by Anna Maria Jakubek
WARSAW, Poland (AFP) – A new exhibition of children’s art from post-war Poland and modern-day Ukraine shows that for the world’s smallest citizens, armed conflict is the same wherever and whenever.
“How children perceive war, what they feel, what they convey through their drawings … is quite similar,” curator Dorota Sadowska told AFP.
“What you see is suffering, pure and simple.”
The outdoor exhibition, which features several hundred drawings and is on view across Poland and elsewhere, including New York City, is a joint effort between Poland and Ukraine.
Colorful and drawn with markers, crayons or even digital tools, the artworks come from the collection on the Mom, I See War portal by Ukrainian children who lived through the invasion of Russia in their homeland.
The website has brought together thousands of drawings to be turned into a permanent digital photo collage for an NFT auction. The proceeds benefit the children affected by the war.
The Polish collection of the exhibition, mostly in pencil on paper that has since browned, shows drawings that were made in 1946 for a national competition.
They have since been kept in the Central Archives for Modern Records in Warsaw.
Sadowska said the goal is for “the world to look at children and listen to what children are saying and feeling”.
“Perhaps then it will see that in times of war every child is a victim. And get adults thinking about what can be done to change that.”
The drawings show tanks, corpses, burning airplanes, buildings with gaping holes, armed troops, torture, tears.
– “Raise Awareness” –
The theme is difficult to reconcile with the aesthetics of children’s art, Sadowska said.
“A small child may draw the sun, flowers, a smiling child, his family. Or clouds, trees, kittens, puppies – not the gallows or the corpses,” she told AFP.
“Because the world of children and the world of war are two separate worlds.”
A work by 14-year-old Valeria from the Hlevakha settlement near Kyiv is particularly shocking.
It features a blazing field of sunflowers – a national emblem of Ukraine – in bright yellow and green, and in the midst of it a jumble of corpses, scarlet blood pouring from heads, arms and torsos.
Marina, 34, pushes a stroller and stops to take a look. She says she is doing this “with tears in my eyes as I am from Ukraine”.
“I think that’s a good idea. To raise awareness again,” said the mother of two from the port city of Kherson to the AFP news agency.
Wanda Sieminska, a Warsaw pensioner who attended the exhibition, noted that the two series of drawings are essentially the same, despite differences in time, place, and tools used.
“The theme is the same: the tragedy of children in times of war,” the 85-year-old told AFP.
© Agence France-Presse