Fast, easy memory transfer

2022, paper, acrylic 220×170

Photo for the painting Fast, easy memory transfer


The universe before our great-grandmothers

2023, paper, acrylic 100 x 160 cm

From the series “Ultra-naivety”


2022, paper, acrylic 85 x 175 cm

Individual suffering

2023, paper, acrylic 185 x 125 cm

Tenderness cannot be a tool of protection

2023, paper, acrylic, 29 x 42 cm

Etudes from Timisoara

2023, paper, acrylic
“Comenduirea Garnizoanei”, “Muzeul Revolutiei”, “Parcul Civic”, “Statuia Decebalus Per Scorilo”

photos from the group exhibition and charity auction “soundless to deafness”, NAFAA exhibition hall, 2023


My work focuses on observing people and the space around them. I study the relationship between the universal and the individual, however the story of the personal takes up a larger part of my practice. Painting gives the opportunity to say goodbye to the personal, and this loss is necessary to give up the dominance of one’s own self. Instead, I become someone’s interlocutor who listens and sympathizes. The desire to sympathize intensified after a full-scale invasion.

Before that, I mostly documented spaces. I created mirages from pieces of observations, adding living beings as a staff to compositions with cities or empty rooms. While staying in Kyiv at the beginning of March 2022, I helped artists that I knew to move their works to safer places. While observing their trembling attitude towards the works, the sense of meaninglessness and uselessness of the artistic profession during the wartime began to disappear, and the conversations about the importance of telling about the war through art supported me. One of the artworks of that period is Quick, Easy Move of Memory. In the first months of the Russian full-scale invasion, it was unclear whether I would leave Kyiv. Everything was uncertain, because it was not known whether the threat would be growing. However, in this work, I copied part of my dorm room in life size on thin kraft paper. The painting of a dorm room rolls up and can easily change locations with me if needed. In a sense, the change of medium from a bulky canvas to lightweight paper was driven by the impressions I got when I was taking my friends’ artworks out of the studio and thinking about the need for mobility.

I have an experience of living under the Russian occupation for several months in Severodonetsk in 2014, but my memory of it is closed. There are only certain fragments in my brain that I can remember such as the changing of the country’s flags around the city, a russian tank near my window, and a meeting with a friend in a crater from a bomb. When will this mental reaction of trauma displacement stop working and give me my memory back? Perhaps that day I will become a completely different person (or I will understand why I am the way I am).

I don’t often mention my hometown in my works, I don’t want to highlight something “of my own”. But, for example, my work The Universe Before Our Great-Grandmothers was inspired by my childhood memories of Severodonetsk. Usually, when talking about this region, the fact that many factories, plants, and buildings were built by Europeans or Americans (so-called “western capitalists”) starting in the second half of the 19th century escaped from a Soviet person’s attention. I also didn’t know about it for a while. To tell about this part of history – the Soviet propaganda that continued to live on even among my generation in independent Ukraine, is depicted in my work as a museum display case with sand, almost like the one I saw in a museum during my annual school field trips. This showcase was placed at the beginning of the city museum at the Azot plant, and was the exhibit that began the typical story about the construction of this mono-town through the prism of the Soviet myth about Donbas as “a space of labor glory”, which was built “from nothing.”

A thematically and figuratively significant place in my practice is devoted to the manifestation of human feelings, emotional states and social aspects of life. I am talking about the common and the personal through the state of landscapes and their coexistence with the world’s architectural or natural objects. When speaking about the common, I don’t highlight individual experiences or feelings, but rather scatter symbols into a generalized landscape. That is why the works often lack a literal plot. An example of this is the series “Ultra-Naivery” which contains images of a burnt field with a playground and a destroyed room. It depicts the seemingly inadequate emotions of the traumatized person, such as hysterical laughter or jokes. I add emoticon stickers to the image, as if they are protecting the memory of the trauma with their nervous laughter.

The symbols that I create are taken from the city, from the small details that I notice, and so the composition is a collective image. I think of architecture and its elements as a silent witness of events. The work “Nowhere” depicts a resettlement, during which the characters are faced with a large concrete wall in the middle of nowhere. But they are not able to find a possibility to see the future behind this wall (although it is easy to bypass it from both sides). The image of the wall arose from a bulletin board I saw in the Kyiv industrial zone, which had a strange modernist shape with sharp corners.

Everything that I create nowadays – it is all about war. Even the sketches from a Romanian town – unpretentious motifs of parks or museum interiors – have a touch of anxiety. Perhaps, after the war, that will change. But I cannot think of the “after war” concept right now.

The text is written in collaboration with Oksana Briukhovetska (2024).

The statement was created within the Secondary Archive project and was first presented on March 15, 2024.
Secondary Archive

Artist’s Bio

Karina Synytsia – born in the city of Severodonetsk (Luhansk region) in 1999, and currently lives and works in Kyiv. From 2015 to 2019, she studied at the department of Fine Arts of the Kharkiv Art College, majoring in painting. In 2023, she graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture (NAFAA) with a degree in monumental and easel painting.

Karina works with the medium of painting, as well as collage and animation. In her works, she depicts landscapes, architectural buildings and constructions, focusing on the emptiness and decay of these spaces and human emotions among them.

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