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Aesthetics mirror ethics in show of deposed Ukrainian’s outlandish treasures

Works seized from Viktor Yanukovych’s estate used in conceptual display in Kiev

A portrait of the ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych is part of the exhibition in Kiev. Photo: AFP/SERGEI SUPINSKY

The gaudy art collection of Ukraine’s deposed former president, Viktor Yanukovych, has been put on view in a conceptual exhibition addressing the themes of dictatorship and corruption. “Codex of Mezhyhirya” opened over the weekend at the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kiev and runs through 27 July.

All of the 500 works included in the show were seized from Mezhyhirya, the ousted president’s estate near Kiev. While some are genuine works of art, others are “examples of outright tastelessness and fakes”, according to a description on the museum’s website. Yanukovych’s outlandish collection was dubbed the “Treasures of Mezhyhirya”, and public interest in the cache of objects was piqued when crowds were allowed into the estate to briefly gawk following his flight from the country in February.

The works range from elaborately decorated antique religious books to vanity portraits and sculptures of Yanukovych himself. The aim is to “let these objects speak and testify for themselves,” the museum’s website says.

In an exhibition statement, the co-curator and Ukrainian artist Alexander Roitburd draws a link between Yanukovych’s “redneck taste” and corruption in Ukraine. He argues that if he had been “slightly more modest” in his lifestyle, it might have encouraged a more democratic mindset among the ruling elite, instead of the “Gypsy Baron-style luxury” that fuels kleptocracy.

“We should not neglect the importance of style on the ethical climate,” Roitburd says.

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Comments

1 May 14
15:49 CET

GARY EISENBERG, MARINA DEL REY

"Art" imitates life? The line gets increasingly blurred, it seems...

30 Apr 14
22:59 CET

STEFANOS, ATHENS

I guess that objects will agree that they are of "redneck taste" as the co-curator states. Otherwise I would be happy to follow the way that they will communicate with the visitors...

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