Dew in the Sun
curated by Stephan Koal

As part of Berlin Art Week 2022

Olena Pronkina’s paintings show us parallel worlds that take root in our memory like ramified dreams. The colours, mostly muted, seem as if they had been exposed to a sandstorm. The pictures evoke memories of a bygone era – an attractive mixture – Florentine fresco painting crossed with images from the past East. All the flower-bearing figures bring Wolfgang Mattheuer’s “Die Ausgezeichnete” to mind again.

In other images, the limbs of the bodies are overstretched. Shapeless, apparently bloated bodies move through space, secured by a seemingly endless umbilical cord.

That’s how it was until March 2022. Now it’s different. The paintings bear mourning. The green has approached black over time. The heads have become detached from the bodies, thrown into the world like dice in a game. Safety is a thing of the past.

The images are joined by ceramic heads, this time lined up on pedestals, the eyes are sometimes open, sometimes resting. In front of the exhibition wall in a pale watery hue, resembling the clear blue just after a sunrise, they appear to have escaped from the dark bottoms of the paintings, to a more hopeful time.

The title of the exhibition Dew in the Sun quotes the line “Our enemies will disappear, like dew in the sun …” from a poem written by the Ukrainian poet Pavlo Chubynskyj in 1862, that was later set to music as the Ukrainian anthem.

Olena Pronkina: “For me, ‘Dew in the Sun’ is a symbol of our country’s victory over evil, victory over the terror of the Russian invaders, because the dew will inevitably disappear in the sun’s rays.”

Stephan Koal / 2022


Olena Pronkina received the KVOST stipend in May 2022 and is the first recipient to also receive the Claus Michaletz Preis of 10,000 euros offered by the Secco Pontanova Foundation.

She was born in 1988 in Uzbekistan and grew up in Ukraine. Her preferred media are painting and ceramics. Until Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Pronkina lived and worked in Kyiv. Like many artists, she fled to the west of the country to Lviv.

With the kind support of the sculpture workshop in the Kulturwerk of the bbk Berlin.