Sunflowers against bombs: the Argentinian artist in Berlin who sells paintings to help Ukraine

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“The pen is mightier than the sword,” wrote Edward Bulwer, a 19th-century Briton, in a play. This idea is the basis of the initiative of Lujan Cordaroan illustrator from Buenos Aires based in Berlin 7 years ago: together with nine other artists, she grabbed her brushes and put her works up for sale to raise funds for helping women and children from Ukraine.

here in berlin we have war much closeris everyone doing something to help. We do what we can: create“, explained Cordaro to NT on the origin of the project called “Sunflower Power”, the power of sunflowers.

I also read: He decided to stay in Ukraine to take care of his 20 cats: “We will never leave, we will defend the city”

It occurred to him to talk to a group of illustrator friends, mostly Latin Americans who live in Berlin – Isabela Savastano, Vastiane, Emma Rytoft, Victoria Rodriguez, Laura Martin, Jacqueline Wild, Atolonia, Carolina Guerra and Margarita Kollmann – and she they agreed on associations to help.

The theme of the works imposed itself: the sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine who became a resistance emblem before the Russian invader and the marches against the war.

According to the 35-year-old artist, the trigger for the project was a post on the networks of a Ukrainian friend about the sunflower fields of her country, “an analogy with the Ukrainian flag with the yellow of the flowers and the blue of the sky”. ” .

A woman holds sunflowers as she takes part in a protest against the war in Ukraine, in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo: REUTERS/Chris Helgren).
A woman holds sunflowers as she takes part in a protest against the war in Ukraine, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: REUTERS/Chris Helgren).By: Reuters

Why sunflowers are the symbol of Ukrainian resistance

According to legend, it was Tsar Peter the Great who brought back sunflower seeds from his travels in the Netherlands in the 18th century and brought them to Ukraine to plant them in its fertile black soil. The country is today world’s leading producer and exporter of sunflower seeds and oil. The harvest has become a ubiquitous element in the cultural expressions of Ukrainians, and it is common to see embroidered flowers on traditional costumes, paintings, plates and other decorations.

“Each worked on the subject with their own style. The idea was to make something cool so we could sell it, something adorablenot so much with an anti-war, protest tone, but that it serves to decorate a house,” Cordaro clarified.

The works that Luján Cordaro and other artists sell to support children and women in Ukraine.  (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).
The works that Luján Cordaro and other artists sell to support children and women in Ukraine. (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).

They did 20 prints of their works who are sold for $35 on Cordaro’s online store, for which they hope to raise around $7,000. The works will be on sale until March 20.

For the moment “about fifteen paintings have been sold to people from the United States, Germany and Sweden”, specifies the Argentinian artist and if all are not sold online, she will distribute them in a gallery. where she works.

All proceeds will go to three organizations helping Ukrainian women, children and the LGBTI communityCordaro explained.

I also read: Ukrainian forces, between inexperienced armed civilians and young soldiers ready for anything

The illustration that Luján Cordaro sells to support children and women in Ukraine.  (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).
The illustration that Luján Cordaro sells to support children and women in Ukraine. (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).

More than 3 million Ukrainian refugees

During the 20 days that the conflict lasts more than 3 million refugeesincluding nearly one child per second, the UN reported on Tuesday, describing the crisis as the largest of its kind in Europe since World War II. in Berlin About 15,000 refugees arrive every day, according to official figures. The capital is usually the first stop in Germany for anyone traveling from Poland.

“You still don’t see many refugees on the streets, but the central station is full of families. In my neighborhood, Friedrichshain, transformed a cultural center into a refugethey put beds so people can spend a few nights,” explained the illustrator, who along with her husband and friends took blankets, pillows, clothes and food at the location.

The works that Luján Cordaro and other artists sell to support children and women in Ukraine.  (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).
The works that Luján Cordaro and other artists sell to support children and women in Ukraine. (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).

“There, they receive around 100 people a day. Then many go to other places in Europe where they have family,” he said. While a law obliges men between the ages of 18 and 60 to stay in Ukraine to fight against Vladimir Putin’s troops, the refugees “it is mostly women and children who arrive exhausted“.

As he explained, in Germany a large part of the citizens organize themselves into networks to help. “Many Facebook groups that had been created for the war in Syria have been reactivated, there are many people who receive families in their homes”.

For example, a friend of hers who rents apartments on Airbnb “hosted 40 people in two weeks”. Her sister-in-law also housed a couple with her baby in her attic.

Sometimes the requests for help circulating are surprising: a Ukrainian family with a pet turtle indicated that they needed a heat lamp. “No one started making jokes and within hours they figured it out,” Luján said.

The works that Luján Cordaro and other artists sell to support children and women in Ukraine.  (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).
The works that Luján Cordaro and other artists sell to support children and women in Ukraine. (Photo: courtesy of Luján Cordaro).

There are also many people who, on their own initiative, help out in their neighborhood and take it to the Polish border. At one of the schools where she teaches, Cordaro saw that students were “already planning a welcome party for new classmates from Ukraine.”

“Seeing people arrive and hearing their stories, it’s not just something you read about in the paper, it’s all closer, it’s very emotional and people are super supportive,” Cordaro concluded.

Who is Lujan Cordaro?

Cordaro is an art teacher and children’s illustrator who ventures into different techniques such as acrylic, pencil, watercolor and collage. She teaches in schools and various workshops for children and adults in Berlin.

Sunflowers against bombs: the Argentinian artist in Berlin who sells paintings to help Ukraine

He publishes his first book, Bearin 2020. It is the story of a bear who leaves the forest to try his luck in the city, a story of migration and adaptation that is inspired by his life.

Cordaro moved to Berlin seven years ago because of a love affair with the city and with one of its inhabitants, David Peifer, a German citizen whom he met while doing couchsurfing during a trip of several months through Europe. Along with her husband and cousin Ramiro Rodríguez Etchelet, she is also part of the craft brewery Gorilla.

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