Wormwood: Life in the Zone

The next Arts Council of Doom solo show to come after Gary’s show in February, “Wormwood” is Wilke‘s exhibition of digital paintings on canvas documenting life in the still uninhabitable Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. (description taken from Event Page) Below are a few images graciously provided by the artist himself, showing first the paintings themselves and their final form on canvas. There’s many more where these came from, so make sure and go check out the show at Tin Man Brewery before it closes May 17!

That event page again: https://www.facebook.com/events/691375340901638/

From the Wormwood Press release:

These digital paintings are inspired by photography from the abandoned Ukrainian city of Pripyat. Located 3km from the Chernobyl nuclear power facility, the city was evacuated three days after the 1986 accident. Pripyat is deep inside the 30km Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a highly contaminated area that remains uninhabitable 28 years later. The show’s title is drawn from Revelation 8:10-11, wherein a star, Wormwood, poisons a third of the fresh waters; Chernobyl is often reported to mean Wormwood in Russian.

Wilke’s Artist Statement gives more details on the Chernobyl catastrophe and describes the former Soviet Union’s construction of a temporary protective “sarcophagus” over the hazard, going on to describe the fragility of the under-maintained, under-funded structure and concluding:

Should the crumbling sarcophagus collapse prior to the completion of its replacement, the consequences could very well be greater than those of the initial accident.

Wilke ends on a somewhat upbeat, but ultimately ambiguous and haunting note, much like his images.

Wormwood: Life In The Zone is my attempt to draw attention to this situation. Inspired by photography from the abandoned Ukrainian city of Pripyat, located 3km from the Chernobyl nuclear power facility, these digital paintings on canvas, despite their somber inspiration and ominous namesake, continue in my vibrant and whimsical cartoon-inspired style and depict radiation suit-clad figures in a variety of amusing scenes. I hope you find these images fun, but also thought provoking. Should we fail to address the situation, we face the very real possibility of finding ourselves consigned to radiation suits ourselves.

Wilke also did a wonderful show called “All is Naut” in January 2014, right after my “God From the Machine” solo show in December. These both occurred before I started documenting art shows on my website, but I recently found a treasure trove of photos of both so I’ll be going back and doing featurettes on each of them soon.

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