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Primitive style portrait of an imaginary Ukrainian Flapper with traditional Ukrainian poppy headband and bobbed hair
(oil painting on canvas, 16X20, 2008)

"The Ukrainian Flapper"

I've always had a thing for the Roaring Twenties. I love looking at the old photos from that time period and I save all the pictures that I like. One day I was googling my precious twenties when I came across a photo of a young woman with bobbed hair and angular lips covered with dark lipstick. It reminded me of another photo forever imbedded into my memory. It's a photo of my then eighteen-year-old grandmother from the late 1920's. I don't really know much about her life at the time. She was very secretive about her youth. For a good reason too, as we found out after her death when it turned out that she was married 3 times before finally settling down with my grandfather...

However, there is one story that I do remember. One day my grandmother confided in me that she was kicked out of Komsomol (Communist Union of Youth) for wearing lipstick. Apparently in her youth lipstick was considered 'bourgeoisie' by the ruling Proletariat and thus inappropriate for a young Soviet woman. I don't believe for a minute that she ever regretted wearing lipstick. She was a gorgeous woman who wanted to be free and do as she pleased. That's why I think she kept on remarrying. She was looking for a man who'd be just perfect for her.

I was thinking about my grandma when I started working on the Flapper painting. In the Soviet Union there were countless other women like her; beautiful, intellectual and fun-loving. The October Revolution with its populist fake ideology destroyed their potential and limited their abilities to be themselves. As I was painting I imagined an alternative past for my grandmother. I envisioned her as a movie star surrounded by admirers, listening to jazz and dancing the night away. I know she would've loved it!

"Girls have an unfair advantage over men: if they can't get what they want by being smart, they can get it by being dumb."
Yul Brynner

"Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes."
Oscar Wilde

"I may be strong-minded, but no one can say I'm out of my sphere now, for woman's special mission is supposed to be drying tears and bearing burdens."
Louisa May Alcott