"Ruin and reproduction."


October 30, 2019


“Art is a form of resistance. And the principal subject matter of resistance is resistance against death.” Nicolas Bourriaud


Serhiy Savchenko’s series “Ruins and Reproduction” was created over a one-year period between 2018-2019. It consists of 6 large scale diptychs each portraying the landscape of major cities destroyed in World War II. The locations are Dresden, Coventry, Warsaw, Kyiv, Hiroshima, and Gdansk. The series’ permanent location is in the Savchenko gallery in Gdansk, Poland.


The six diptychs were created as part of a wider project entitled “Cities in the Context of Civilizational Conflicts” that took place in 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Each piece consists of two adjacent panels sized 180X 120 cm, with an overall size of 180 X 240cm.


Savchenko uses photographic references to create realistic yet highly abstracted images of the global catastrophe of civilisation on the macro level.  Yet the works are filled with the emotions of Romanticism embodied in his meticulous study of ruins as individually beautiful particles of disintegrated communities. The artist claims that wars destroy and depersonify any kind of identity. Everything becomes blurred. The series is created in such a manner that each individual piece of every diptych can be combined with any other piece in the series, thus emphasizing the magnitude of similarity of sites after the disintegration of their individual personal features.


Savchenko’s recognizable trademarks are his painterly technique and his personality as an artist. He employs a gestural expressionist manner to apply paint and intuitive combination of colors to create seemingly monochromatic images that on closer inspection reveal an astonishingly rich palette of color. Similar to Malevich’s famous Black Square, Savchenko’s blacks are quintessential combinations of almost all existing colors of the spectrum. The manner of painting is both innovative and controversial. He combines oil-based paints together with the antagonistic acrylic water-based paints to create cracks and flakes on his paintings, thus portraying the physical effect of destruction and disintegration generated by conflicting media.


Savchenko’s identity as an artist can be distinguished by his ability to produce a detailed and realistic image working in a completely abstract manner. He seems to be able to see his subject matter from both global and detail perspective. All his works are reflection of this powerful combination of talent and skill.


Almost sublime, the paintings afford views from the tall floor-to-ceiling glass windows of the modern skyscrapers down on urban landscapes as if they were archaeological sites designed for a study of the history of humanity. They also resemble the view from the future to the past where the viewer is situated in a certain present moment between past and future. Savchenko argues for the importance of the viewer’s active participation in art. He removes himself from the scene leaving the room for study and reflection. If art is a form of resistance against death, then Serhiy Savchenko’s art is definitely an important part of it.

Copyright 2019, Olena Grubb,

MAAB Sotheby’s Institute of Art

Redaction Nick Roth