Olexander Klimenko | Saint George on White Horse


Saint George on White Horse, 2023
Tempera & gold leaf on fragment from wooden box for AK cartridges brought from the battle field in Bakhmut, Ukraine
41 x 34cm | 16.4 x 13.6 in

The image of a warrior defeating a monstrous chthonic creature is archetypal for many cultures and a key to the Indo-European tradition. In icon painting, this image has not lost some, even pre-Christian, features and is often present in fairy-tales and folklore. Being associated with the agrarian cult of fertility, it simultaneously symbolizes the universal victory of good over evil. In the context of recent events, the snake-wrestling rider is associated with the Ukrainian military, which defeats the evil that is coming to Ukraine from the East, protecting the native land and its inhabitants. At the same time, in the ascetic tradition of the Eastern Christian Church, George symbolizes the ascetic victory of good over evil in the human soul. The fight against universal evil begins with you, with your soul, only by defeating the evil in yourself, you can defeat the evil around you (this principle was guided by Christian ascetics for hundreds of years, but it is extremely relevant now, especially in Ukraine).

© Olexander Klimenko

Icons on Ammunition Boxes ™
From 2014, Ukrainian artists Sofia Atlantova and Olexander Klimenko have been using wooden fragments from ammunition boxes abandoned by Russian soldiers on the battle fields in Ukraine to paint icons and donating all sale proceeds to mobile hospitals that provide urgent medical care to wounded Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in late February, 2022, their work remains more relevant than ever.