Stylish new book fea­tures 80 works of street art in Kyiv

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY TOMA I STOMINA ISTOMINA@KYIVPOST.COM

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.

Big­ger book

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)

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