Stylish new book features 80 works of street art in Kyiv
With the Art United Us project, which brought dozens of artists to Kyiv to create murals, having come to an end last year, a new book has been published featuring the works the project produced — 80 murals that now adorn the streets of the capital.
“Kyiv Street Art Vol. 2” as the name suggests is the second, extended edition of the book published in 2017. It features photographs of the murals and the artists who creat- ed them, as well as provides short descriptions of the ideas behind each piece.
Apart from the murals that were created as part of the project, the book introduces readers to other street art in Kyiv.
Ukrainian director Geo Leros, 29, the founder of Art United Us and the co-author of the book, says that compiling a book was a nice way to round off the project. However, he also wanted to include other artworks created on Kyiv’s streets in recent years.
“I wanted to focus on the city and the identity that it has acquired,” Leros told the Kyiv Post.
The 341-page book will cost from Hr 900 and more, depending on the bookstore. It is now available for pre-order and is expected to hit the stores next week.
Art United Us
Leros encountered street art in the United States when he was shooting a film there four years ago.
He says that he met U.S. artists, and visited the Wynwood district of Miami and the Soho neighborhood in New York, both famous for their many outstanding murals.
“I was inspired by the powerful messages they put into the art, and in which quantities it is made there.”
Leros was so inspired by what he has seen in the United States, that he decided to try doing something like it in Ukraine.
When he came back, the director launched the City Art initiative and contributed to the creation of 15 murals in central Kyiv, as well as installing artsy benches in var-
ious forms and colors in the city’s Shevchenko Park.
He says that City Art aimed to attract tourists to Kyiv. However, the 15 murals didn’t have a great impact on the touristic image of the city.
“That is why we decided to make a lot more.”
And so a new, bigger project, Art United Us, was born.
The project’s team, which consisted of a couple of volunteers who joined Leros, worked on receiving permissions from Kyiv City State Administration to create murals, collected signatures of approval from building residents, contacted artists, and raised funds.
Leros says that creating each mural cost $2,000–4,000 on average, and numerous companies, organizations and persons voluntarily financed the project. “This is (their) gift to the city.” Over 2016–2017, Art United Us brought to Kyiv over 50 artists from Hr 900 and more. Available for pre-oder at the publisher’s website — sbook.com.ua/uk North and South America, Africa, Europe and Australia.
Leros says that the team looked up ratings, blogs and media that focus on street art, and invited some of the best internationally acknowledged artists to work in Kyiv.
“There were no criteria, the message the artist wanted to deliver was what was important.”
The director says that the artists didn’t receive any payments, as the project couldn’t afford it. However, the freedom to pick topics and the large walls on which to create their art appealed to them.
“Street art is on the edge of legal and illegal. Every artist that goes outside decides what to do by themselves,” Leros says.
After the project ended in 2017, Leros decided to transform the results of their work into a book. There are many books depicting street art of New York, London, Berlin and Copenhagen, and he believes that Kyiv shouldn’t be an exception.
“Kyiv Street Art Vol. 2” will be published in a print run of 1,500 copies.
The heavy 341-page edition has large photos that depict the murals, the process of their creation and the artists who painted them.
Stylish and heavy, the book also provides descriptions of the artists’ backgrounds and experience, as well as explaining the ideas they embodied in their works.
The murals themselves were created in various styles and with different techniques.
Some of the artists, like Nevercrew — a Swiss duo of Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni — produced a work that continued their own long-term themes.
The duo aims to attract people’s attention to the issue of global warming and the extinction of animal species, so in Kyiv, they painted a semi-inflated balloon in the form of a whale, whose movement is burdened by fixing ropes.
Other muralists created works reflecting subjects sensitive in Ukraine.
Street artist MTO from France, who prefers to remain anonymous, painted a house facade and a large object in the form of heart hitting the house and smashing it. He called the mural “From Russia with Love” showing the fakeness of Russia’s claims that it wants to protect Ukrainian people while invading Crimea and unleashing the war in the country’s east.
The murals were painted all over the city, and a number of tour agencies now offer tours around the street artworks.
Apart from that, Kyiv’s new murals are now among the lists of best street artworks compiled by foreign media and blogs, including the I Support Street Art and Street Art Today websites.
Leros believes that there are at least 20 murals in Ukraine that are among the best examples of street art around the globe.
Although there were only 13 Ukrainians among the 50 artists who painted for the project, Leros says that Art United Us triggered the development of street art in the country, as some of the young artists got a chance to assist more famous muralists, while others were inspired by their works.
“The city is developing rapidly in terms of art, muralists are also developing, and talented artists are appearing,” Leros said.
Ukrainian director Geo Leros, the author of the "Kyiv Street Art Vol. 2" book that features over 80 murals created on the streets of Kyiv, shows the book to the Kyiv Post at the My Bookshelf store in Kyiv on Oct. 9, 2018. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)
"Kyiv Street Art Vol. 2" is the biggest book about street art in the Ukrainian capital. The book offers photos of over 80 murals and explains the ideas behind them. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)