Dream Weavers

UART puts Ukrainian art on the virtual map. Find out more about Ukraine’s tradition, culture, and identity, and help to spread the word!
BY Ava Svobodová

Featuring Artworks from
Darya Nakvakina
Denys Metelin
Dmytro Kryshovsky
Nata Levitasova
Olga Kovtun
Sergii Simutin
Tanya Lytko

UART is a platform conceived by Helen and Andi Verdi, built for Ukrainian artists and art lovers. It comprises offline exhibitions, a virtual gallery, a web store, and an NFT market. War and peace, life and death, beauty and monstrosity, past and future, faith and hope — those are the topics the contemporary authors capture in their works. But more than that, UART supports the growth of Ukrainian artists. Ukrainian art epitomizes strong-minded people, tradition, and identity. It also depicts a renaissance in the Ukrainian people’s talent and worldview. By sharing these intimate reflections, UART seeks to rejuvenate and enlighten a war-tired world.

Opening spread of the interview with UART, an art platform showcasing Ukrainian artists. Spread from AVESSA Magazine Summer 2023 edition.
Opening spread of the interview with UART, an art platform showcasing Ukrainian artists. Spread from AVESSA Magazine Summer 2023 edition.

Where were you when the war started?

Helen: We slept peacefully in our bed in Odesa and woke up at 5 in the morning, with all of Ukraine, from the roar of exploding bombs. The horror of what was happening through social networks.

Paintings by Ukrainian artist Olga Kovtun.

On the left: “Birds of Harmony”, on the right: “Tree of Life”.

What do you remember about the first weeks of the war

Andy: We sat in the basement of the parking lot for an average of fifteen hours a day with neighbors, children, the elderly, and pets, sleeping in clothes and feeling general panic, fear of the unknown, and watching the horror of what was happening through social networks.

Paintings by Ukrainian artist Tanya Lytko.

On the left: “Moments”, on the right: “Everything will be Ukraine”.

How did the idea of the UART project come about?

Helen: Two months of such a life have passed. It became clear to Ukrainians that this was not a war but a genocide of the nation. The horrors of the Russian massacre in Bucha were revealed, and you know, probably, the soul and heart suggested that such a project would be the voice of the people, which should sound to the whole world. After all, you can show all your feelings with art: the pain, fear, strength, and will of Ukrainians. And I started contacting artists, looking for them on social networks, talking about the idea of our UART platform, and all the artists answered “YES”. So we collected the first 30 artworks in a few weeks, and by chance, a local curator contacted us through my friend in New York, and we did the first exhibition together.

We worked days and nights. We wrote to artists and curators and communicated with different countries. As a result, we got the second, third, and fourth exhibitions in Israel, Italy, and Houston (USA): finally, there were fifteen exhibitions, several of the events we held online in the metaverse. We made one of the last in Miami, together with Travel to Art magazine. Then we organized an intimate project, “Parallels,” and showed talented photographer Liza Bogacheva.

A collaboration between DressX and UART
A collaboration between DressX and UART

Helen, what are you proud of?

Helen: I am proud of this diversity as it provides opportunities for projects. The UART x DressX collaboration is successful. Four of our artists have drawn collections of virtual clothing that can be easily bought on the world-famous digital fashion marketplace.

Our project is aimed at helping artists. I remember the terrible first months of the war when we were completely lost. None of us were prepared for war, and many creative people needed to have the minimum provisions for life, even to buy paints and canvases. And when they saw that people in the world were buying their art and wanting to help financially, it was crucial.

Paintings by Ukrainian artist Dmytro Kryshovsky.

On the left: “Russian Warship”, on the right: “Rural Pointe Shoes”.

What about you, Andy?

Andy: I remember we sold the work of one artist in the USA, and the borders are closed, and it is not clear how to deliver the work … And you know, the buyer waited for four months, and he understood what a vital help he had done. We are grateful to so many people around the world. Artists’ works can be bought through our website uart.gallery, it’s great that we can use technology for international support.

I’m also proud of how we showcased the graphic work by artist Kryshovsky “Russian warship, fuck you!” in Texas, where she aroused incredible public interest. Now, paintings by artists from the UART platform are on permanent display at the Ukrainian Consulate in Houston.

Recently, the most valuable media in Britain released their publications about us. The news spread against the backdrop of the war anniversary in Ukraine. People of the world must know what Ukrainians feel at critical moments. Who can express it better than an artist?

Did you face any challenges?

Helen: Looking back, a lot has been accomplished this year. But there is no achievement without regret. The biggest disappointment during this time was our project Butcha.in.ua, an exhibition we were refused to display by all galleries and representative offices of Ukraine abroad. Because of the content, you know, so dedicated to the tragedy, so true. Therefore, we made it open to all people of the world online. Come in, take a look. Would this be too sensitive content for you as well?

Paintings by Ukrainian artist Nata Levitasova.

On the left: “Dawn Over Kyiv”, on the right: “Carpathian Village”.

What do you think about Ukrainian contemporary art?

Andy: It should take its place in world art. Art is the voice of the nation! It’s the expression of brave, young, and free people. At the same time, our artists’ performance technique is on top. Visiting many exhibitions worldwide, I proudly say that Ukrainians are unique and original.

And also, Ukrainian art is a good investment now, while it is just beginning to appear on the world stage, and over the years, after our victory, it will only rise in price.

"Ignition" - painting by Ukrainian artist Sergii Simutin
"Ignition" - painting by Ukrainian artist Sergii Simutin

Are you tired?

Helen: Yes, a bit… Over the past year and a half, we have continued to work and do projects to help society and the army. During this year, we all got tired and matured. This is a lesson that Ukrainians and the whole world need to learn. And it’s impossible to get tired of our dream at UART, to deliver Ukrainian art to the world! Each new exhibition, project, and every sold painting adds the belief in the correctness of the chosen path.

"Spring" - painting by Ukrainian artist Darya Nakvakina
"Spring" - painting by Ukrainian artist Darya Nakvakina

What are your plans for the future?

Helen: We believe in our country, society, and artists. We feel our platform’s mission is essential. People of the world learn about Ukrainian art, and this trend will continue. One of the areas that we are developing on the platform is training. Master classes and lectures, practice, fast applicable, modern, about what is relevant.

"Ukrainian Dream" - painting by Ukrainian artist Denys Metelin
"Ukrainian Dream" - painting by Ukrainian artist Denys Metelin

And the Ukraine of the future, what is it like to you?

Andy: You know, we do not doubt our victory! Yes, the price of this victory is enormous, terrible, and terrifying, and that is why we have no other chance after the victory. Ukraine must preserve its culture, take on new transformations, and show the world that we are not second or lesser brother. This is the culture of free, self-sufficient, strong, and beautiful people, and it is modern. It deserves to be represented at the top world exhibitions and become an equal part of world civilization. We believe in this, and for this, we continue to make UART. Join us!

Paintings by Ukrainian artist Tanbelia.

On the left: “Wisteria”, on the right: “Cherry”.

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