The Rise Of Ukrainian Artists

How a horrific war has impacted the careers of Ukrainian artists.

The war-caused ruptures that ripple across the globe, economically, politically, and socially aren’t particularly difficult to track, at least not the broader strokes. But what about the effect on the art world? How do cultural institutions react? Where do they choose to dedicate their attention, and what effect does this have on the artists they highlight or those they don’t?

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, escalating its ongoing assault on the country, nations sprung to action, opening their borders, and offering aid, support, and sanctions on Russia. At the same time, all forms of cultural institutions outside of Russia and Ukraine jumped to the support of Ukrainian artists, organising special exhibitions, adding curated sections to art fairs, and establishing cross-border partnerships with galleries in Ukraine.

This dramatically increased visibility for Ukrainian artists has also resulted in their prominence growing. In just two years of data collection, we can see very clearly how much the war has affected Ukrainian artists’ rankings.

When looking at Artfacts’ data:

The number of exhibitions featuring five or more Ukrainian artists increased from 27 in 2021 to 80 in 2022.

In 2021, there was 1 exhibition with Ukraine in the title, in 2022, there were 50.
The average percentage increase of Ukrainian artists’ rankings between 2021 and 2024: was 1.45%, in comparison to Poland, a country with a relatively similar population and geographical location, which had 1.03%. Russian artists on the other hand, had just 0.54% growth.
Our Heatlist, which consists of 78 different nationalities, features 11.53% Ukrainian artists, which is second only to the US, with 34.61%. In third place is the United Kingdom with 7.69%. This is a very significant number; as a comparison, within our records, the United States has 6,678 venues, the United Kingdom has 2,674 and Ukraine has just 152.

Below is a table of the top five Ukrainian artists with the highest ranking increase between 2021 and 2024. If you click on any of these artists and view their trends charts, you will notice a dramatic increase in ranking in 2022.

    Artist Rank 2021 Rank 2024 Growth
    Dana Kavelina 300,868 4,457 68 %
    Yana Bachynska 251,718 6,234 40 %
    Kateryna Lysovenko 174,533 4,798 36 %
    Olia Fedorova 131,922 6,661 20 %
    Krystyna Melnyk 469,674 23,860 20 %

    Looking into more detail in any of the above artists’ biographies, you will see a marked increase in exhibition participation in 2022, with many of the exhibitions being related to war. When we consider the first artist on the list as an example, Dana Kavelina, 11 of the 14 exhibitions the artist participated in in 2022 were directly related to the war. Although these observations naturally do not reflect the experience of all Ukranian artists, it is noteworthy.

    We may never have had the chance to encounter many of the fascinating artistic positions offered by these Ukrainian artists if it wasn’t for a horrific war they should never have had to experience. Whilst the data makes it very clear that the war has indeed had a significant impact on the careers of Ukrainian artists, these observations are simply meant to acknowledge the effects any social situation (and in this case, war) has on our cultural landscapes, and how it can shape whose voices we hear more loudly. In that same sentiment, we can also not forget to consider the voices we have ceased to hear entirely; those who have lost their lives to war.

    One of the important features of data is being able to notice and understand trends. Today’s exploration was one such example.Expand the way you see art,

    The Artfacts Team

    Headerimage by Alexander Startsev on Unsplash