“I’m bleeding, but I’m strong.” The story of a Kyiv artist who paints war

“I’m bleeding, but I’m strong.”  The story of a Kyiv artist who paints war

“No matter what horror happens, no matter what pain and tragedy befell you, life is stronger than all this.” This is what the artist Mariya Loniuk says, who creates paintings about the war in Ukraine. Her works strike deep into the heart, because they reproduce the feelings of every Ukrainian. On the one hand – pain, losses, suffering. But on the other hand – strength, courage, love. All this is combined in Maria’s drawings. In total, the artist has already created about 80 paintings on a military theme. In the pictures, we can see different stories from our lives. This is also the bravery of the defenders who are fighting against the occupiers. And despair from the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed by the Russians. And the torment of raped women. And the strength of all Ukrainians who do not give up before the onslaught of the enemy. As part of the “UP. Life” project “Hide Your Own”, we tell the story of an artist whose drawings are a reflection of our present. “When I heard the explosions, I was in a stupor” 29-year-old Maria Loniuk has been drawing all her life. In recent years, he has been working as a digital illustrator – creating digital graphics for mobile and computer games. Also teaches drawing. The Great War found Maria at home in Kyiv, where she lived with her parents, elderly grandmother and cats. The family did not believe in a full-scale attack by Russia – because only a completely insane creature could do such a thing. Therefore, the family did not pack an emergency suitcase and did not plan evacuation routes. “But on the eve of February 24, I was very worried, so I went to a gas station and filled up a full tank of my car just in case. On the way, I saw that a lot of people had already started to leave – bags and collected things could be seen in the cars,” recalls Maria Loniuk . Artist Maria Lonyuk Hearing the first explosions, the woman felt a stupor. “Can not be”. It was empty inside, I didn’t know what to do next. It was scary to go somewhere, because it would be very difficult for my 83-year-old grandmother to endure a long journey. A few months later, she did die, she did not live to see the victory. To reduce the degree of tension, in the evening of February 24, I sat down to draw. It’s my way of escaping reality for a bit and relaxing. I remember how I didn’t want to believe what was happening, and how scary it was. So I wanted to distract myself by drawing,” says the artist. The family lives on the way out of Kyiv in the direction of Gostomel, which was attacked by the Russians on the first day of the Great War. So the family heard explosions, the roar of aircraft and gunshots very loudly both during the day and at night. It was scary . Despite this, they stayed at home, hoping that everything was about to end. “Our house was damaged by a Russian projectile” along the road, Ukrainian equipment to repel the occupiers was drawn up. So it was extremely imprudent to stay there. Therefore, on February 25, without further ado, the family quickly gathered and went to relatives on the left bank of Kyiv, where it was relatively calmer. They all lived there until the end of spring. In April, our house was damaged by a Russian projectile: it hit the neighbor’s yard. Fortunately, the people were not injured, because they left, but two houses were completely destroyed. Nearby houses also suffered: their windows were completely blown out, the roof was broken, and cars exploded in their yards. In our house, the window frames were twisted and the roof was perforated. They’ve already patched things up a bit,” says Maria. In June, friends invited the girl to live with them in Vinnytsia. She went and still lives there. And not only because Vinnytsia is relatively quieter than in Kyiv. But because it’s in a new city Maria found her love. “She came to her friends and met a friend whom she had not seen for a long time. And such a good story developed that feelings arose between us. Now we live together, we support each other – this is super valuable, especially in such a difficult time,” says Maria. “Reflection of personal feelings and experiences” The artist admits that no matter how difficult it is, she always has the strength to paint. Because it really is vocation, the work of a lifetime.” I published my first illustration on a military theme on March 8, 2022. This is a girl with a machine gun, with black hair, wounded, with bruises, and with such an expression on her face: I am beaten, I am bleeding, but I am strong, I hold my weapon tightly and I am ready to defend my Ukraine. All my works are a reflection of my personal feelings and experiences. In the first days it was very scary. But when heroic episodes began to appear among the tragic news – and about the ghost of Kyiv, and about the Snake Island and the Russian ship – it was clear how strong the spirit, patriotism, and desire to defend those people were. All those feelings are embedded in my first war drawing,” Maria Loniuk shares her emotions. Maria’s first illustration on a military theme. The illustration, which the artist calls one of the closest and most iconic for her, is dedicated to horses and a burnt stable. The girl heard the news about the fact that the occupiers burned hundreds of animals alive. I later learned that there were dozens of such cases. “I used to ride horses for more than 10 years, so I love horses immensely and know a lot about their maintenance. And I imagined the horror of the owner of the stable, who could not do anything in that situation. After all, a horse is not a dog that can be thrown into a car and driven away. Evacuating a whole stable of horses is literally utopia, and they are not adapted for driving on the track. She poured out her pain in the picture: the girl is standing and crying, holding a halter for a horse in her hands. And in front of her is her horse, which hugs her neck. But the girl doesn’t see him, because it’s a ghost: the ghost of a murdered pet,” says the artist. Maria’s illustration dedicated to horses and a burnt stable in Gostomel. Another illustration close to the artist was created before 100 days of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. That picture is almost a self-portrait. . “In general, I very often draw girls from my own photos: I take pictures of myself in different poses so that it would be easier for me to recreate hands and faces. Therefore, many of my characters are very similar to me in figure or face. In the self-portrait, I am sitting on the floor, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag, surrounded by torn leaves of the calendar. And the atmosphere is like I’m at the bottom of some river, it’s very dark around. It was such a feeling – even if you start to live a different life, you still need to do something, work, act,” says the artist. Self-portrait of the artist Maria Loniuk admits that hope and faith help not to give up in these terrible days – without them, there is nothing He says that he wants to see the bright future of our country, he wants to be a part of it, to see how the state develops. After all, so much has already been done. “My boyfriend keeps me very strong in a normal moral spirit. He is a realist, he looks at all things very wisely, so he supports his beliefs that everything will be fine with concrete facts. This is very important,” says Maria. She also says that she is very inspired by tropical plants – she has a whole collection of them. Back in April, when the artist was forced to live away from home, she went to water the flowers, and she was very happy. Because it would seem that the war, projectiles are buzzing around, and plants are growing new leaves, living. And this made you realize: you are alive too and you have to live. “No matter what horror happens, no matter what pain and tragedy befell you, life is stronger than all this. And as long as we exist, as long as we plan something for the future, as long as we feel and create something – life goes on,” Maria Lonyuk inspires. *** On the “Pryhystok” website, caring Ukrainians can offer housing for displaced persons by posting a relevant ad. So IDPs can find a temporary shelter in any region of Ukraine or abroad, for a few days or for a longer period. The filter system will help you easily choose the option that meets your criteria and quickly contact the owner. This is a completely volunteer initiative. Its on the first day a full-scale invasion was launched by People’s Deputy of Ukraine Halyna Yanchenko. Later, the “Shelter” program received state support. Homeowners who sheltered displaced persons receive compensation from the state for the payment of communal services – 900 hryvnias per person per month. There are currently about 16,000 ads on the site. Page translated into 40 languages. Viktoriya Yarizhko, specially for UP. Life

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