Ukrainian Artist Redraws the American Flag in Search of Liberty

Fragment of Liberty Flag (2014) by Mykola Zhuravel/Daria Tischenko-Zhuravel (copyright 2014 courtesy of Bezpala Brown Gallery) (CNW Group/Bezpala Brown Gallery)

TORONTO, March 3, 2014 /CNW/ - Mykola Zhuravel feels for his country. Based in Kyiv, Ukraine, he has joined with millions of other Ukrainians in the hope that the most recent upheaval in his homeland will finally lead his country on a path to respect human rights and the basic dignities that should accompany citizenship. Perhaps prophetically, this iconic Ukrainian artist, together with his wife Daria Tischenko-Zhuravel, has created a new American flag where the stars are replaced with chalices grasped by female hands. These chalices are a symbol of spiritual fulfilment of cultural and historical values. Communication leads to movement, which leads to progress and ultimately liberty. The stripes are inset with images of libertarian women garbed in the clothes of ancient times, goddesses communicating with each other, promoting liberty, freedom and transparency.

Just as the Statue of Liberty is intended to enlighten the world, this metaphorical depiction of the American flag is a call for help and guidance from the nation that has stood for the defence of human rights and the protection of democratic freedoms and liberty. To the Zhuravels, the women of America are its backbone, hence the presentation of women as the guiding light toward liberty. The Zhuravels present America as strong in the hope that America will continue to sustain its role as the defender of these rights.

Zhuravel has exhibited extensively internationally including representing Ukraine in the 2011 Venice Biennale. Bezpala Brown Gallery (BBG) has been proud to represent Zhuravel in a number of Toronto-based exhibitions. Zhuravel has Canadian roots. In the reverse of the more common occurrence, Zhuravel's grandfather emigrated from Canada to Ukraine in 1916. Zhuravel's studio is near Independence Square (Maidan) where he has been a daily witness to the EuroMaidan protests and ultimately the uprooting of the Yanukovych government.

While Zhuravel can look back at Canada, BBG has Ukrainian roots (among others). As the tensions rise within Ukraine, BBG is travelling to New York to participate in Scope New York 2014. When the director of BBG, Lyudmila Bezpala-Brown saw the Zhuravels' flag design, she immediately placed it as the centrepiece of the BBG New York showcase. The Liberty Flag will debut at Scope on March 6th as a statement of support for EuroMaidan; as a call for assistance from the international community; in general, to generate continued awareness of Ukraine's plight; and to visually represent Ukrainians' desire to be finally freed from repression, tyranny and corruption.

Ms. Bezpala-Brown commented, "Ukrainians are facing rising tensions and economic strain. There are restrictions on access to cash and foreign currencies. Artists such as Zhuravel, who rely on their art sales to generate income, are facing severe economic constraints in Ukraine that inhibit their ability to travel and participate in international exhibitions as they normally would. The Liberty Flag is a moving visualization from one of Ukraine's modern masters. Our hope is not only that it generates attention, but also that it generates sales."

SOURCE Bezpala Brown Gallery

Image with caption: "Fragment of Liberty Flag (2014) by Mykola Zhuravel/Daria Tischenko-Zhuravel (copyright 2014 courtesy of Bezpala Brown Gallery) (CNW Group/Bezpala Brown Gallery)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140303_C8620_PHOTO_EN_37426.jpg

For further information:

Mila Bezpala-Brown, Gallery Director, (416) 907-6875, mila@bezpalabrown.com. Bezpala Brown Gallery, 17 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1M2, www.bezpalabrown.com