Kseniya Bilyk: Chimera | The Naked Room Gallery | Kyiv

Chimera poster | Design by @3z_graphic_design
Art Martin Cid Magazine
Art Martin Cid Magazine

Kseniya Bilyk’s Chimera is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Ukraine. Textiles, blown glass, tapestry, ceramics—Kseniya mainly works with “decorative and applied” techniques but applies them to rather rigid or even reversed images.

Over the past few years, Bilyk has been exploring the formation of collective memory and the mechanisms of visual propaganda. Her images, instantly recognisable, but at the same time devoid of context, act as a trigger that starts the process of manifestation of the visual unconscious. In addition, the aesthetic seduction of the works themselves creates a world of its own, full of fantasy, sensuality and pleasure.

Kseniya Bilyk
Kseniya Bilyk. Fragment of the Chimera fountain. From the Chimera series, 2023, stainless steel, glass, coloured water

The main questions that I try to explore in my work are about how the human mind responds to a lack of information. What kind of images and fears does it create as a substitute for the truth and what kind of consequences of such a replacement? Such things give rise to a violation of human dignity, human rights, and freedoms in certain social spaces.

These issues worry me mostly because of the kaleidoscope and chaos of different and often conflicting versions of truth that are being presented through the media in the past and today. As well as the ways in which the truth is being distorted and manipulated, using society as material for certain operations and transformations. So, I try to look at the structure of the myths and narratives surrounding these issues through sensuous and sometimes absurd imagery.

Kseniya Bilyk
Kseniya Bilyk. Untitled Portrait 6, from the Chimera series, 2023, wooden frame, nylon, ink, 64×60 cm

As I was growing up in a country with a strong soviet legacy, I was fascinated by the deliberately hidden layers of the recent past, secret material, propaganda methods, and population control techniques employed by a totalitarian state.

However, in my works, I have never relied on specific examples of violence or hostile intrusion into the fabric of society. I prefer to create my own images and story around those themes. So, for example, I view conspiracy theories and everything that surrounds them as a separate kind of creativity. That’s why I often work with myths and mythmaking.

When I don’t have direct access to this “truth”, I falsify images to provide imaginary content for my creative speculations. In consequence, I try to give the viewer the conviction that it is primarily speculation. But noting a certain beauty of this myth-making process as a fundamental form of human creativity and a means of self-expression.

Kseniya Bilyk
Kseniya Bilyk
Kseniya Bilyk. Habitat fig. 6, from the Chimera series, 2023, cotton fabric, pencil, 37×22 cm

Kseniya Bilyk studied painting at the Shevchenko State Art School (2009); architecture at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Ukraine (2013) and got a master’s degree in interior design at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Poland (2016). She participated in group shows in Ukraine, Poland, France, the USA, and Japan. Her artistic practice explores the influence and power of propaganda and how people build myths around these topics. She often works in textiles, ceramics, graphics, installation, video and other media. Lives and works in Kyiv.

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