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Ukrainian museum director reflects on art as memory and why it must be saved

Felix Lembersky, Workers’ Town, Nizhny Tagil, the Urals, 1958, gouache on paper. (Courtesy)
Felix Lembersky, Workers’ Town, Nizhny Tagil, the Urals, 1958, gouache on paper. (Courtesy)

Recently Here & Now spoke to Galina and Yelena Lembersky — the Russian mother and daughter who fled the Soviet Union in the 1980s with hundreds of Galina’s father’s paintings. Their father was Ukrainian-trained artist Felix Lembersky.

Their paintings are now in Massachusetts, and so, we discovered, is the acting director of the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, Oleksandra Kovalchuk, who recently fled the war in Ukraine for her parents’ home in the U.S. Kovalchuk has been working from this country to save the art left behind at the museum.

She was also thrilled to meet the Lemberskys and see their art collection. The women reflect on the meaning of art as memory and the importance of saving it.

Watch on YouTube.

Oleksandra Kovalchuk and Yelena Lembersky. (Robin Young/Here & Now)

Felix Lembersky, Night at the Urals’ Plant, Nizhny Tagil, 1958, gouache on paper. (Courtesy)

Felix Lembersky, Reclining Woman, 1964, oil on canvas. (Courtesy)

Felix Lembersky, untitled, Nizhny Tagil, 1958, gouache on paper. (Courtesy)

K. Kostandi, Portrait of an artist Kudravtsev. (Courtesy)

K. Kostandi, Haystacks. (Courtesy)

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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