Lesia Khomenko: "Unidentified Figures" - San Jose Jazz

Lesia Khomenko: "Unidentified Figures"

Winter Fest: Counterpoint with Ukraine
Wed, Feb 15
4pm showtime (Pacific)
Free Admission / "Unzipped Pavilion"

Exhibition Hours
February 15–March 5
Wednesday–Friday, 4–9pm

For this special Winter Fest, we present 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 and an artist talk will take place on March 4. 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.

“Contemplating the original photos, I see that retouching doesn’t remove strategic information from them; on the contrary, it adds new information that layers up just like characters’ skins in video games. Thus, pixels represent a kind of a ‘superpower’ owned by these ‘superheroes’. In the digitalised world of information warfare, pop culture exists side by side with a real war, and I, being an evacuated civilian, tend to mix up the images. I want my characters to look scary, I want them to make any ‘brainimical’* Russian looking at my works drown in dehumanising agony.” –Lesia Khomenko

* i.e. brainwashed + inimical

Lesia Khomenko (b. 1980 in Kyiv) is a multidisciplinary artist who reconsiders the role of painting – she deconstructs narrative images and transforms paintings into objects, installations, performances, or videos. Her interest lies in revealing tools of visual manipulation in the context of history-making and mythmaking. She graduated from the National Academy of Fine Art and Architecture in Kyiv, 2004. A member of R.E.P. group since 2004, she is also a co-founder of curatorial union HUDRADA, a self-educational community based on interdisciplinary cooperation, 2008. Khomenko is an initiator and program director of the “Contemporary Art” course at the Kyiv Academy of Media Arts. Her works were shown in many exhibitions, including at the Lviv Municipal Art Center, 2021 (solo); PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, 2018 (solo); MNAC, Bucharest, 2016; The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, 2015; CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, 2014; The Future Generation Art Prize@Venice2013; Kyiv Biennial 2012 (main project); National Art Museum of Ukraine, 2012; Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kyiv, 2011 (solo); Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden, 2011; Fridman gallery, New York, 2022; MUMOK, Vienna, 2009; Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, 2008; De Appel, Amsterdam, 2008; Ukrainian pavilion at Venice Biennale, 2007 (a collaboration with Mark Titchner); and Kunsthalle Vienna, 2006. She was a finalist for the Pinchuk Art Prize in 2009, 2011, and 2013, and a 2016 finalist for the Kazimir Malevich Award, Kyiv. She lives and works in Kyiv – since March 2022, she has temporarily been in the West.


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.


Art Exhibition, Ukrainian Artist

Winter Fest

The "cool" counterpart to our annual Summer Fest, Winter Fest presents the best new discoveries in jazz, blues, Latin, salsa, Americana and more.

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Special Thanks

Sponsored by Westbank

Abierto Funds
Sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Art San Jose

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