“I think that tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine will not want to return after the war. In the European Union, they are getting used to a better democratic and material standard, and they will not want to return to a poorer environment that has always been controlled by the oligarchs,” predicts the charming painter Viktoria Gulianová, who fled the “territory of war rage” a total of two times. And here is her refugee story.
Escape from Donbass
The war over Ukraine began in 2014. Russia seized Crimea and fighting broke out over the Donbas, where the majority of the Russian-speaking population lives. The world community did not show much interest in this “local rift”. Viktorie was just finishing elementary school and wanted to do something in the field of visual arts. She drew from an early age and wanted to continue to do so. With a family that is all artistically oriented, her sister is a locally known actress, she was then living in the town of Novyi Svit near Donetsk. After all, part of the family still lives there today.
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“I’m not going to talk about someone’s guilt here. As a teenager, I didn’t deal with these things at all. I just wanted the war to end as soon as possible. It’s just disgusting. I’m a pacifist, so I stand against the rampage here in Ukraine,” she points out. She found a design school in Kharkov, passed the exams, crossed the war front, which was not uncommon at the time, and started living in a dormitory in the second largest city of Ukraine.
Escape from Kharkiv
Her grandmother from Kyiv, a quite renowned lawyer in the capital, supported her a lot during her studies. Later, however, she also found a job in a design company in Kharkiv and wanted to start building her own career by continuing at the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Fine Arts. “I mainly paint futuristic pictures. Steel cities, black holes, space, angels,” he explains, adding that this is how he perceives the possible future of humanity, perhaps somewhere on the far and mysterious side of the moon. She had her first exhibition together with other classmates, “world, wonder”, thanks to friends in the Czech Republic, and right in its beating heart, Prague, thereby completing her higher professional studies.
But the war overtook her even in Kharkiv. During the February 2022 attack on Ukraine, the city was heavily bombed and an invasion began, which only ended in May after the Russian army was pushed out of the city’s vicinity. “I was still there for a while, but then I agreed with my grandmother that I would leave Ukraine. However, it was already unbearable. Everything is broken, as if there is no future,” he points out. And so she got on the bus, as most Ukrainians are used to, and drove through Odessa, Transnistria, Moldova and Romania on…
And another move?
Viktorie recently celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday on the beach by the Black Sea. He lives in Burgas, Bulgaria, where during the day he serves in the restaurant of the hotel where he lives, but in the evenings he paints. A few days ago, she came to visit friends in the “hundred spire”, where we also met. She would like to move from Bulgaria – where she sees no perspective in terms of her profession and lifelong desire, painting – to the Czech Republic. Artists are said to have much greater opportunities and facilities here. “I did modeling, computer design and various exhibitions. I’m not afraid of any creative work,” he says.
But when I joke that mostly artists who worked part of their lives, for example in Paris, rubbed poverty with need or suffered from depression and only became famous after their death, they frown a little. For all of them, for example, Amedeo Modigliani or Vincent van Gogh. “I, on the other hand, am still running away from the war and I would like to have peace from my worries for a while. Nowadays, artists don’t suffer from such poverty anymore, even though we all have a hard time, let alone us refugees,” he laughs. And in the end, just a sigh: “Mainly so that I can see Ukraine again after this article comes out!”
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Ukraine (War in Ukraine)
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author: Jan Rychetsky