An exhibition of drawings by anarchist artist David Chichkan was due to open at the Odessa National Art Museum on January 21. However, under pressure from the far right, the exhibition was cancelled. Since the start of the large-scale war, David Chichkan has supported the anti-authoritarian fighters. The depiction of these men and women, soldiers in the Ukrainian armed forces, has become the main theme of his work.

Can you introduce yourself and explain your work to us? You say your drawings represent "heroes of my works who are representatives of the anarchist and anti-authoritarian socialist movements and who defend Ukraine in the ranks of the armed forces" Can you tell us about the people and about these portraits. Where and when did you draw these portraits?

Нello, I painted these collective portraits at home and partly in the cities where I managed to show the exhibition before Odessa. I know about some of the ones drawn because we are friends on social networks, and the rest are my comrades and friends. Volunteers internationalists with left-wing anti-authoritarian political views are also depicted. The people I paint are brave guys and girls who were involved in rallies, protests, Direct action and trade union and activities dedicated to the popularization of left-wing, anti-authoritarian ideas. Now they are repelling the attacks of the fascist-imperial invaders of the Kremlin army.

In 2017, your exhibition “Lost Opportunities” at the capital’s Center for Visual Culture was vandalized by hooded people. Today in Odessa the extreme right prevented your exhibition. Have you had any other problems with the far right or the reactionary right?

From time to time, ultra-right neoconservatives or subcultural neofascists try to interfere with my exhibitions, but during the full-scale invasion of the Russian imperials, I successfully held three exhibitions, and took part in some collective exhibitions, and only one was canceled for me in Odessa, since the Odessa right-wing radicals held loud campaign against me, and because our level of political education is low, and people are generally not engaged by ideas, but act spontaneously, exposed to various propaganda.

After 2 years of war, how do you see the situation in Ukraine?

The situation is much better than I calculated and predicted, I had the opportunity to leave Ukraine all these two years like many other artists, but I love Ukraine, I see some advantages of living in Ukraine even during the war. Ukraine is a modern project of a nation, and this project is leftist and anti-authoritarian in its design, on Ukrainian banknotes there are socialists and not an imperial double-headed eagle, we have the same portraits in our schools, cities are named after people from the portraits. I believe that it is possible to prevent the victory of neoliberals and neoconservatives, and to bring current Ukraine back into line with how it was designed. We left-wing anti-authoritarians are doing everything so that Ukrainians stop identifying socialism with the sad experience of the Soviet project, which was not socialist, but was a product of counter-revolution and the reaction of the authoritarian Bolsheviks, who fulfilled Bakunin's predictions and fears.

What are your projects?

Мy projects are aimed at informing Ukrainians that the left is not their enemy, and also informing Europeans and the world community that anarchists and anti-authoritarian/democratic socialists, Roma, LGBT people, feminists and not just radical rightists are voluntarily fighting for Ukraine, which should improve the understanding of this war. My old task was also to show that neo-Nazis and neo-fascists are fighting for the Kremlin, now this is irrelevant since everyone has already understood this. But I see the most important task as the inheritance of the UPR[1] and the Gulyai-Polye[2] Republic of 1917-1921.

What do you hope for the year 2024?

I dream that the Imperials will lose this year, although this is very naive, I am going to join the army this year, and I would like to stay alive. This year I would like more Ukrainians to learn about the Kurdistan project, Kurdish autonomies and the Kurds. I hope new wars will not start on the planet. I hope conservative and authoritarian forces will not take victory in different countries, because now is the time for their growth, this is my opinion.


[1] The Central Council of Ukraine (Rada, all-Ukrainian council of soldiers', workers' and peasants' deputies), elected in March 1971, proclaimed the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) on a territory comprising eight imperial Russian governorates (Kyiv, Volhynia, Kharkiv, Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Poltava, Chernigov and Podolia) and officially declared the independence of Ukraine on January 22, 1918. Translator's note.

[2] After October 1917, this city in southeastern Ukraine was the center of an anarchist-inspired peasant revolutionary movement. Nestor Makhno was born there. Translator's note.