top of page

Victoria Kagalovska

Before the Invasion


MAR 03, 2023 | ISSUE 6

Illustration by Victoria Kagalovska
Illustration by Victoria Kagalovska
Illustration by Victoria Kagalovska

Shortly before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, smART Magazine reached out to Victoria Kagalovska — a painter, fashion designer, and creative entrepreneur based in Kyiv. She has since left the city and has been a relentless and passionate advocate for the plight of her country on social media. Kagalovska joined us to talk about the tense atmosphere preceding the invasion — reminding us that the invasion started many years ago — as well as her motivations as an artist.

sM | How is the artistic community responding to the current situation in Ukraine with solidarity?

VK ── We’ve been living in this political environment since the beginning of the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas. There is constant stress and fear of a full-scale war. I know it sounds weird, but we are used to living with it. When you’re hearing every day about the losses at the frontline, you cannot react every time as strongly as the first time. That said, the informational escalation of the conflict has recently had a very negative effect on the mood and economy of the entire country. Artists, like all people, are united in Ukraine now. We will continue to create and mould a good image for our country. Life (war) is short — art is eternal. Vita brévis, ars lónga.

sM | How do you hope to challenge historical depictions of women and subvert the “male gaze” in your work?

VK ── I’m not trying to engage the “male gaze” in my paintings or compete with men in my art. The heroes of my paintings are always women for one simple reason: they inspire me. These are portraits of other women, but they express my own emotions and feelings. The world is changing and developing. It is not always necessary to fight and protest to change the mind of the public. Sometimes you just need to do your job well, which is what I aspire to.

sM | Where do you often find your inspiration for the subjects of your painting?

VK ── It’s always different each time. I try to surround myself with people and information that inspires me. There are many creatives among my friends, and my Instagram followers are mostly art bloggers, photographers, models, galleries, and so on. Sometimes I find a photo that I want to draw, so I reach out to the photographer and then draw it. Sometimes I can look at a photo, video, or film, see a beautiful pose, a glare in someone’s eyes, or beautiful lips, and start drawing. In this way, the people I draw don’t exist — I conceive them.