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Icons Of Ukraine: Street Art Marks World's Support For A People And A Cause

In the last 100 days, street art murals supporting Ukrainian resistance have appeared everywhere from Kyiv to Syria. Here's a look at the most moving and powerful murals.

A man takes a photo of a mural in support of Ukraine

Displaced Kharkiv artist Mariia Vashchenko painted a mural of a girl in traditional clothing Uzhhorod, Zakarpattia Region, Ukraine.

Andriy Darkovich

KYIV — "Art is our weapon. Culture is a form of resistance"

These words belong to Shirin Neshat, an Iranian political refugee, photo artist and film director living and working in exile in the United States.

Art forms the context and culture that decides how society will perceive certain historical events, and, as a result, which society will be the winner of the war. So, this statement brings us to the Ukrainian art of the last 100 days. This is the art of information resistance.

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Films, books and paintings based on the events after February 24 are just appearing in the authors’ minds. The CHESNO movement (from the Ukrainian word "honestly") decided to make a selection of street art about the war as part of the exhibition "Information Front: Boards, Murals, Graffiti." They want to preserve these cultural and artistic voices.

In Ukraine, large murals are the main form of traditional street art, as they will not be erased by housing and communal services the next day. This has not changed in the last 100 days.

Murals around Ukraine

"Holy Javelin" has become the most discussed mural. Designed by a Canadian journalist of Ukrainian origin, Christian Boris, the mural adorns Aviaconstructor Antonov Street in Kyiv.

The ancient tradition of painting icons has been modernized. Instead of swords or spears, the mural depicts the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile system. However, its combination with a religious symbol — a halo — aroused the discontent of the Council of Churches. At their request, the halo was erased.

Another mural by Konstantin Kachanovskyin Rivne, a city in west Ukraine, has a similar theme. It depicts a Ukrainian woman with a weapon in her hands.

The ancient tradition of painting icons has been modernized.

And a mural artists Anton Kravchenko and Oleksandr Fastovets in Poltava, a city in central Ukraine, features soldiers, a dog and a kitten. In the center of the picture is a girl in national dress with a wreath on her head with loose ribbons. She holds the coat of arms of Ukraine. To her left are border guards, and to her right the infantry of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Next to her is an Azov fighter with a cat in his arms, and on the ground is the dog Patron, who helps rescuers clear mines in liberated territories.

And in the Obolon district of Kyiv, a mural by artist Oleksandr Korban reads: "Warrior sewing together the flag of Ukraine." It depicts the hands of the military sewing together a flag that symbolizes the country. The mural was created during the liberation of Irpin and Bucha.

A mural shows hands stitching the Ukrainian flag

Ukrainian artist Sasha Korban created this symbolic mural in Kyiv.

Sasha Korban

Street art around the world supporting Ukraine

Street art in Ukraine often takes places against the backdrop of air raids in shelling. But in the safer streets of cities around the world, murals have also appeared in the last 100 days.

"Faces of Heroes and Victims" can be seen on the wall of the Street Museum in Amsterdam. Street artist Magdalena Anopsi painted portraits of two Ukrainians who died in this war. Who are they?

Vitaliy Skakun, 26 years old, junior combat engineer. He sacrificed his life to blow up the bridge. He died on February 24, at the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine. He died defending his country. And a girl, Polina, was killed on March 19 together with her parents on the streets of Kyiv. She was a 4th grade student.

Murals also honor living heroes. Zakhar Nechypor, a Ukrainian actor, became famous for a New York Times viral report about civilians who sought to defend their country and overcrowded military recruiting centers in the early days of the war. Now Zakhar's face as a collective image of courageous civilians adorns the town of Letterkenny in the north of Ireland.

The painter of that mural, Ciarán Dunlevy, said: “It is honoring their exceptional courage, strength, humanity and power. We want them to know that the Irish people stand with them in solidarity and love."

Symbols of resistance

In addition to the heroic fate of Ukrainians, artists pay great attention to the symbols of spirit and struggle.

"Rooster from Borodianka" is a symbol of the unbreakable spirit of Ukrainian people that adorns the city of St. Gallen in eastern Switzerland. The mural has an inscription in Ukrainian: "No to war." The ceramic clay rooster became famous all over the world after the Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson received the same roosters as a gift during his visit to Kyiv.

Artists pay great attention to the symbols of spirit and struggle.

"Ukrainian Resistance" is a digital remake of the work by Banksy, who donated 100,000 euros to the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine from the sale of one of his works.

Instead of the usual flower bouquet, previously depicted in Banksy's work, sunflowers appeared in the remake as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. Even hackers from Anonymous shared this photo on their Twitter.

A mural reproducing work by Banksy in the context of the war in Ukraine

"Ukrainian Resistance" is a remake of the work by Banksy, with sunflowers replacing the bouquet from the original work.

Livy Bereg

Empathy for the Ukrainian people

"To Ukraine with Love" is a work that refers us to the title of the James Bond film From Russia with Love. The title symbolizes the change of feeling in the global community.

In Corie Mattie's work, Putin's disembodied head is being carried away from one of the streets of Los Angeles to Ukraine. The author added QR codes to her mural. The link leads to a website where you can donate or find information about the war in Ukraine.

One of the main themes for art objects in the world has become empathy for the tragedy of the Ukrainian people. So in Tbilisi, they created an object supporting Ukraine in the war.

Even more moving is the picture on the wall of a house bombed by Russian troops in Syria. "Solidarity of Syrians with Ukrainians" is how the artist Aziz Al-Asmar signed his work.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

After Abbas: Here Are The Three Frontrunners To Be The Next Palestinian Leader

Israel and the West have often asked: Where is the Palestinian Mandela? The divided regimes between Gaza and the West Bank continues to make it difficult to imagine the future Palestinian leader. Still, these three names are worth considering.

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas speaking into microphone

Abbas is 88, and has been the leading Palestinian political figure since 2005

Thaer Ganaim/APA Images via ZUMA
Elias Kassem

Updated Dec. 5, 2023 at 12:05 a.m.

Israel has set two goals for its Gaza war: destroying Hamas and releasing hostages.

But it has no answer to, nor is even asking the question: What comes next?

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the return of the current Palestinian Authority to govern post-war Gaza. That stance seems opposed to the U.S. Administration’s call to revitalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume power in the coastal enclave.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

But neither Israel nor the U.S. put a detailed plan for a governing body in post-war Gaza, let alone offering a vision for a bonafide Palestinian state that would also encompass the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers much of the occupied West Bank, was created in1994 as part of the Oslo Accords peace agreement. It’s now led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat in 2005. Over the past few years, the question of who would succeed Abbas, now 88 years old, has largely dominated internal Palestinian politics.

But that question has gained new urgency — and was fundamentally altered — with the war in Gaza.

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