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Winter Fest: Counterpoint with Ukraine

Lesia Khomenko: "Unidentified Figures"

Unzipped Pavilion, San Jose, California

Curators: Barbara Goldstein, Olga Bekenstein



Unidentified Figures is the West Coast premiere of an exhibition of six larger than life-size paintings by internationally-known artist Lesia Khomenko, who has exhibited her work across the globe, and at the Venice Biennale in 2022. The work will be exhibited in the the Unzipped Pavilion in San Jose's SoFA arts district. Note the exhibition is created from images of Ukrainian soldiers with faces and weaponry partially obscured.

Lesia’s artistic practice is currently focused on the ways of looking at the war and the ways the war represents itself. In her works, the artist combines found images with her own experience and experiences of her nearest and dearest. She collects photographs depicting soldiers with their faces and backgrounds digitally obscured by means of glitching, pixelisation, blurring or hatching. Ukraine’s martial law prohibits taking photos of military facilities, soldiers and equipment on security grounds. In this situation, photography ceases to be an instrument and becomes a dangerous weapon. By turning found photos into paintings, the artist references the historical tradition of depicting war and translates the language of digital imagery into that of painting. Her way of treating the images includes fitting the pixelised fragments in the figures of her characters to dehumanise and deconstruct them.


The “Unzipped Pavilion”
The exhibition is presented in Westbank's "Unzipped Pavilion." at 325 S. First Street, adjacent to several Fest venues. Commissioned by Westbank, Bjarke Ingels’ critically acclaimed 2016 Serpentine Pavilion, dubbed the “unzipped wall”, is made of 1802 stacked fibre glass boxes. Completed in 2016, the pavilion welcomed a record number of visitors during its time displayed in London’s Hyde Park.

Toronto marked the beginning of the Pavilion’s multi-city tour in 2018 — the first of its kind for a Serpentine Pavilion — with its stop in San Jose to host an upcoming exhibition for ‘The Silicon Valley Initiative’, serving as an architectural showcase by day and a destination for unique community programming, dialogue and events by night.

The Silicon Valley Initiative is a partnership between Westbank, Peterson Group, OPTrust, and Urban Community.

This exhibition was mounted with the help of the Institute of Contemporary Art San Jose and Art Builds Community.

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