Ukrainian artist Nadiia Pliamko has opened a new solo exhibition at Pocko Gallery in London. Titled Magpies Nest, the show features prints and video art by Pliamko, as well as a short documentary on her work, directed by Pocko’s Nick Collin.
Having fled Ukraine during the Russian invasion in 2022, Pliamko now lives in Estonia, where she produces 2D and 3D artworks on a range of subjects, including the war itself. Drawing on sources such as “Soviet iconography, Bosch-like dreamworlds, and middle European folklore”, she creates captivating pieces that tread a line between the real and the surreal.
Looking to real world subjects and events as inspiration for her work – such as moss, mushrooms, shadows, the way her dog moves, and the “menacing sea” – she renders intricately detailed 3D spaces. Within these spaces, strange yet familiar characters and objects come to life.
During the planning phase, Pliamko says she has “dozens of lists”, ranging from the macro, like “the mood of the scenes” to the micro, like “the shape of the buckles on the character’s shoes”. These visions come together in an expressive display of form, colour, and texture, each enhanced using subtle yet effective motion design.
Each piece is the result of “thousands of unsuccessful technical experiments”, with Pliamko painstakingly working through each detail. She never uses ready-made assets, despite their availability, because, as she explains, “the movement of each line [in the work] is how I show up in this world, how I maintain myself in it”.
Though she often finds herself stuck in a mental “quagmire” during her creative process, she says the notion of why she creates eventually inspires her to carry on. “This happens when I remember what this is all for and that the only happiness is to give something.”
The invasion of Ukraine is referenced in some of the works, and when asked what she wants audiences to take away from the exhibition, Pliamko points to the conflict. “Art is not something that can stop war,” she says. But it does also create a reminder of what people are experiencing in Ukraine, and of what visitors can do to help, for instance donating towards relevant causes. “My fellow citizens are facing a winter without heat or electricity. It’s unlikely that my pictures will warm anyone’s numb fingers, but if we all chip in a penny, some will live longer, some will simply survive.”
Magpies Nest is on show at Pocko Gallery, London until November 30; pocko.com