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Live Updates: Battle for Sievierodonetsk Could Decide Control of Eastern Ukraine, Zelensky Says

Valerie Hopkins

Volodymyr Titulenko at his studio in Rusaniv, Ukraine, with the portray “Spring in Rusaniv,” prime proper. Images by Nicole Tung for The New York Instances

Volodymyr Titulenko has lengthy been haunted by his early childhood reminiscences of World Battle II. Now, at 82 years outdated, the artist is expressing his ache in regards to the present battle via his portray.

Mr. Titulenko’s dwelling within the village of Rusaniv, an hour east of Kyiv, was on the entrance line between the Ukrainian army and the forces invading from Russia. Along with his spouse and granddaughter in Kyiv ensuring his work in a gallery there was secure, he spent two weeks sheltering in his village dwelling alone.

Mr. Titulenko, who can see nicely out of just one eye, has been glued to tv studies in regards to the battle, and that’s mirrored in his artwork.

After he returned to his studio in his flower-filled yard, one in every of his first work was “Spring in Rusaniv,” which reveals blossoming wildflowers within the foreground and flaming Russian tanks within the background. On the highway close to the tanks, the our bodies of two Russian troopers are splayed.

Throughout a go to on Tuesday, Mr. Titulenko was portray fantastic brushstrokes on his newest work: “Mariupol ’22,” a big canvas depicting the destruction of the town and a Madonna-like determine cradling a toddler. He stated he determined to color it when he couldn’t get a picture out of his head from the metal plant within the metropolis the place Ukrainian fighters held out for weeks. It was a picture of Anna Zaitseva, who had been sheltering within the bowels of the metal plant since Feb. 25 along with her toddler son, Svyatoslav.

“I noticed a picture of a lady rising from the Azovstal metal plant holding a toddler,” he stated.

The mom determine had a halo round her head, a nod to a different of his passions: icon portray.

Behind him, his granddaughter Eva was portray at a small easel. Certainly one of her work was going to be auctioned off to boost cash for the Ukrainian military. Her mom was in Ukraine’s east volunteering to assist the army.

Mr. Titulenko, who additionally carves wood sculptures, has lengthy painted political work alongside together with his icons and bucolic landscapes. Some work hanging in his studio gallery satirize leaders like former President Viktor Yanukovych, who used his political place to turn into the richest man in Ukraine, and one other businessman who grew to become president, Petro Poroshenko. The 2 males are proven in a single work roping off the nation’s pure sources with an indication saying “New Tariffs.”

Close by hung a portray of two babies standing earlier than a heap of destroyed army {hardware}. The work was completed a number of years in the past and was impressed by Mr. Titulenko’s childhood in postwar Berlin, the place his father, a Soviet soldier, was stationed. Through the battle, he was together with his grandparents in Ukraine, separated for a number of years from his mom, who was learning artwork in Moscow and had been evacuated to the Ural Mountains, and from his father, who had additionally been an artwork pupil in Moscow earlier than being deployed to the entrance.

His mom ultimately left Russia, posing as a nurse to choose up Mr. Titulenko in Ukraine earlier than going to Berlin to reunite together with his father, and he spent a number of years after the battle in Germany. He didn’t count on to see childhood reminiscences repeated in his outdated age, and he particularly didn’t count on Russians to invade his dwelling.

“My mom was from Russia,” Mr. Titulenko, who himself was born within the Russian capital whereas his mother and father have been learning, stated. “Who might count on somebody would come from Russia to kill us?”

His spouse, Ludmila, stated she had a tough time understanding why Russia would invade.

“We all the time lived right here peacefully, calmly,” she stated. “Nobody had any issues with language or nationality; nobody ever talked about it.”

Mr. Titulenko has one closing main mission in thoughts. “I’ll paint a mural to have a good time the Ukrainian victory,” he stated.

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