An oil painting by American painter, Zhenya Gershman, based on a photograph taken by Anadolu Agency photo-journalist, Wolfgang Schwan in Kharkiv, north-eastern Ukraine, and which has become a symbol of Russia’s war on Ukraine, was sold for $100,000 on Thursday, Anadolu News Agency reports.
A statement from Heritage Auctions, a worldwide collectibles auctioneer, said painter Gershman made an oil painting of the landmark photo of Olena Kurilo, whose head was bandaged and face was injured, which Anadolu Agency photo-journalist Schwan took on 25 February, the second day of the war.
The painting “First Face of War: Intimate Portrait of Ukrainian Teacher, 2022” sold for $100,000 at Heritage Auctions in the US.
The painting’s revenue will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross Association, according to the announcement.
“You see that civilians, the audience of this conflict, are the ones who have suffered the most,” Schwan lamented.
“In any conflict, it is most important to highlight the suffering of people who are not active participants. This helps us to see the pain of civilians caught up in the horror,” he said.
For her part, Gershman also expressed her belief in the power of art, saying, “I believe that a simple action can change the world by painting the truth.”
“I’m a complete idealist, and I knew something good will come out of it,” she added.
The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on 24 February, has been met with international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,189 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,901 injured, according to estimates by the UN, which cautioned that the true figure is likely far higher.
More than 4 million Ukrainians have also fled to several European countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency.