Black and white abstract works created using gesso and acrylic colors mounted on hardboard can offer a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of themes related to war. The absence of color in Sofiia Yesakova’s “iconic” war landscapes allows for a focus on form, texture, and composition, emphasizing the stark contrasts and emotional impact of the subject matter.
The use of gesso and acrylic colors on hardboard provides a solid and durable foundation for the artwork. Gesso, a primer often used in painting, creates a smooth surface that allows for the application of acrylic with precision and control. Yesakova’s recent work cycle analyzing iconic images related to war, suggest that the works engage with widely recognized and culturally significant representations associated with conflict. The term “iconic” in this context refers to images that have become highly symbolic, often representing specific events, historical moments, or broader themes related to war and its consequences.
There are no direct visual references as to which war specifically is meant, the surfaces are just covered with traces of pigment. If earlier in art history war dedicated vast canvasses used to represent heroic battles with soldiers and important looking kings or generals leading to victories, Sofiia Yesakova’s iconic war landscapes do not glorify military maneuvers but are more likely to render sadness and mourning through the excessive use of black about the tragic losses and devastations that are caused by wars.
By exploring these iconic images in an abstract manner, the artist offers a fresh perspective and invites viewers to reexamine their understanding and emotional response to war. The absence of explicit representation and the emphasis on abstraction can evoke a sense of ambiguity and open-ended interpretation, allowing for a deeper exploration of the complexities and human experiences associated with conflict.
In art history, these works may be situated within the broader tradition of abstract expressionism or conceptual art. Artists like Kazimir Malevich, with his iconic Black Square, or the monochromatic paintings of Ad Reinhardt and Yves Klein, have employed black and white, as well as abstraction, to convey powerful messages.
Born in Kyiv, UA (1998)
Lives and works in Berlin, DE
2016 – 2021 Master of Fine Arts. National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, Kyiv, Ukraine (NAFAA). Studied on department of monumental painting named after Professor Mykola Storozhenko
Selected group exhibitions
2017 “Silver Easel” with support of the BROVDI.ART Foundation (Diploma of the laureate “Silver Easel”, special award of partners, artists Tamara and Alexander Babak) Uzhorod, Ukraine
2019 “Exhibition-competition named after O. Murashko” (NAFAA) Kyiv, Ukraine
2019 “REVIEW (of) THE ACADEMY”. Self-organized student exhibition in National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, Kyiv, Ukraine
2021 “The sky above us” exhibition in Coworking PEREMOGA, Kyiv, Ukraine
2021 “Ivory black”. Self-organized exhibition in National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, Kyiv, Ukraine
2021 “OUT AND ABOUT”, The fourth art fest of Contemporary Women’s Art, Modern Art Research Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine
2021 “365 day after”, International art project, MITEC, Kyiv, Ukraine
2021 Diplom “Altar in a modern context. Part 1, 2, 3.”, NAFAA, Kyiv, Ukraine
2022 “Tranzit zone. Exit gate № 2022”, MITEC, Kyiv, Ukraine
2022 “Divina commedia”, Modern Art Research Institute, Kyiv, Ukraine
2022 “Lviv Biennale”, Lviv, Kyiv (UA), Košice (SK), Pilsen (CZ), Chicago, NYC (USA), Tel Aviv (IL), Antwerp (BE)
2022 “Open day in Ukrainian Cultural Community”, Berlin, Germany
2022 “Art Biesenthal”, Wehrmuehle, Biesenthal, Germany
2022 “UKRAINIZATION”, Galerie SLP, Berlin, Germany
2022 “Du weißt, dass du ein Mensch bist. Points of Resistance V”, Zionskirche, Berlin, Germany
2022 “Pandora’s Winter Selection” , Untergeschoss der Pandora Art Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2023 “Quicky – why not?”, Galerie Mazzoli, Berlin, Germany
2023 “Roaminale #2. Screen.” Roam Space, Berlin, Germany
2023 “Living solidarity day”, MOOS space, Berlin, Germany
2023 “When the firebird flies”, Kunstverein Meissen, Meissen, Germany
2023 “The future is not ours to see”, Upstairs – Gallery, Oldenburg, Germany
Solo-| duo exhibitions
2022 “RAUSCHEN”, Kunstraum R52L, Berlin, Germany
2022 “Cargo – 200. HAUNT Table #6”, Galerie HAUNT, Berlin, Germany
2022 “Window Project/Fenster project”, Prenzlauer studio, Berlin, Germany
2022 “Cargo – 200. Experimental projections on the surfaces”, Leibnizstraße 57, Berlin, Germany
Residences / Auszeichnungen
2018 “Velikyy Pereviz art residence”, Poltavs’Ka Oblast’, Ukraine
2021 “Soshenko 33 art residence”, Kyiv, Ukraine
2022 “UCC Berlin”, Berlin, Germany
2023 Förderpreis Junge Kunst 2023, Kunstverein Bagatelle
2023 Begehungen, Palais Lichtenstein, Chemnitz, Germany
Publications and media
The Catskills.Tранслювати Українy | Broadcast Ukraine
DAZED. Summer issue 2022. The art of conflict.
TASC AT HAND 2022
Sofiia Yesakova is a ukrainian, multi-disciplinary artist based in Berlin. She uses language of minimalism, but also focuses on expressing thoughts and emotions, reflecting and conveying the atmosphere, that is, what minimalism has tried to deny and possibly suppress. For Sofiia, the balance between emotionality and rationality is important (the direction that prefers the mind to the senses in cognition, turns away from sensory reality). Now she works a lot with gesso. “In recent years, I have been inspired by the idea of ciphering and creating a certain structure of visual storytelling. I was inspired to do this by the engineering drawings of my partner, who is a civil engineer by profession. These drawings are also a certain cipher that few can read. “In recent years, I have been inspired by the idea of ciphering and creating a certain structure of visual storytelling. I was inspired to do this by the engineering drawings of my partner, who is a civil engineer by profession. These drawings are also a certain cipher that few can read.”