French street artist and stencil master, Christian Guemy AKA C215 shows us all the spots he painted in Ukraine this spring. As has been his passion for many years on the street, he brought art to the most unusual of surfaces and locations.
There to help people and lift the spirits of people in the middle of a war, the artist chose the street as a platform to reach out to others with his visual poetry. Going back and forth to Ukraine in March, April, and May, the artist looked for unconventional surfaces to spray his multi-layer portraits and wildlife onto the ruins of the bombed buildings, abandoned and destroyed vehicles and tanks. Here with some explanations, the artist shares his works with BSA readers.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Wasteminister – Greenpeace 2. Слава Україні! (Glory to Ukraine) 3. Bordalo II via Rafael Estefania
BSA Special Feature: Wasteminister – Greenpeace
Using Boris Johnson’s exact quotes, Greenpeace illustrates his folly, and ours.
What if all the plastic that the UK exports in a day were dumped on his head instead?
Directed by Jorik Dozy & Sil van der Woerd Concept & Production by Studio Birthplace Co-Produced by Park Village CG Production by Method & Madness Produced by Sean Lin
Greenpeace – Wasteminister
Слава Україні! (Glory to Ukraine) Via Spray Daily
The graffiti term “Throwup” takes on a different tinge as we watch our young people pushed into war, yet again. Not the rich ones of course. Here’s a wartime video from Ukraine, Nokier & Reys – who say in their Youtube description that they are doing some street bombing and delivering aid and bulletproof vest plates to Ukrainian graffiti writers defending their country.
Bordalo II via Rafael Estefania
“It doesn’t make sense for me to be related to some big brands that don’t really care about the environment. If they are not doing a good job, no way.” Wonder which brands that sponsor Street Art/graffiti culture events and publications meet this criterion?
Gone is the “Disgusting” sweatshirt. Here is the “Life is Beautiful” t-shirt. Why do we think he’s just kidding? Artur Bordalo, also known as Bordalo II, the artist/street artist from Lisbon has been telling us all to awaken to the wasting/polluting of the earth that we are doing. This overview introduces his work to a larger audience – although you could argue that his estimated 190 animal street sculptures made of recycled trash in 23 countries had made his argument more powerfully – and directly.
Never Again Gallery: Ukrainian artists reinterpreted posters from the Second World War
Every generation pats itself on the back, secure in knowing that it is way too savvy to be manipulated by propaganda, even smirking at the simplicity of those who fell for it the last time. Artists may have a better picture of that reality. Or not.
The “Never Again Gallery” project is an online effort by Ukrainian artists that examines the similarities between the visual campaigns that persuaded people about WWII events and the messaging we see daily today regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Perhaps likening the NATO states to the World War II Allies, the project returns to the “hundreds of emotional posters” in cities across Europe and the US advocating for support. With new interpretations of eerily similar sentiments, visitors are encouraged to download PDFs of new posters, which, like the old ones, offer “calls-to-action, instructions, and motivation.”
The project’s messages get muddled; such is the fog of war, you may say. The similarities to the past – and these reinterpretations of compelling images and slogans – may cause viewers to question the motivations of those at war now or those who encourage it. But no one doubts how powerful these artworks can be.
This generation of artists and creatives use Facebook ads, Instagram graphics, and TikTok videos as much as earlier illustrators used posters and print ads to get the point across. One wonders if time passing always assures that artists who lend their creative talents feel pride for having helped their side, or if sometimes there is regret as well, or instead.
Projects like this one from the “Never Again Gallery” remind us that when it comes to propaganda and war, “Never Again” lasts only approximately as long as our memories do.
20 Ukrainian artists attributed to the project:
Tetiana Yakunova, Oleksandra Kovaliova, Anton Logov, Anna Sarvira, Maria OZ, Varvara Perekrest, WAONE Interesni Kazki, Oleksandr Grekhov, Anton Abo, Alina Kropachova, WE BAD, Masha Foya, PLVNV, Mari Kinovich, Alina Zamanova, Bravebirdie, Sestry Feldman, Yulia Vus, Alex Derega, and Marie Hermasheva.
Click HERE to see the whole collection of images and posters, including the original and current versions, and to download and print the posters free of charge.
Click HERE to see the whole collection, including the original and current versions, and to download and print the posters free of charge.
“When I make photographs, I often look into the eyes of the people I am witnessing,” says French-American photojournalist Peter Turnley, who recently published these images from his trip to Ukraine from Paris March 7-16. “Their eyes so often say all that I never could with words.”
Turnley spent his time, ten days, alongside Ukrainian refugees. He published his work, photos, and text in Blind Magazine. We wanted to share his diary and highlight his work with you.
