The Cultural Connection to Street Art in Kyiv
Since 2014, local and international artists have painted more than 170 murals on aging Soviet-era buildings throughout Kyiv, Ukraine. The murals have established the city as a global center of public street art and encouraged people to explore parts of Kyiv they may not otherwise visit.
Many of the artworks capture political tensions with Russia or themes related to Ukraine’s Maidan revolution, which took place in February 2014 at the end of the Euromaidan protests. Those demonstrations marked a period of civil unrest from 2013 to 2014 that was sparked by the public’s perception of widespread government corruption and abuse of power.
The most famous mural, “Renaissance,” appears on a five-story apartment building near St. Andrews Church. Created by Alexie Kislow and French artist Seth Globepainter, the artwork depicts a Ukrainian girl with a crown on flowers and celebrates the French Spring Festival that took place at the end of the Euromaidan protests. The mural represents Ukraine’s rebirth after the 2014 revolution and renewed hope for the future.
Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, also known as Vhils, painted a mural of activist Serhiy Nigyohan, the first person killed during the Euromaidan demonstrations who became a symbol of the Ukrainian revolution. Instead of painting the protester’s face, Vhils carved it directly onto the wall of a building using exposed bricks and falling plaster.
“Lake” is the work of London-based Ukrainian artist Anastasia Belous. Located near the Museum of Modern Art of Ukraine, the mural shows a woman floating in a pond surrounded by water lilies and koi fish and imparts a sense of calm.
Some of the more recent works of art honor famous Ukrainians who left a lasting impact on the country. “Lily of the Valley,” a piece by Australian artist Guido Van Helten, honors the Ukrainian poet, freedom fighter, and feminist activist Lesya Ukrainka. Fintan Magee’s “The Dreamer” features Anna Rizatdinova, an Olympic bronze medalist and rhythmic gymnast. Magee also painted the mural “River Crossing,” which shows a deer helping a man cross a river. The work symbolizes Ukraine’s post-revolution period of transition.
Although the murals can be a novel way to learn more about the nuances and emotions surrounding political and historical events in Ukraine, some also provide a pop of color in otherwise drab locations.
The website kyivmural.com lists the locations of all the murals, among them a yellow rubber duck on a vibrant purple background and a closeup of a happy Bernese Mountain Dog.