Vulnerability, Resilience, and Self-Acceptance, Through the Eyes of a Ukrainian Artist


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Artem H 13
Large #49, collected by nameless
Artem H 03
Large #27, collected by @graysonlauff

Earlier than he launched GIANT, a collection of self-portraits, Artem Humilevskyi’s finger hovered over the “publish” button for six hours. It was a private challenge that required him to reveal all, each bodily and philosophically, and he had no means of realizing how folks may react. In the long run, it was definitely worth the threat. “Hitting that button was a decisive step within the challenge,” he says. “Once I did it, I spotted that nothing occurred. Nobody threw stones at me; all of the experiences I had dreaded lived solely in my head.” 

Whereas the choice to share the pictures might need been troublesome, their precise creation was pure and seamless. The challenge began in March 2020, amid the isolation of the early days of the pandemic. Lockdowns introduced concern and restlessness, however in addition they inspired Humilevskyi to spend extra time with himself. The concepts–and the photographs–flowed from him organically. He didn’t must look far for inspiration. 

Artem H 01
Large #1, collected by @sbedaux
Artem H 02
Large #3, collected by @reno_maxime
Artem H 10
Large #16, collected by @punk6529

He turned his house in Mykolaiv, Ukraine right into a playground, staging self-portraits that captured the ambiguous emotions of an unprecedented time: the eager for connection, the anxiousness of being cooped up indoors, the wonder hidden within the tiny particulars of home life, and, maybe most of all, the enjoyment of rediscovering ourselves. The nudity, he says, was by no means about being bare; it’s about being trustworthy and open–stripping your self all the way down to the core. 

“This challenge, on the entire, is about self-acceptance,” he tells me. “All of us need to look higher than we actually are, and when we don’t meet these expectations, we start to hate ourselves for our flaws. I needed to grasp who I’m and what I’m in actuality. I needed to cease sexualizing the physique and simply see it as a physique, an arm as an arm, a leg as a leg. This allowed me to simply accept myself, and later, to like myself.” 

Artem H 05
Large #7, collected by @DaveAustin
Artem H 04
Large #5, collected by nameless
Artem H 07
Large #10, collected by @kevinabosch

Humilevskyi minted a group of fifty pictures from GIANT as NFTs on the Basis platform on February seventeenth, 2022. One week later, the Russian army invaded Ukraine. Humilevskyi was in Kyiv, making ready to go to a photography exhibition the next day, when the information broke. The artist and his spouse and little one have been compelled to go away their house in Mykolaiv to stick with household within the countryside. He hasn’t been in a position to return, and he doesn’t know when he’ll. 

Every week in the past, on June twenty second, information has damaged that Russia launched seven missiles on the metropolis. No less than one individual was killed; a number of fires broke out, and houses, companies, and a faculty have been broken. On the twenty ninth, a Russian missile strike on Mykolaiv killed at the least three folks and wounded at the least 5. 

The town has skilled an onslaught of assaults in current months, however for a lot of, this place and its folks have additionally come to represent hope and defiance. Regardless of repeated bombings and the relentless violence of their assaults, Russian army forces have didn’t seize Mykolaiv. 

Humilevskyi’s work has turn out to be an emblem of resilience as nicely; he’s been donating among the proceeds from his NFT gross sales to assist hospitals, the military, and other people in his neighborhood. He’s additionally engaged on one other self-portrait challenge, exploring his private experiences amid the backdrop of world historical past. 

Artem H 12
Large #44

His pictures, whereas timeless, tackle one other layer of that means day-to-day. In a single, the artist is standing in a subject of yellow mustard flowers, basking within the gentle beneath a vibrant blue sky. The panorama seems just like the Ukrainian flag, and Humilevskyi is true there in the course of it, soaking within the magnificence and sunshine. 

Humilevskyi says he didn’t select the places for the GIANT pictures; as an alternative, they selected him. He checked out his environment, and a few locations known as out to him. “I inserted myself into what I noticed,” he explains. The image within the mustard subject captures the sensation of being secure and free–the sensation of being at house in each your physique and your nation. 

Artem H 09
Large #11, collected by @sashaku9292

Throughout the struggle, Ukrainian households have been separated at border gates all over the world. Humilevskyi has been ready to stick with his spouse and son, and that’s one thing he doesn’t take with no consideration. Even in GIANT, a collection of self-portraits, you will discover traces of his household, from the furnishings they’ve at house to the meals they’ve of their fridge. In a single image, the artist’s son has hopped into the body himself. His father tells me that, initially, it was alleged to be simply him, like all the remainder of the pictures, however his child insisted. “For him, it’s an fascinating recreation,” he says. 

Artem H 06
Large #9, collected by @MattKaneArtist

Humilevskyi’s spouse additionally performs a distinguished function behind the scenes. Essentially the most memorable expertise that they had on a shoot was after they occurred upon a burning subject. It wasn’t deliberate; they merely seen a small dot of glowing gentle within the distance, hopped within the automobile, and drove 20 kilometers to search out the flames. They needed to be cautious, and so they had little or no time, as the fireplace was quick approaching. Within the ensuing {photograph}, lit by the brake lights of the automobile, the artist seems just like the protector of the land–or a phoenix rising from the ashes. 

Artem H 14
Large #50

Humilevskyi may say “nothing occurred” when he revealed GIANT, however, after all, that’s not completely true. The images have been shared the world over and purchased by among the most influential artwork collectors within the house. Although he might need hesitated to publish them initially, the pictures now have a everlasting house on the blockchain, the place anybody, wherever, can see and respect them. 

“I’ve obtained a whole lot of letters from individuals who undergo from their very own insecurities,” the artist admits. “And it’s not simply fats folks–it may be any type of insecurity.” Many have present in his work an invite to specific themselves extra freely, stay extra totally, and settle for themselves for who they’re. “I didn’t count on my challenge to turn out to be so necessary to so many individuals,” he tells me. 

Artem H 11
Large #43

All photos © Artem Humilevskyi. You may see (and acquire) pictures from GIANT over on Basis.

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