March 7, 2022
“I flew today from Paris to Krakow, Poland, and then boarded a train to Przemyśl on the Polish / Ukrainian border. Already at the Krakow train station, I encountered many Ukrainian refugees that had fled the war in their homeland.
On the train from the airport in Cracow to the train station, I sat next to Liuba, 42, who fled from Zaporozhe, near the site of the Nuclear plant that had been bombed. She explained to me that she felt very guilty to leave her parents there. She is very proud of her husband who has stayed to fight.
At the train station, Vicka, 22, stood with Lidia, her 9-year-old daughter. Liliana and Sofia, from Dniepr, stood together as well.
On the train, Andre, 30, sat across from me. He has been working in Poland and has a wife and a 5-year-old daughter. I asked him why he was returning to Ukraine, and he told me, “I am returning to throw Molotov cocktails to defend my country.”
On the train to the border, Julia, 5, held her pet hamster and rode with her mother Maria, 37. When I arrived in Przemyśl, as I descended from the train, I saw several thousand refugees that had just arrived from Ukraine, boarding a train that was going in the direction of Prague. I walked in the dark up and down the train track next to this departing train. I looked into the eyes of dozens of refugees looking out the train window, waiting to depart for a new world-leaving behind everything they have previously known in life.”
Click HERE to read the complete diary and the photo essay.
Click HERE to read the complete diary and the photo essay.
Peter Turnley is renowned for his photography of the realities of the human condition. His photographs have been featured on the cover of Newsweek 43 times and are published frequently in many of the world’s most prestigious publications. He has worked in over 90 countries and has witnessed most major stories of international geopolitical and historic significance in the last 40 years. He has both American and French nationality.
Taking the current Western hysteria regarding Vladimir Putin into truly Hollywood/graphic novel territory, a Baltimore based father and daughter team Mike and Daniela Kirby chalk it all up to wild-eyed evil.
The new fantasy styled scene positions the pure, innocent and unarmed Ukraine beauty rests upon the tongue of a diabolical president of Russia who is finally delivering on his promised response to NATO’s encroachment – with a well-armed military that is now destroying the country with weaponry. They even include nuclear warheads.
Calling themselves “Murals of Baltimore” Mike and Daniela say they wanted to create a public work on Broadway Square in Fells Point to express their position on the invasion, even if they knew their hard work would eventually be washed away by early spring rains.
“No one paid for this or sponsored it. We just winged it and tried to help as best we could. The mural was made with soft pastels,” he says. “It took 7 days to complete with about 60 hours of labor.”
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. The outcry over the Russian invasion of Ukraine has overwhelmed all other news “coverage”.
In his State of the Union speech this week Biden even conflated sanctions with domestic inflation – but it was already 7.5% annually for a full year before the Ukraine invasion. Using that logic, Putin is also the reason you have no Medicare for All, and the reason there is no student loan debt forgiveness.
New York has so many beautiful communities and we value our Russian and Ukrainian neighbors. We refuse to demonize a whole community collectively, and hopefully you do too.
However repugnant the idea, let’s look for a diplomatic solution on the world stage to this crisis if it is all possible. We all have too much to lose if we don’t try in this incredibly difficult moment in history.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Pear, Subway Doodle, Txemy, Calicho Art, V Ballentine, Under Wave Walls, Mike Raz, Tony Tuan Luong, Manuel Alejandro, Smetsky Art, Deborah Kass, Lady Vday, Sage Gallon, and Michael Neff.
As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to unfold street artists around the world are taking to the streets to express their sentiments for peace. According to those who have lived it and survived, war is hell, and in the end, everybody suffers. The ordinary citizens of both countries are affected by this conflict and will continue to be. Surely there is a way to stop this war?
The Welsh street artist who goes by the name “My Dog Sighs” shares with us his new painting in Cardiff, focusing on the reflection in a Ukrainian woman’s eye.
“We’ve all sat and watched this hideous situation unfurl and while it’s not much, I wanted to do what I know best (throwing paint) to highlight my sadness and anger over the Ukrainian invasion by Russia,” he tells us.
“I used two images to create the silhouette, the first, the beautiful place in the centre of Kyiv and the second a powerful photo that came up on my Twitter feed this morning of last nights attack.The tear speaks for itself. A horrid, horrid situation.I stand with you Ukraine”.
Up-to-the-moment street art today from Polish artist M-City (Mariusz Waras), who converts the façade of a Gdansk warehouse into a social media primer on how to support the people of Ukraine. Sharing a border with this post-Soviet state which has just been invaded by Russian forces, Poland is acutely affected by the implications of possible further aggression – as are the Baltic states and the rest of Europe.
