“The Rape of Europe”, an engaging… and controversial exhibition?

Known for his critical positions towards Vladimir Putin’s regime, Maxim Kantor created the exhibition The Rape of Europe – Maxim Kantor on Putins Russia (Works 1992-2022) at the National Museum of History and Art (MNHA) in Luxembourg. Starting April 29, this exhibition features around sixty of the artist’s political works, depicting the totalitarianism and aggressiveness of the current Russian regime.

In collaboration with the Luxembourg Red Cross, the museum that organized this event wants to respond and show its solidarity with the Ukrainian people after the Russian offensive that has plagued the country since February 24. “By pure coincidence, we had contact with the artist Maxim Kantor at the beginning of the fighting,” says Michel Polfer, director of the MNHA. “He spontaneously agreed to organize an emergency exhibition.”

Different points of view

In response to the organization of such an exhibition, the non-profit association LUkraine, representing the Ukrainian community in Luxembourg, published an open letter to express its opposition. The latter follows a sentence published by the Russian artist and with which he promoted his exhibition on social networks: “I do not distinguish between the victims of the war (the Ukrainian people and the Russian people, editor’s note). In my eyes, they all deserve compassion.”

“We believe that Mr. Kantor could not be more wrong and we find this comparison very offensive to the Ukrainian community and the victims of this war,” wrote the LUkraine association in its letter to the artist. The latter did not fail to express her fears regarding the funds raised during the exhibition: “The very real danger is that part of Mr. Kantor’s donations to Russia will be paid to the families of war criminals.” that “According to international military conventions, every soldier has the right to disobey unlawful or unlawful orders. We know for sure that many Russian soldiers, unwilling to take part in these atrocities, surrendered to Ukrainian forces.”

denunciation of the war

As a critical observer of Russian society and politics, the artist of Russian, German and Argentinian nationality presents the works he has created over the past 30 years. Through dark colors accompanied by red, recognizable skeletons and political figures, the artist here, through the expression of his brushes and pencils, denounces the deepest rumbles of past wars and the conflict currently unfolding in Ukraine.

“This exhibition, which was created in a very short time as a reaction to the war in Ukraine, brings together works that can be described as political,” says Maxim Kantor. “We live in a society that thought it had won the war. We thought fascism was defeated forever, but it has proven very resilient.” Indeed, the title of the exhibition (“The Rape of Europe”) raises important questions.

Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More, 2020.

(Illustration: Maxim Kantor)

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“The Rape of Europe”, 2022.

(Illustration: Maxim Kantor)

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“The Rape of Europe”, 2014.

(Illustration: Maxim Kantor)

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Maxim Kantor is a painter, draftsman, writer, philosopher and art historian. Born in Moscow in 1957, he grew up and studied in Russia, where he quickly opposed the government by publishing anti-Soviet writings from 1972 onwards. Throughout his career, he has never stopped defining himself as a man who “turned towards society” without ever claiming and belonging to any movement or group, but spreading his own message. In 1992 he left Russia and now lives in France.

“The Rape of Europe – Maxim Kantor on Putins Russia (Works 1992-2022)”, from 29 April to 16 October 2022 at the National Museum of History and Art. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Luxembourg Red Cross. Admission is free, but visitors are asked to make a donation to help Ukrainian refugees housed in Luxembourg.

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