In the first days of the war Hungarian photographer András Földes has published the photo of woman who feed her 3 month baby in Kyiv underground during bombing the city. The photo resonated with people in Ukraine and in the whole World, on this grounds the painter from Dnipro Marina Solomennikova made illustration, where she portrayed woman in the image of Madonna feeding her baby. We talked with Marina about this and another works, the position of illustration during the war and help for armed forces of Ukraine.
— So, I will start with the most popular illustration that you have made — “Ukrainian Madonna”! By the way, also people name it “Kyiv Madonna”, and “Madonna from Kyiv underground”… Which name is correct?
— In the Instagram I named it like “Ukrainian Madonna”, so I even don’t know. I think, that the media named it like “Madonna from Kyiv underground”. Here as who likes.
— Where did you see the photo and what impressed you?
— Scrolling the news feed I got the photo with this woman and her baby, who was hiding in Kyiv underground from bombing. The figure of this woman was so innocent, so to my mind, it has lightning even without the illustration.
— This illustration appeared in catholic church in Naples. Tell us how it happened?
— Fr. James Martin, SJ has shared with this illustration, who is helper in public relations by Pope of Rome also shared on Facebook
and a journalist from Greek Catholic publishing house has told me about this. She asked me about the interview and this way the illustration became more and more popular. Then a man from Napoli wrote me, he wanted to hand out small leaflets in support of Ukraine with this illustration at a service in the church. But i did not know that he is priest and also will print such a huge picture. On his page on the Facebook I saw a real size of it and was really impressed! Actually, this picture is not icon it is more figure. A church service was simply held near her, in support of Ukraine, she embodied all mothers, people and our country as a whole.
© Vyacheslav Okun, SJ
— Did you get the reaction from the author of this photo or from the woman who is showed on the photo?
— I tried to find them before I have been starting to make the illustration. But it was very difficult. There was no pinned either woman or photographer. But then the internet power brought us all together, I corresponded for a long time with András Földes and Tanya Bliznyuk. They are very nice and interesting people.
— How do you choose a plot or phenomenon that is reflected in the illustrations, and why don't you draw to order?
— Mostly artists are silence, i'm so sure. For me, it is much easier to express my feelings and emotions making the pictures. When i see the news that “touch” me or when I feel sadness or anger so I start to draw it. I don’t draw to order cause physically I will not cope with it. In addition I have my basic work where I and my colleagues make extra money and help to army by selling works
through the Instagram. We send 100% to army!
— During the war it is hard to find some inspiration or power for work and for another job. How are you with this? And here do you find inspiration?
— Yes, sometimes it is hard to find power and make something and usually, I draw at night, after work. I do sketch to bring people the truth from all over the world and what is going on in Ukraine. Usually people don’t read texts but when they saw the illustration in the social networks, they stop, to look at. This way they can see how horrible the fear that all ukrainian people are experiencing now. The illustration is the tool which we can unite people in some way.
— How does appear “Honey, I am out the politic”?
— For the first time I was asked about my other job! It is collective image of Russian pop stars who choose silence way and did not tell anything about the war. Participants of the show “What happened next”? Anastasia Ivleeva and other. They are afraid about their ass and keep silence! (You can cut out about the ass.)
— Who are the best illustrators in the world and why?
— Wow! Surely Ukrainian illustrators! People who are surrounded with sirens, explosions, and who have to stay at the undergrounds, they are able to share emotions and content more through the illustrations than famous artists from abroad. For example: @bright_arts
— Finish this interview by 3 words.
— Fuck them, Vova! (You can cut it off too.)
© Marina Solomennikova
Interview: Sergey Gutakovsky
Editor: Sergey Fomkin