Lisa Smirnova

Lisa Smirnova, ‘Outpost of Freedom and Pain’, 2023. Photos by Ollie Harrop
Lisa Smirnova, ‘Outpost of Freedom and Pain’, 2023. Photos by Ollie Harrop
Lisa Smirnova, ‘Outpost of Freedom and Pain’, 2023. Photos by Ollie Harrop

Outpost of Freedom and Pain (2023)

Installation, 300×200сm

Outpost of Freedom and Pain is an expanded, sculptural painting which continues Lisa Smirnova’s ongoing experimentations with installation and mixed media. Consisting of a two-sided structure, the work presents a ‘double picture’, referencing the forced cohabitation of two cultures – Ukrainian and Russian – with one side representing the cultural and political landscape of Russia today and the other representing Ukraine.

Central to the depiction of Russian culture is the figure of a horse. The horse, a popular image in Russian culture, denotes both the burden of life, as well as life’s mystery, gravity and beauty. Russian state propaganda is very sophisticated and selective, conscientiously exploiting the Second World War and imperial white ambitions. Propaganda spreads like a form of folklore, with many absorbing its evil ambitions. The emaciation of the horse in this image denotes this condition. 

On the Ukrainian side, the central figure is that of a tree, a popular image in Ukrainian poetry. The artist uses the tree to symbolise the importance of freedom, growth, security and hope. Mosaic and textile are also employed, referring to Soviet Ukrainian monumental art.

Between the two-sided structure lies a gap, depicting the boundary between these two cultures, but also the commonalities and points of convergence between Russians and Ukrainians, which is increasingly difficult to maintain as a result of the war.


The position of the author is not the official position of the war. The author expresses purely her position based on personal experience and does not try to propagandise peace between Russia and Ukraine.

Lisa Smirnova was born on 21.04.1996 in the city of Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine, and studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kiev, at the faculty of fine arts.  She was a member of the STO art group. The STO was formed as a result of the student movement in NAOMA, around criticism of the art educational system in Ukraine. Lisa studied at KAMA, majoring in contemporary art with the artist Lesya Khomenko and at the Lada Nakonechnaya Method Fund course. Now she is studying in the independent art school “Open school east” in Margate,UK. The artist Lisa combines different eras and trends in her work. In her conceptual studies, she creates a new “mythology” that can be found in various genres and techniques such as drawing, painting, installations, stained glass and video.