Red & White: Art Exhibition
Red and White is an online exhibit in which fifteen illustrators speak out on police brutality, human rights, and democracy in Belarus through artwork and social media. Mass protests have erupted all across Belarus following an illegitimate election that resulted in a sixth term for Alexander Lukashenko. People took to the streets, artists took to Instagram.
The illustrators in this exhibit use their talent to educate the international community on the injustice happening in Belarus. The color red holds a symbolic space of resistance in Belarusian collective imagination. The iconic white-red-white flag was used throughout the twentieth century as a symbol of revolt by workers unions, during the country’s short term as the Belarusian Democratic Republic, and since 1995 as a symbol of opposition against the Lukashenko regime. Displaying the flag is banned by the government and punishable by law. Jana Galushkina paints Lukashenko in red, asking the international community for support. Austėja Zaveckaitė satirizes the role of police amidst their brutality: that it is actually the people who hold the future in their hands. Ingrained not only in Belarusian history, the color is a battle cry for all people who know the fight for true democracy often, a needlessly bloody one.
Artists also find humor amidst inexcusable police justice and riot-suppression practices. Olga Belai highlights an unlikely hero of the revolution – a goose. Olga Khakovskaya uses emojis to juxtapose the calm, homely appearance of senior citizens with the black bullet-proof uniform-clad, assault weapon-waving police, crouched and ready for attack – asking the viewer if such relentless police brutality is truly necessary.
Olga Balai is a fashion illustrator based in Minsk and a finalist at the Belarus Fashion Week: Illustration Competition in 2018. She is active on social media, holding contests, drawing challenges, workshops, and selling prints to her over one thousand followers on Instagram.
Ania Redko is a well-known Belarusian artist and illustrator whose work has been published in countless international advertisements, murals, children’s books, and more. Among her clients are Viber, Mark Formelle, Nestle, Unicef, MEGA, Despot Depot, and Volkswagen. Her work can be found on Behance and Instagram.
Roman Bulojchick is an emerging artist that explores current event through memes and satire. His artwork is on Instagram.
Women in white
Women in White is a feminist and peace solidarity movement in Belarus. Female demonstrators have organized protests all over Europe to demand an end to the violence that followed the election. Dressed in white and carrying flowers, Belarusian women have taken a stand on the streets and through Instagram. Using the hashtag Women_in_White, illustrators all around the world have contributed works that embody peace to the challenge. The challenge’s rules are that submitted artworks should not contain violence. On social media, it seems as if the ultimate solution to police and state aggression is peace.
Women have played an invaluable role to the uprisings and many of the artists in this exhibition pay homage to their sisters and mothers that have left a lasting impression on society. Artists Kostya and Marta Milczarek brings viewers back to Kievanrus folk life with a woman in traditional garb, almost messianic with her arms outstretched. Julja Achramovitj evokes heroine realism, white and red flag in hand, long hair blowing in the wind, reminiscent of Soviet times. Elena Permiakova and Evgeniya Strakhova illustrate a modern woman, perhaps no different from an actual activist on the street, emerging resilient from fire, as if rising from the ashes. Olga Khatkovskaya actually depicts her own sister, who supports the protest from her home as a young mother. Olga Balai depicts activist Nina Baginskaya, a great-grandmother and spitfire cult hero of the protest, who many of the other artists have alluded to in their work.
By Elena Permiakova
By Olga Boewa
By Anna Demch
By Sonya Korschenboym
By Juliia Achramovich
By Evgeniya Strakhova
By Katerina Samuseva
By Marta Milczarek
By Mary Popkova
By Olga Boewa
Images from top left to bottom right:
Elena Permiakova is an illustrator and watercolor portrait artist based in Perm. Her work has been published in Zvezda and Perm City Culture Center. Her portfolio can be found on Behance.
Kostya is an artist and animator from Russia that has lived and worked in China. He specializes in children’s literature. Kostya’s current project is Chinese in Pictures on Instagram.
Marta Milczarek is a graphics and environment artist in Poland, prolific in various design software, specializing in 3D modeling and texture. She is a graduate of The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark and currently works as a 3D artist at Ubisoft Blue Byte. Her latest works can be found on Instagram.
Olga Boewa is an illustrator based in St. Petersburg. Her colorful illustrations are found all over the city and online through sticker packs and emojis. Her work can be found on Behance and Instagram.
Julja Achramovitj is an illustrator and character designer based in Minsk. Her pins, coasters, and anime fandom-inspired merchandise can be purchased at Superlama and Piropanda.
Daaaszh is a twenty-four year old artist based in Belarus and an avid fan of Kpop, Harry Potter, and fan art. Her artwork can be found on Instagram.
Evgeniya Strakhova: see bio and links above.
Mary Popkova: see bio and links above.
Sonya Korshenboym is a Siberian artist based in Israel. She collaborates with Meduza, Tinkoff Bank, Culture Trip, and Quartz. Her work has been featured for Google Android, Intercom, Bon Appetit, and Coca Cola. Her latest work can be seen on Instagram.
Katerina Samuseva is an illustrator and graphic designer from Belarus. Her work can be found on Behance and Instagram.
This exhibition was curated by Katherine Leung and Amanda Sonesson.