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Artwork from a nation under attack

Whether sketching in bomb shelters or escaping the capital with unruly pets, Ukrainian illustrators and artists bear witness to the fear, heroism and solidarity of their countrymen.

By New Statesman

We Are Not Safe by Romana Ruban
“I was born in Kyiv and when the war began I decided to stay. In my apartment I have barricaded the windows and made a sleeping place in the hallway. This is a self portrait answer to friends who ask: ‘Are you safe?’ I can’t be safe while Russia wants to burn my motherland to the ground. I ask for help, not from a powerless nation but from all the brave hearts here, who will fight until the victory of Ukraine.”
Instagram @romanaruban

How Are You? by Studio Serigraph
“I made this image in a bomb shelter in my old primary school. These days, we say in Ukraine that, ‘How are you?’ is a way to say, ‘I love you’. More than 500,000 people have become refugees. Families are separated, buses carrying women and children are being shelled. Checking that your loved ones are alive has become a morning ritual. I am afraid that if the war lasts longer, people will get used to it and switch to something else. Please don’t stop supporting Ukraine.”
Instagram @studioserigraph

War Ship by Oleksandr Shatokhin
“When I was little my family moved from Russia to Ukraine. I never thought I would be ashamed that I was born in Russia. But I am proud to be Ukrainian. My image is an illustration of the heroism of our people. Every Ukrainian does everything they can, all our strength is aimed at fighting the enemy. When cities all over Ukraine are being destroyed, we say ‘Fuck off Russian ship’. I would like to express my support for the British people and government: only by joint action will we be able to win this war. For the time being our troops will be the shield of Europe.”
Instagram @shat.art88

Refugees by Mariya Kinovych
“We had to flee from Kyiv on 25 February. We weren’t ready; we didn’t believe that war would happen at all. We had just bought a car and planned to travel around Ukraine. Our dog is adopted and he is anxious: we had planned to introduce him to the car very smoothly. Instead our first trip lasted for more than 16 hours. The traffic was insane and we hadn’t had much sleep. We took two of my friends with their dog and it was hell for both animals – they didn’t get along. We spent two days driving and finally reached our destination: Chernivtsi, a city in the west of Ukraine, where I have relatives. I didn’t want to be a refugee. We left our home hoping we can return.”
Instagram @marikinoo

Support by Olga Shtonda
“I’m from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, 40km from the Russian border. Two weeks before the war began, I went to Mexico to see a friend. Being away from those you love in such a terrible time is hard. There is constant bombing where my parents live. At first I felt hopeless. Sometimes I still feel guilty that they see horror while I see a peaceful sky. But I realised that I can give them my best support even from another continent. Knowing you are not alone helps a lot.”
Instagram @olga.shtonda

Curated by Erica Weathers

Fees have been donated at the artists’ requests to aid organisations in Ukraine. This article was originally published in March 2022.

[See also: Ukrainians’ stories of war]

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This article appears in the 02 Mar 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Hero of our Times