Since 24 February 2022, Russian aggression and the murderous war against the Ukrainian people take us back to the darkest times in European history. Tens of thousands dead, cities partially razed, millions of Ukrainian refugees wandering across Europe. How to react, as a museum, how to show a sign of solidarity with those under attack when direct cooperation with a Ukrainian museum is currently proving impossible and our own collections contain almost no objects related to this country?
By pure coincidence, MNHA was already long before the start of hostilities in contact with Russian born artist Maxim Kantor, well known for his very critical attitude towards the Putin regime and recent developments in Russia. Kantor spontaneously agreed to show more than sixty of his works that unmask the totalitarian and aggressive character of the current Russian regime.
In solidarity with Ukraine
The show also includes a painting specially created for the exhibition and which gave it its title: "The Rape of Europe. Several rooms on the 4th floor happened to be completely empty while waiting for the parquet to be refurbished. In consultation with the artist, we decided to leave them in their current raw state. We present this exceptional exhibition in order to support those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.
Admission to the exhibition The Rape of Europe – Maxim Kantor on Putin’s Russia (Works 1992-2022) is free; however, visitors are invited to join the Luxembourg Red Cross in providing emergency aid to all the people and victims affected by the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine.
"Russia — the country where I lived for many years before becoming a citizen of Europe — has been a laboratory for inhumane social projects all through the 20th and 21st centuries."
Maxim Kantor on the exhibition [April 2022]
“This exhibition, realized in a very short time in reaction to the war in Ukraine, brings together works that can be called political. In fact, any humanistic art that addresses people and society inevitably becomes political.
We live in a society that believed it had overcome war. But greed and a desire to triumph over one’s neighbour do their usual job. We thought fascism was defeated forever. But fascism proved very resilient.
Works from the last 30 years are shown. I have long warned of the danger, observing from year to year how the proclaimed ideals have been denied and distorted, and how ‘conditional’ democracy has been replaced by a new feudalism. I have seen people be-come monsters. Sometimes, I called things by their right names too clearly in my works — and it seemed offensive.
Today it seems to me more necessary than ever to show these works. Russia — the country where I lived for many years before becoming a citizen of Europe — has been a laboratory for in-humane social projects all through the 20th and 21st centuries. Unfortunately, Putin’s project is not the first, and it is important to understand its genesis.
However, the current conflict does not negate the humanistic component of Russian culture, a culture born within the framework of an inhuman empire and in the struggle against serfdom. There-fore, I hope that today’s evil will be overcome. However, what is happening right now reminds us how thin the cultural varnish is. How fragile humanism is and how easily evil can triumph in the world if we do not find moral solidity within ourselves.”