I’ve got lots to say about Kyiv, but I thought I’d kick off with a lively blog about some of the huge wall murals scattered all around the city by some very talented street artists!
Looking for street art is a fun way to get to know a new city. You end up going down streets you might not usually bother strolling down and finding gems outside of the guidebooks. In some cases you might also learn about some of the political issues going on in the place, that certainly felt the case for some of the street art in Kyiv.
There are so many wall murals to find, you’d need a few weeks in the city to complete the task. Only having five nights and wanting to see so much already, I just tried to find what I could. Google Maps wasn’t working on my phone for some reason so I had extra difficulty trying to navigate my way around the city. Luckily, my sense of direction didn’t fail me on too many occasions with the assistance of the ol’ paper map.
But if you have Google Maps it’ll be an absolute breeze if you follow this map which details most of the city’s street art.
I want to begin this list with this portrait of Serhiy Nigoyan by Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, known as Vhils. Nigoyan was a young activist and sadly also the first person to be shot dead in the Euromaidan protests on 22 January 2014. The protests were sparked by the Ukrainian government’s decision to reject the signing of an association agreement with the European Union, instead choosing closer ties to Russia. Many, many people were not happy with their government’s desire to be closer with Russia, so these protests were supported by a majority of the population demanding an end to the political elite ruling the country.
I think during times of political unrest this is also when you see people becoming more engaged with their community – putting up street art is an example of this.
This pretty mural of a bird hanging from a light bulb is titled Freedom by Ukrainian artist Alex Maksiov, who specialises in 3D-effect street paintings. It’s located beside a children’s park and opposite the building is another wall mural, however, this birdie definitely steals the limelight.
Location: 12 Ivana Franka Street
This bright and surreal wall mural was created by Ukrainian-born street art duo Interesni Kazki whose name literally translates to ‘interesting fairy tales’. Their style is the combination of Ukrainian folkloric characters, traditional stories, and pure surrealism. Their subjects vary from complete abstraction to the depiction of famous Ukrainian personalities and interpretations of folklore and history.
Location: 6 Small Street
This striking wall mural of a women falling is actually a portrait of Ukrainian gymnast Hanna Rizatdinova, who is originally from Crimea but now based in Kiev. Rizatdinova made her condemnation of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula publicly known, ‘How can Crimea be Russia? How can our Simferopol school train under a Russian flag? I was outraged,’ she said. Street artist, Fintan Magee, decided to paint this portrait of her titled The Dreamer.
Location: 12 Small Street
Tip: There are quite a few murals to find on Small Street, so definitely worth heading in this direction.
Location: 9/11 Small Street
This beautiful mural created by Guido Van Helten is titled Lily Of The Valley. The concept is based on the poem by Lesya Ukrainka, a Ukranian freedom fighter, poet and female activist. It’s hard to capture the scale of the mural in a photo, it’s HUGE, and located just below a little out-door public garden, a perfect place to rest your feet for a few moments.
Location: 28 Small Street
Inside a carpark I stumbled across this wall mural, Self Made Man, by Ukrainian artist Alexander Grebenyuk. It depicts a man on his type writer and judging by all that paper he doesn’t suffer from writer’s block!
As you can see below, you’ll also be able to find a few other wall murals running down Honchar street so keep your eyes peeled.
Location: 24a Honchar Street.
I’d recognise street art by ROA anywhere! This Belgian street artist is primarily known for his consistent depiction of animals and rodents which quickly distinguishes him amongst muralists.
If you’re interested to see another piece by ROA, check out this blog about street art in Brussels.
Location: 23 Honchar Street
On the wall directly opposite ROA’s mice is another mural by Sebas Velasco, a Spanish street artist. Sebas said the man in the mural is a local man from Kiev who invited him out for dinner. It must have been an extremely delicious dinner, that’s all I can say!
Location: 36a Honchar Street
Located on really busy intersection is this large wall mural. Unfortunately there was too much traffic so I couldn’t get closer enough to find the artist’s name.
Location: 12 Starovokzalnaya Street.
Less than a minute’s walk from the Chernobyl Museum you’ll find this mural by Brazilian artist, Nunca. The concept of the work was to blend Brazilian and Ukrainian cultures in a single character.
Location: 6a Spasskaya Street
Not too far away from the Chernobyl Museum on Andriyivskyy Descent, often described as the ‘Montmartre of Kiev. This brightly coloured mural is titled Renaissance by Seth Globepainter and Ukrainian artist Kislow.
Location: 33/6 Borichev Tick Street
What I’ve shown you here is only a tiny fraction of the street art in Kyiv – I’d love to go back and see the rest – wouldn’t you?