Self-made millionaire influencer uses own BLOOD in painting to ‘stop war’

A Russian artist uses her and her husband’s blood in artwork to highlight the Ukraine war, aiming to humanize both sides and urge for peace despite backlash.
A Russian artist uses her and her husband's blood in artwork to highlight the Ukraine war, aiming to humanize both sides and urge for peace despite backlash.
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A Russian woman is using her own blood in artwork to highlight the ongoing war on Ukraine – mixing it with that of her Ukrainian husband.

Victoria Unikel is a self-made millionaire who “clawed” her way out of poverty.

She grew up in a communist-controlled Russia, sharing a cold and crumbling flat with three other families.

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In a real life rags to riches story, the now 46-year-old’s life is now unrecognisable – she wants for nothing and has also found love with husband Gene Avakyan, 52.

A Russian artist uses her and her husband's blood in artwork to highlight the Ukraine war, aiming to humanize both sides and urge for peace despite backlash.
Victoria Unikel with her husband Gene Avakyan. (Picture: Jam Press)

With recent atrocities in Ukraine and Israel, the businesswoman – who is also an artist – has been left horrified at the state of the world.

She is now using her art as a way to urge governments to “stop war”.

“I want to create peace and encourage the end of war,” said Victoria, who lives in Miami, Florida, and boasts 655,000 followers on Instagram, (@victoriaunikel ).

“These paintings use mine and Gene’s blood mixed together to represent the bond of love between Ukraine and Russia.

A Russian artist uses her and her husband's blood in artwork to highlight the Ukraine war, aiming to humanize both sides and urge for peace despite backlash.
Victoria Unikel. (Picture: Jam Press)

“It shows that both sides of the conflict can be connected, as we’re all the same – using blood strips us down to our bare minimum that we are as humans.

“I have also created pieces on Israel’s war on Gaza with photos of victims and blood from a friend, who has Israeli roots.

“My mission is to stop the violence and to humanise both sides.”

It’s a message that’s close to home; Victoria’s own father was imprisoned for political reasons and her grandparents were exiled to Siberia as enemies of the state.

The now millionaire, who used to sleep on a flea-infested sofa, says the injustice of her own past has sparked the passion to work towards justice for others.

A Russian artist uses her and her husband's blood in artwork to highlight the Ukraine war, aiming to humanize both sides and urge for peace despite backlash.
Victoria Unikel. (Picture: Jam Press)

While not everyone agrees with her process and materials, Victoria welcomes the backlash.

She said: “I’m not tip-toeing around the problem and I’m not afraid of the reaction.

“It’s a loud message that not everyone likes.”

To create the art, Victoria uses a lancet device made for diabetics to prick the finger with a needle, drawing blood, which the artist then mixes in with red paint.

The pieces take up to three days to complete, with multiple done at once, using acrylic paint, varnish, photos, blood and canvas isolation, which will protect these for up to 100 years.

A Russian artist uses her and her husband's blood in artwork to highlight the Ukraine war, aiming to humanize both sides and urge for peace despite backlash.
Victoria Unikel’s artwork highlighting the war in the Ukraine (detail). (Picture: Jam Press)

She said: “I’m in talks right now with a well-known gallery in Hollywood, which is where I will share these pieces with those who can appreciate the deeper meaning.

“I truly believe that if we all make a conscious effort to choose good over evil in our own lives, it will spill over to the world around us.

“I’ve put my literal blood, sweat and tears into these pieces of art.

“It’s a message of peace and trying to make others see these victims and those involved as people who are not a part of the conflict.”

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