Ukraine callingZoot Sees

The power of a woman in yellow and blue

Olga Hilgers’s Octoputin reimagines folklore in support of Ukraine

Frank Wilde posing with Olga Hilgers and her Octoputin painting on 17 October 2022. About Olga’s painting, Frank explains: “A dark power, represented in an octopus with Putin’s head is struggling [with] the world and threatening peace and freedom with nuclear threats of destruction. But he gets defeated by the beauty of art and finally dies because of his own evil behaviour that turned against him.”

 

Known for using his daily elevator selfies to stand for what he believes in, Berlin-based stylist and activist Frank Wilde recently posed for one of his signature photos  alongside Ukrainian artist Olga Hilgers. The post shows the pair holding one of Olga’s bold allegorical paintings, which is now for sale. Hilgers will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Ukrainian army.

 

Words by Fernanda Russomano

 

Born in Ukraine, Olga Hilgers is a painter who focuses on her characters’ immense inner power, reminding the viewer of the hidden resources that are available inside everyone. Her characters “wade through illusions, stereotypes, social constructs and ideals to reach our common human core”.

Art is not only my safe place, but also my source of empowerment. Painting is like talking with yourself without external buzz, diving deep into unconsciousness, meeting your real wiser and stronger self, who shows you the way out of many seemingly complicated and unsolvable situations. With art we could develop stories and scenarios that we would like to unfold, pursue and experience in a more material reality.

 

Although she has been living in Berlin for the past 10 years, she still feels deeply for her home country: “I could never have thought that I still have so much love, feelings and attachment to Ukraine. The first few months of the war were so incredibly painful, almost on a physical level.”  Olga created Octoputin in April and May of this year as the artist was slowly emerging from the shock of the war and trying to get back to her painting routine. “I felt like it was the only thing that I could do to resolve this endless helplessness”, she reflects. “This was my first painting, with which I empowered myself to get back to work.”

 

Octoputin 100 x 80 cm, oil on canvas

 

Titled Octoputin, the painting was inspired by a famous Russian fairy tale of a never-dying evil old king called Koschey, the Deathless. Olga explains that “He loved gold and had plenty of it. He was a very cruel person towards people and killed many. He lived in a golden castle and also spent lots of time underground. He was terrorizing his country and neighbors. Everybody wanted him to magically disappear or finally die, but that seemed impossible.”

As the story goes, Koschey was afraid of dying and he cast a spell to protect himself from harm, becoming immortal. The spell consisted of removing his soul from his body and hiding it in a needle, then inside an egg, in a duck, in a rabbit, then locked in an iron or crystal chest and buried under a green oak on an island. Koschey meets his demise when someone finally finds the egg and breaks the needle, destroying the evil man and ridding him of his immortality.

The painting is her interpretation of the famous tale and depicts Putin as an octopus, defeated by a woman wearing a yellow and blue dress as she gracefully but powerfully holds Putin by his nuclear tie after having broken the egg and needle described in the famous tale.

 

I see Putin as an Octopus who is using his KGB tentacles to get into other countries. The warship in the background is a famous Russian ship, which goes the direction it was sent. … The woman is a representation of Ukraine, in its freedom-loving role. Love for freedom is in Ukrainian blood. She happened to be at the frontline against a chthonic monster. Despite her non-warrior appearance, she is surprisingly strong with the energy that is coming from within. The same as a mother who would lift up a car to save her child, she is protecting a new future reality without dictatorship, where people can decide for themselves which direction they want to go and develop.

 

Octoputin 100 x 80 cm, oil on canvas.

 

The nuclear tie is Octoputin’s only apparel. When he is out of arguments, he keeps on talking about a nuclear weapon attack. These threats of his meant to trigger our deepest existential anxiety, something that makes us weaker and freezes our actions. The “woman Ukraine” is not scared of it, she is strong enough. This is just a tie for her, a part of his appearance and public image. Octoputin has only his tie and sneaky KGB tentacles. Even the famous Russian warship is going down.

 

With this painting Olga conveys a message of hope and empowerment against destructing and limiting powers. “My painting is a hope for an ultimate solution for this tragic and complex situation”, she says. “It was an attempt of manifestation for Octoputin’s defeat. Octoputin himself is a representation of the power that wants to control, limit a free development of a nation, and of every particular person. He wants to paralyze us with fear. I would like to create a global and personal scenario of defeating this kind of destructive power.”

 

 

As Olga poses together with Frank Wilde for his elevator selfie series, they unite forces in hopes to raise awareness about funding for Ukraine. In fact, Frank Wilde has been devoting his Instagram page to do just that since February 24, 2022—two days before the Russia invasion. “For me the message is, that truth and love will trump over evil”, Frank says about Olga’s Octoputin. “Beauty will redeem the world. Light will outshadow darkness.”

Olga is selling her painting for a fixed price of €1000 (plus shipping), with 100 percent of the value going toward funding for the Ukrainian Army. For more information, contact Olga through her Instagram @olgahilgersartist or by email at olgahilgersart@gmail.com.

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