Marking the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Freemuse highlights three artists who have died, among the many thousands of other civilians, with sorrow and deep sympathy to the bereaved and the Ukrainian people.
In March 2022, a Russian missile fell on a small building in the town of Bucha, bringing down walls and destroying windows. A small dog ran out, and recognising it as his elderly neighbour’s pet, a man entered the home to find her emaciated and near death. She was taken to hospital, and a few weeks later, on 30 April, the 85-year-old artist, Lyubov Panchenko died. Unable to leave her home under the Russian occupation, she arrived at the hospital, in a state that a doctor described as starved and ‘beyond
exhausted’. Panchenko studied art in the 1930s, becoming a fashion designer, painter and fabric artist, her work influenced by and featuring Ukrainian folk imagery and crafts. She refused to join the Soviet headed Union of Artists of Ukraine which meant that her opportunities for work were limited, and she lived in near poverty throughout the Soviet Era. She was only able to exhibit her work on her own after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. Panchenko lived most of her life in Bucha, the town where she was born. Captured by the Russians on 27 February, the Bucha became the scene of some of the more horrific reported war crimes. When the town was recaptured by Ukrainian forces on 1 April, they found over 450 dead, with evidence of severe torture, executions and rape. Just three weeks before the invasion, on 2 February, Panchenko had received visitors at her home from the Museum of the 1960s to celebrate her birthday and to discuss a digital exhibition of her work.
Lyubov Panchenko ‘In Starry Space’. The Sixtiers Dissident Movement Museum, Kyiv.