Kiev’s Street Art through a Lens

Photographer Amos Chapple returned to Kiev with his camera at the ready to capture the large scale street art murals being painted across Ukraine’s capital.

Amos initially visited Kiev in 2008, although his trip left him battered and bruised from an unprovoked assault. Since the Euromaidan protests of 2014, public murals have been appearing on the streets of the Ukrainian capital, reflecting the youthful energy and national spirit that is unique to today’s Kiev. So Amos returned to the capital to capture this new energy through his camera and to see for himself what Kiev has to offer today.

“I fell in love. The murals capture a spirit of youth and nationhood which are totally unique to Kiev today. To be Ukrainian in the mid 2000s was something which perhaps had little meaning; today I envy the sense of identity which you feel on Kiev’s streets, and which is reflected in this art.” Amos Chapple

French artist Seth Globepainter paints a mural of two boys caught up in chains. The mural sits on a quiet street directly above Kiev’s Independence Square, known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Since the start of Ukraine’s independence movement in 1990, the square has been the traditional place for political rallies, one being in 2013–14 Euromaidan.

Portugese artist Vhils carves into the wall a portrait of Serhiy Nigoyan (1993-2014), the first Euromaidan activist to have died during the Hrushevskoho Street Riots on 22 January 2014. The protests were supported by a majority of the population demanding an end to the corrupt political elite ruling the country.

“The piece is located at Heavenly Hundred Garden, a community project developed by volunteers in a former derelict site in central Kiev with no official support. This is the only way I could contribute, by paying my respects to those who lost their lives in the name of freedom to choose their own future. The eyes of Serhiy are the eyes of all the Heavenly Hundred.” Vhils

The River Crossing, by Australian artist Fintan Magee, crossing borders.

Kailas-V paints a portrait of academic Mykhaylo Hrushevsky, who was among the leading figures in the Ukrainian national revival of the early 20th century. Hrushevsky’s portrait appears on the fifty hryvnia note. One museum in Kiev and another in Lviv are devoted to his memory, and monuments to him have been erected in both cities. A street in Kiev that bears his name houses the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) and many governmental offices, and now thanks to Kailas-V large scale mural he owns the street.

SelfMadeMan, by Ukrainian artist Alexander Grebenyuk shows a man writing, the more he writes, and learns, the more of a man he becomes.

Sasha Korban paints Singing Girl. The Ukrainian artist fled the war in Ukraine’s east, where, before turning his hand to art full-time, he worked as a coal miner in Donetsk.

Another mural by local Sasha Korban promoting freedom.

Brazilian artist Nunca blends Brazilian and Ukrainian cultures in a single character, to welcome a multicultural society.

The Rebuild, by Autralian artist Fintan Magee. The model for the piece was a Ukrainian friend, Kateryna, wanting to rebuild the city.

Drawing inspiration from the Christian tale of Saint George and the Dragon, AEC the Ukrainian artist, from Interesni Kazki paints in his surreal illustrative style, this mural features a serpent grasping at both the east and west of the land. The serpent represents both Russia and the NATO bloc:

“For Ukraine, these two civilizations, in essence, are one snake-monster.” AEC

A lot of the larger scale murals are organised by our friends at Art United Us and Social Mural Club. You can catch more of these impressive murals here.

For more photos from Amos Chapple check out his site here or follow him on instagram.


All photos courtesy of Amos Chapple / Radio Free Europe.



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