Douglas Stockdale

I find myself in a similar place that Picasso did in 1938 when Hitler bombed the civilian city of Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil War; how does one portray the suffering wrought by needless violence and chaos of an unprovoked attack?

Similar to Guernica, the city of Kyiv represents the center of Ukrainian culture, thus an apt title to this artwork. What we have become aware of is that similar to the Nazi bombing of Guernica, the Russian military attacks of Kyiv are focused on civilians as a part of a reign of terror. Like the Nazi’s attack of Guernica, the Russians are indiscriminately killing and maiming civilian men, women and children in and about Kyiv.

Picasso’s Guernica painting utilized representative symbols, such as the bull and horse, while I find myself leaning into contemporary abstraction of colors and mass to portray what I sense. This image has its roots utilizing my earlier investigation of caustic networks and quantum mechanics, an unseen and subliminal energy source. I wanted to create a strong undercurrent of tension in the blurring of the edges of the various shapes as they mash together. It need to have a chaotic energy utilizing the colors of Ukraine as though being needlessly attacked while creating a strong defense response. I want to incorporate reddish areas in this ambiguous image that could represent many aspects of this conflict, from the spilled blood of the Ukrainian martyrs to a symbolic of the presence of an unwanted foreign army that is ensnared in its borders.

I hope that it adds the necessary visual angst and tension of this perilous moment.

Like Guernica, I also hope that this image is far from being a mere political image, that it should be seen as a comment on what art can actually contribute towards the self-assertion that liberates every human being and protects the individual against overwhelming forces such as political crime, war, and death.





Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC): Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading on: May 14 & 15 – 21 & 22nd, 2022, from 1PM-4PM (Mountain Time). More details and sign-up available now at Colorado Photographic Arts Center.


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