As the war in Ukraine continues, many refugees have had to flee their home country and find safety elsewhere. Bogdan Rohulskyi was one such person, who escaped the conflict by arriving in England. There, he made an unexpected friendship—which blossomed into a creative collaboration—with paper quilling artist Yulia Brodskaya.
It turned out that Rohulskyi was a trained videographer, a skill that Brodskaya had been interested in for a long time as a way to showcase some of the three-dimensionality of her art in a new way. “For ages I’ve been thinking that my home-made mobile videos do not allow online viewers to fully see and experience the three-dimensionality of my paper art; the play of light and shadows which changes the way a paper artwork is perceived in a given moment,” Brodskaya tells My Modern Met. “Bogdan brought his unique vision to the table (covered with tiny paper cuttings like every other surface in my studio); he created short video stories presenting several of my favorite paper portraits in the best light, literally.”
As their partnership took flight, Brodskaya also embarked on a new paper quilling artwork, entitled Phoenix. Made with yellow, orange, and red strips of paper that she arranges against a dark background, it depicts a portrait of a young woman merged with the body of a fire-breathing phoenix bird. “It seems symbolic because Bogdan’s life in Ukraine has been burned to ashes, but from the ashes, a new chapter of his life is rising and beginning to take flight here in the UK,” she adds. And although Brodskaya does not like to attach explanations to her art—preferring that her viewers find their own meaning—she mentions that “this portrait is about coming into your personal power: every time you take courage to follow your heart and your true self, the fire of the phoenix gets stronger…until it is no longer possible to suppress it… Phoenix comes out in its full glory to purify and burn down everything that no longer serves us.”