Kiew Kunst

Interview. Anzhelika Palyvoda

Anzhelika Palyvoda – Ukrainian visual artist born in 2000 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Currently based in Vienna. Graduated from the National Academy of Fine art and Architecture, MA monumental painting. From 2022 studying at Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, painting department.
Taken time, 2022, acrylic_canvas, 50_50cm, from series Another side
Taken time, 2022, acrylic canvas, 50 x 50 cm, from series Another side

Anzhelika works with such mediums as painting, graphics, sculpture, and performance. Her artworks are widely represented in solo and group shows in Ukraine, Europe, and the United States. Since 2020 she is actively taking part in charity events, auctions, art, and social activities. Her paintings are part of private collections in Austria, Ukraine, Germany, Belgium, and Colombia. In her artistic practice, Anzhelika explores the psychology of human actions through the prism of sports, memory, and collective experience, and the relationship between humans and the environment.

Styrian forrest, 2022, acrylic_canvas, 30_30cm, from series Sticks&stones
Styrian forrest, 2022, acrylic canvas, 30 x 30 cm, from series Sticks&stones

Can you tell us more about your artistic background?
Art has always played a big role in my life, and now these concepts are inseparable. My parents always encouraged my passion and sent me to study at the Kyiv Children’s Academy of Arts at an early age. It was an important time of learning, we studied painting, graphics, sculpture, etc. I also graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv. This is one of the largest art education institutions in Ukraine. The experience of studying in the academic tradition gave me many professional skills but also taught me to resist the system. I completed my bachelor’s degree in the first workshop on „formal“ art. We had a strong group of bright personalities, and of course, everyone wanted more freedom in artistic expression. I studied in the master’s program in the workshop of monumental religious art, but the war interrupted my studies and we did the peak of our studies online. I defended my thesis already in Vienna. Since the age of 18, I have been involved in various art projects, creating exhibitions with my friends, accepting invitations for solo exhibitions, etc. I have always tried to be active and visible in the artistic environment.

Mother’s portrait, 2022, acrylic_canvas, 90_80см
Mother’s portrait, 2022, acrylic canvas, 90 x 80 cm

How do you work?
There are two ways to work when you have an interesting idea and are looking for possible visual methods of expressing it. Or the other way around, a visual form is born first, and it tells itself what it is about. I make a lot of sketches of ideas so that I don’t forget, keep notes and take a lot of photos every day. The photo often serves as a compositional basis for me, then I often refine it digitally and transfer the finished sketch to the canvas. Now I work in the university studio and at home. Often it is „seasonal“, either I will work a lot or not paint at all.

What role does the artist have in society?
I often think about this question, because the function of the artist is practically not needed by the state, as it was in previous centuries. Artists have their own community that covers many areas related to art production and is an integral part of modern life. But in my opinion, the artist is the greatest resonator of our time, this is his strength and purpose. Natural attentiveness and sensitivity give the artist the freedom to create something that is either a reflection of reality or its criticism. Art has the power to speak on a different level, it often has a greater impact on people than words, because, behind its allegorical nature, there is an essence that touches the subconscious or soul. For me, it’s an opportunity to capture the moment and the artist’s personality, which is very interesting.

It’s been over 1 year since the Russians started the war in your country. How do you feel? How do you deal with it?
This is a very sensitive issue for me. First of all, I would like to remind you that the war started by Russia began in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and the seizure of the territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. These events greatly affected me as a teenager, as well as many young people in Ukraine. Over the years, a conscious, talented, and active community has been formed. Everyone knew what freedom meant and its price. Before the full-scale invasion, I could not believe it. I was hoping for the best until the last moment, and on February 23, in the evening, I was working in my studio in Kyiv. When it started, there was great fear and shock, and I evacuated on March 2 to the border with Poland. Now, in a year of struggle, I feel very determined and angry. I am trying to transform this pain into action: to disclose information about the war, and to create art projects to raise funds for the military and civilians. Because I have the opportunity to work not under missiles, I have to be 10 times more effective.

У, 2022, acrylic_canvas, 50_50cm, from series Another side
У, 2022, acrylic canvas, 50 x 50 cm, from series Another side

Does it have an effect on your art? 
It influenced my work and style quite a bit. With the first series I created last spring, Simple Words, I expressed all the pain and fear of war. It was a new technique for me, using the most affordable materials – wallpaper and tape. This series was presented in various exhibitions in Austria, Graz, Barcelona, Spain, New Jersey, United States. Now I work on canvas, these series are about being in a new country in the circumstances of war at home.

What do you want for the future?
In the future, I expect justice and trust among people. To justice, because aggressors must carry punishment for grave crimes before humanity. I do not want to feel fear again to outlive war or occupation only through the imperial ambitions of an aggressor country. And trust is a sign of a developed and sensitive society. That level of trust and care that is now among people around me inspires and gives many resources for creation. And from myself, I will try to work and do all possible for the distribution and protection of Ukrainian art and culture.

Artist Anzhelika Palyvoda
Artist Anzhelika Palyvoda

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
I wanted to add that art is the life-sustaining force that keeps this crazy world going. I would like to wish everyone the courage to stand up for what you love, it is worth the effort. This applies to both life and art.

Anzhelika Palyvoda –

»Office Ukraine. Shelter for Ukrainian Artists« has been set up for Ukrainian artists and cultural workers in all disciplines fleeing war in Ukraine and seeking shelter in Austria. It serves as a liaison between them and the Austrian art scene. They help to connect Ukrainian artists and cultural workers with cultural institutions and initiatives as well as artists all over Austria: residencies, galleries, museums, off-spaces, design studios, film organizations, literature and music venues, funds, etc. They assist in finding accommodation, studio places, residencies, and internships; provide information on applying to university as well as exhibitions, concerts, and other opportunities; and try to help in finding jobs and grants. As a mediating platform, our aim is to connect those who offer support with Ukrainian artists in need.