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A man stands in front of several paintings.
Photograph: Courtesy of Sunflower Network | Paintings by Burenko.

See heart-wrenching artwork by Ukrainian artists at this NYC gallery show

Proceeds will help build a hospital in Ukraine.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

In his studio in Kyiv, an artist called Burenko paints poignant landscapes of lifeless homes. In the basement of an art-gallery-turned-bomb-shelter, Nikita Kadan creates disorienting charcoal drawings of desperate pleas. In the conflict zone, Dom Marker photographs life and loss. 

These works and many others produced in the active warzone in Ukraine are now on display in Manhattan's Hudson Square neighborhood as part of Sonya Gallery's latest exhibition. The show, which features contemporary Ukrainian artists, will benefit the non-profit Sunflower Network's efforts to build a hospital in Brody, Ukraine. 

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The exhibition is titled "Thousand Yard Stare: Ukraine 2023," a reference to a World War II-era phrase that described the dissociated stare of soldiers suffering from PTSD. The show intends to explore the physical and psychological effects of war for Ukrainians at home and abroad. 

"Today, during what is referred to as the 'First Social Media War,' the thousand yard stare may also refer to those watching news of war helplessly on their phones and TVs," event organizers say.

Two people sit in a car in a black-and-white photo. One holds a gun out the window.
Photograph: Courtesy of Sunflower Network | Dom Marker "Mother’s Day" 2023

The show features eight artists, many of whom created work over the past year in the active warzone. An installation piece by Sasha Kurmaz titled "Russian Literature and Genocide" is described as the curatorial heart of the exhibition. Featuring a photograph of slain civilians, the frame of which rests on top of stacks of Russian novels, the work explores how historical Russian imperial agendas have led to the current invasion.

Artist Julia Beliaeva's digital print of the metal shield held by Kyiv’s statue of Mother Ukraine represents a decoupling from the USSR. A suite of 24 watercolors by Maria Kulikovska bears the artist’s soul, reflecting on experiences of war and relocation during a nomadic period as a refugee in which she gave birth to her first child. Similarly, the abstract watercolors of Katerina Ganchak represent a subconscious struggle for the New York-based artist living away from home. Meanwhile, Aljoscha's acrylic glass sculptures focus on "bioism," the exploration of new forms of life for an organic future, offering glimmers of hope. 

Artwork hangs in an industrial-looking gallery.
Photograph: Courtesy of Sunflower Network

All works are for sale with prices ranging from $1,500 to $19,000. Proceeds will benefit Sunflower Network's Project Horizon initiative, a public-private partnership to build a WHO-standard hospital in Brody, located on the northwestern area of Ukraine.

This is the fourth fundraising exhibition by Sonya Gallery. The first, launched last fall in the East Village, was the debut event for the Sunflower Network, founded by New York native Dustin Ross.

So far, Sunflower Network has raised more than $3,500,000 to provide critical relief in Ukraine, such as 4x4 vehicles, ambulances, power generators, medical supplies and hygiene products. 

Back and white framed text about the war in Ukraine.
Photograph: Courtesy of Sunflower Network | Nikita Kadan "Text Works" 2023

After "Thousand Yard Stare: Ukraine 2023," another art exhibition will pop up in the same space, this one featuring paintings by emerging artists from around the world in support of Ukraine. Both shows were curated by Jack Chase and Dylan Siegel.

"Through this presentation of contemporary Ukrainian artists, Sonya Gallery aims to not only raise essential funds for immediate and long-term impact, but also fosters a profound sense of shared humanity across borders," the curators said in a statement.

Find Sonya Gallery at 555 Greenwich Street at the Charlton Street entrance. "Thousand Yard Stare: Ukraine 2023" runs through November 4. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm.

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