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Contemporary Ukrainian Art in Times of War

17.03.2023 to 17.03.2024

The Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst in the Bode-Museum houses artefacts dating from the 3rd to the 18th century. Despite their historical distance from the present day and the recurring Christian motifs, these examples of European cultural history nonetheless remain surprisingly relevant today. A considerable number of the representations and themes employed in the works serve as a foundation and source of inspiration for the art produced by contemporary Ukrainian artists. As such, the collections held in the Bode-Museum constitute something of an unexpected tool for enhancing our understanding of contemporary Ukrainian art. It is for this reason that, one year on from the onset of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the Bode-Museum has invited ten Ukrainian artists to enter into a dialogue with selected artworks from its own collections.

Within the context of this project, religious art provides a powerful tool for illustrating the central issues that are being faced by European societies in the 21st century. While the collections of the Bode-Museum shed light upon situations of social conflict and their corresponding artistic references from pre-1800 Europe, contemporary Ukrainian art creatively interprets similar themes, while simultaneously maintaining a sense of historical continuity. Against the backdrop of the successive incursions mounted by Russian forces into Ukrainian state territory since 2014, the works presented in this exhibition – which were created between 2014 and 2022 – provide an evocative, emotional reflection of the drastically transformed life and turbulent spiritual landscape of a young European nation.

The artists involved in the exhibition are Serhii Druziaka, Oleg Gryshchenko, Alisa Lozhkina, Serhii Lytvynov, Sergii Radkevych, Oleksii Revika, Konstantin Sinitskiy, Maryna Solomennykova, Alla Sorochan, and Matvei Vaisberg.

Almost all of the artists involved currently reside in Ukraine. Due to the logistical difficulties posed by the current situation in terms of transporting their paintings, graphic artworks, and sculptures to Germany, these works are displayed in the exhibition as photographic reproductions. The artworks enter into dialogue with other existing works like the Schutzmantelmadonna (The Ravensburg Virgin of Mercy) by Michel Erhart (1480), Hans Leinberger’s Christus im Elend (Christ in Misery, c. 1525), the Schildträger (The Shield Bearers) by Tullio Lombardo (1480/1500), and the wooden high relief depicting the Liberation of a Besieged City (Egypt, 5th century).


The exhibition, which has now been incorporated into the Bode-Museum’s permanent collection, also provides explanatory notes to accompany the works, in which the participating artists are given a chance to comment directly. These explanatory notes will be provided in German, English, and Ukrainian.


The exhibition Timeless: Contemporary Ukrainian Art in Times of War is curated by Olesia Sobkovych, from the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, Kyiv.

The project is financed by the Ukraine funding line of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.

A special presentation of the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The Bode-Museum on the Museumsinsel Berlin
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / David von Becker
Ansicht der Sammlungspräsentation mit der „Tänzerin“ von Antonio Canova
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Bode-Museum / Wolfgang Gülcker

Permanent exhibition

Christ the Merciful, Detail, Icon / mosaic made of glass, in base of wax, on wood (around 1100)
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst/ Jörg P. Anders

Permanent exhibition

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