The short list asserts that many social media users may not be fully cognizant of the implications of their posting actions – especially during wartime. M-City took to the walls today to instruct some best practices in these painted advisory messages on how to create your digital ones.
In additional acts of irony, he posts these street art messages on his social media channels – and we publish them for the BSA audience as well.
BSA:Where is this located? M-City: It’s located in a very well-known building which part of Stocznia Gdańska, now Stocznia Cesarska. It is part of the Imperial Shipyard where the workers’ movement, Soliderność (Solidarity), was born.
BSA: What would you like people to understand? M-City: Our Social media landscape is full of fakes and is full of superficial messages. Because of this, many people have a bigger challenge to make their messages visible when they try to organize something and help the Ukrainians.
BSA:Did you create this for a local audience, or specifically an international audience. M-City: It’s in English because now this is a global problem. I wanted to create simple sentences so everyone can understand.
BSA:Are you personally affected by the invasion? M-City: No, it’s still far from us. But I have a lot of friends in Ukraine and I painted there a few times. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are next to our border. Many Ukrainian people are working here now. They arrived here mostly after the beginning of this conflict years ago.
Spanish tattoo artist and muralist Javier Robledo aka Xav brought an enormous joyful boy to Kiev in Ukraine this summer, his largest mural ever at 70 meters high by 15 meters wide. He was pleased by his feat and gratified with the opportunity and result, as was Iryna Kanishcheva, co-founder of Art United Us who organized the wall. The beaming and bright boy looks like he is having a true belly laugh, elated by something, caught mid-adventure during his play day. Often a scene like this is considered the least likely to offend, a safe bet for a public mural.
What Xav didn’t expect was a bubbling racism directed toward his mural by some locals as he unveiled it across the wall; a virulent mini-chorus so suddenly loud that the project was halted for a few days when he was only about 40% finished. “Most of the neighbors liked it, but some people protested because the boy was black,” says the artist, “I was very surprised, because I had not foreseen a possible racist reaction to my work.”
Acrimonious conversations turned to near-threats from a vocal minority and more conversations and sheer determination were needed to push the project forward. Somehow the painting re-started and continued through the rain and winds and the other typical obstacles a public mural initiative normally encounters. Xav eventually completed the mural successfully, but that’s not to say that the negativity hasn’t taken a toll on some who were involved, even if they were pleased with the mural itself.
According to Kanishcheva, some of those neighbors who delayed the project included a former deputy head of police who lived in the area and who used blatantly racist terms to describe dark skinned people in his complaints, saying that he simply didn’t want to see this kind of image in his city.
Often one expects some complaints for any creative public art project; it is something any organizer will tell you they deal with. There simply isn’t unanimity of opinions on such matters. Kanishcheva laments that there also isn’t really an accepted formula for selecting artists and art that everyone will be pleased with when putting together mural programs, and she reflects on some of the factors that help in the decision-making process.
“You can make a decision yourself and take all the responsibility along with the artist,” she tells us, “or you could create a curatorial team, as many would suggest. But the team must be not be made simply of those with art-related diplomas, but also those who have done a few mural projects and have a name in the Street Art world. Finally, to judge and to suggest to an artist what to paint, you have to pay him accordingly,” she says, announcing the kicker, “None of the artists who paint in Ukraine are paid.” You have to agree here that with a lack of financial renumeration for an artist, one should at least give him or her some personal latitude to create work that is satisfying to them as well. To us, that is a given.
Art United Us has conceived of, funded, and produced about 50 new public murals in this city over the past five or so years, and along with some other mural initiatives, the total of new murals may total three times that. In her thoughts about the sheer number of new walls in such a relatively short time, Iryna says the city may need to take a break. Additionally, public projects like hers are not funded by the government and there are limited resources to execute the programs like these, compounding the difficulty of making them happen. Not that she isn’t committed to the positive results of public art programs.
When talking about this new mural, both artist and organizers still stand by it and are glad they persevered to complete it, even if it took a month instead of two weeks as planned. In Kanischeva’s view, the success of the program hinges on pushing questions about racism and other social issues like these to the fore, where they can be openly discussed.
“Ukrainian population is totally white, except the guests of the city and some students from overseas. That’s why they simply couldn’t understand and said things like ‘why do we need this black boy here’. Similar questions arose when Nunca created his mural for a city art project a while ago.”
