How to Meet an Angel (Home)
While I was painting the other works of my Ukraine series, my studio became my safe heaven - a place of unequivocal importance - in a way I haven’t experienced it before: it juxtaposed the acute awareness of people out there losing absolutely everything. So, the setting of this painting became the intimate space of my studio.
When Sky news released some photographs in their “Ukraine War in Pictures: Fifty Days of Devastation, Death and Destruction”, two photos in particular hit me with their utter surrealism: both were taken in Borodyanka, one on the 11th March, and the other from the same spot in 5th April. Both had the same pair of badly misshapen swings in the rubble laden foreground, and a block of flats in the background, which had a section completely missing: only one concrete “unit” still hanging in mid air, frozen in time, with a seemingly intact door and a window left open to the sky, confusing inside and out… The photos brought to mind of the Kabakov’s work titled “The Man Who Flew into Space From His Apartment” (the Ukrainian couple made works around escapes, and destruction). They used another theme also: “Jacob’s ladder” (that appears in Chagall’s works too, coincidence?) bearing the title “How to Meet an Angel” - the horrible irony of it in the context of my work made it the perfect title, one for me to borrow with my bow to the well respected Ukrainian artist couple from the USSR, who did manage to build a new life for themselves.
From the swings to the ladder, and back, I kept on seeing - in my mind - the survivors of this conflict: the kids, who would not understand much of what is unfolding around them… I heard them asking “Tell me Mama, do they have swings, where we go, too?” A most important question in any child’s mind at the age of 3, I assume. And that became my third “working” title for this piece. I got rid of it in the end, but wanted to tell this story none the less.