We have had an incredibly mild fall in Kyiv. Hoping to beat the snow (which still hasn’t fallen), A and I took advantage of the weather a couple weekends ago and spent a full day exploring street art in a new part of town.
We met for brunch downtown at a popular cafe called Milk Bar then hopped the metro for the Left Bank. (A side note: Strangely enough, when you look at a map, the Left Bank is actually on the right side of the river. I haven’t yet figured out why it’s called the Left Bank, but it is what it is.) The Left Bank is primarily residential, and there’s not much on this side of the Dnipro River that would be of interest to the average visitor.
However, there is a cluster of street art on the Left Bank we wanted to check out, which ended up being a double dose of awesome. Not only was the art really well done with interesting stories, but it was nice to purposefully wander through a different neighborhood. Plus, quality friend time! (This means we also took fun selfies and did a little bit of shopping too.)
That’s a win-win-win right there.
There is a stellar iPhone app that offers background information on a lot of Kyiv’s street art murals. This extra context makes them particularly interesting because so many of them have some sort of historical or cultural connection to Ukraine. Even though I adore street art in general, this is one of the reasons I love it here in particular.
(You might remember A and I went street art hunting on one of my first days in Kyiv. I didn’t have the app then, so I need to revisit these pieces so I can read a little more about them.)
But I digress …
Here are a few of my favorite pieces from our most recent street art walk.
Instability – Every time we drive to or from the airport, we see this mural of the pseudo-dancer on a bomb, and it’s always been one of my favorites. It is a criticism of the failure of people on Earth to coexist with each other.
Art by Ernesto Maranje – The app doesn’t note a name for this piece, but it’s by a Miami-based artist and is intended to imagine people free from the constraints of living on land.
Fraternity – By far one of my favorite new art discoveries during our day, this piece highlights the values of respect, freedom and diversity. Further, beyond fraternity within families, the piece is meant to signify an opportunity to treat other people we encounter throughout our lives the way we want to be treated in return.
Love Runs the World – I think this piece speaks for itself. Though the colorful portion is what you notice the most, we found lots of little nuances in the black-and-white background as well.
Present – This is the piece on the far left of the woman hugging the ghost of a person (who has an arrow through his/her back). This piece made me feel sad, but the artist encourages viewers to come to their own interpretations about what it means.
Name Unknown – The piece in the same photo as Present is particularly interesting and packed with Ukrainian context. Within this piece is the face of Taras Shevchenko, a Ukrainian poet, writer and public figure who is basically considered a national icon. And then, hidden within the flowers, vegetation and rocks, are boyars (people belonging to the upper ruling class of the old aristocracy).
Archangel Michael and the Dragon – Michael, who appears in Ukrainian and Russian Orthodoxy, is depicted in this piece. The mirrored effect represents the conflict in Crimea and the Donbas between Ukraine and Russia.
Treasury – There is not much information available about this piece beyond the artist’s name, Alexandr Britcev.
Shelter – We found a few pieces that spread across numerous building sides, but they are hard to photograph. The artist cut this one in half to show that beauty can present itself even in the darkest moments, and everything can change depending on the perspective we take to look at the situation.
School Mural – Though many pieces of street art were commissioned shortly after the Maidan Revolution, many others are much newer. This one, located on the side of a school building, was painted in July of this year, so it’s brand spankin’ new!