First published: Winter 2023/24
Even as she fled her homeland after the Russian invasion, Ukrainian artist Tetiana Odegova-Nebogatykh was making art in support of women
"When I turned 38, I wasn’t sure if I was doing enough in life. I realised I had
to try art. I was ashamed because I had no [art] education. I cried... and then I started working. I somehow believed in myself,” says Tetiana Odegova- Nebogatykh. She began to draw on August 30, 2021.
Odegova-Nebogatykh in Ukraine in 2022, just before the invasion
Born in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, in 1983, she had graduated early with training in rhythmic gymnastics and a Master of Sports from Zaporizhzhia National University. After ten years as a dance teacher, she turned to choreography, and then changed career again to become a fashion stylist and art director. However, a few years later, Odegova-Nebogatykh began to find her work superficial and meaningless – at least when measured against her unslaked desire to be involved in more serious issues. She wanted to highlight the disadvantage and violence suffered by certain groups in society at the hands of the dominant patriarchy. She started to work on a group project, the aim of which was to address and publicise the issue of protecting young women from sexual assault. Odegova-Nebogatykh’s first drawings and textile installations came about as part of the project.
Humiliated, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 57 x 71 in. / 145 x 180 cm
She was afraid of failing but her first artistic attempts sparked in Odegova-Nebogatykh a passion to create that has continued to this day. She began drawing on a daily basis, on paper and using digital programmes on her phone. She staged herself with her work in different settings, taking photos and making short films. She quickly found her own style – powerful, combative and direct.
Untitled, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 63 x 78.5 in. / 160 x 200 cm
She always focussed on girls and women, pain and injury, and the right to protect virginity. Sometimes she used panty liners as her canvas – for her, they carried meaning as, worn close to the body, they can provide evidence of sex crimes. Her work also signalled the burgeoning strength and defensiveness of women in a chauvinistic environment. Of herself, she says, “In reality I am not very brave. But I have power when I paint.” And she loves “the ability to speak and hide at the same time”.
by FLORIAN REESE
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #117.