“I wouldn’t call it racism,” she says, “it is rather a lack of understanding. Many Ukrainians are open minded and culturally developed, but there are still enough of those who spit, throw cigarette butts on the ground and Christmas Trees out of the window into the yard. It is not their fault that they are not properly educated and have these attitudes; it is a more general problem caused by anger, economic instability, dissatisfaction with the Government, unemployment, and hunger. Some of these folks were ready to protest and even cut the high voltage wires of the swing stage – putting an artist and themselves into a danger. To me it just looks like despair.”
“It’s like a cultural injection with an unpredictable reaction – but it is good to see people react and think, because it makes you human,” she says. “For any country, regardless of the economic conditions, arts and education programs must exist. People learn and express their feelings through art and learn to start a dialogue. Art United Us brought a lot of artistic diversity in Kiev, but I feel like people may need some time to digest this.”
“Getting a feel for dramatically upscaling my process,” says London born Jake Aikman as he brings a foreboding and riling image of the Black Sea to Kiev in the Ukraine. Primarily a studio painter back in Cape Town, South Africa, where he obtained a Masters at Michaelis School of Fine Art, this is his first wall ever, and the emotional drama erupts to the surface in a very public way.
Typically his natural canvasses of sweeping seascapes, remote coastlines, and dense forests are rich but calm, perhaps alluding to something beneath the pacifically ambiguous and scenic tableaux. After nine days in July painting this new wall for Art United Us here in Kiev, Aikman appears to be telling us about an aqueous turbulence gathering and materializing before our eyes, capturing with his layering technique the truly storied spirit of this sea, itself known for a turbulent mixing of two layers.
We really dig these new collaged political cartoons that are on the street as quickly as the weeks news – each depicting one of the many rich white men who are impacting our minds and our bank accounts and our health and sense of security right now. Are we watching the White House or Good Fellas? The backstabbing, front stabbing, chicanery, and ongoing systemic tomfoolery makes you wonder who’s actually running things.
The news cycle is hourly it seems, with tweets and personnel changes and threats happening so fast that people are developing PTSD that is triggered by news alerts on the phone. We have to admire any Street Artist who tries to keep up with the developments and get their commentary on a wall.
Even Senator McCain – in our top image above – fresh off his tax-payer funded brain cancer surgery, waivered this week before providing the pivotal vote that saved healthcare for 20 million or so. Most GOP Senators ignored the majority of the US citizens who implored them to fix Obamacare not nix it. But their bank accounts proved far more important than our health. The rich and their corporations are flooding our entire political system and only after we get their money out would we be able to call the USA a democracy. Otherwise we are just fooling ourselves.
So here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Bifido, El Sol 25, Jarus, London Kaye, Luna Park, Miss17, MSK, Myth, Otto Schade, Rime, SikaOne, Solus, Sonni, Spy33, and Wonderpuss Octopus.
“In this area the government is building a gas pipeline and to do it they are cutting many olive trees. Part of the local economy is based on olive oil production, so people are fighting for preserve their lands and trees. I wanted to address this situation with my artwork.” -Bifido
“This mural depicts a woman sitting at the window sill and reaching outwards. Turning the wall into a window is a metaphor for opening your mind and heart towards new ideas and concepts. The woman is in a red dress because I felt it would compositionally fit into the area of the wall and surrounding buildings.”-Jarus
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Jessie + Katey Cover a House Completely in Massachusetts
2. Fabio Petani in Kiev, Ukraine 3. Ampparito in Walthamstow, North London
4. Chris Wunderlich in Portland: Painting with an overcast sky 5. The Future of Cities
BSA Special Feature: Jessie + Katey Cover a House Completely
Bringing art to the public sphere is dicey when you have to be on the run – but that is how some vandals self-style. Others think of the work as a big open-air craft project and are happy to engage with the public. During their month long residency in Allston, Massachusetts in May, Jessie + Katey covered an entire building on Western Avenue with colorful geometries. They’ve been transforming large public spaces with their projects for six years, and each site-specific art installation redefines the relationship between you and the location – often making both more engaged.
Painting with Ampparito in Walthamstow, North London
Spanish Street Artist Ampparito sits with Doug from Fifth Wall to talk about his singular image of a typical Spanish napkin that would be recognizable to his countrymen and countrywomen but not necessarily to people in this neighborhood. See him soon here when we bring you the action at Nuart in Norway this September.
Chris Wunderlich in Portland: On how it is much better to paint with an overcast sky
A strangely named architectural creation called the Fair-Haired Dumbell in Portland, Oregon also has the distinction of being a radically patterned double full-building mural under creation this summer. A quick talk with muralist Chris Wunderlich gives you insight into some of the logistics.
The Future of Cities from Oscar Boyson
For urban planners and designers and, well, the rest of us: A quick paced and riveting examination of the urban environment and how it is likely to change in global locations as cities become the place where the majority of human populations live.