ArtDependence | Belgian Author and Art Expert Chronicles Banksy Graffiti in Ukraine

Belgian author and art connoisseur Marc Pairon (64) visited the area around the Ukrainian capital several times. In the new art book ‘BANKSY IN UKRAINE – F*CK PTN!’, he gives an overview of the seven Banksy graffiti. The book was written in Flanders but printed and published in Ukraine. The Ukrainian postal company Ukrposhta handles the international distribution of the books. The proceeds from the sale of this art book will go entirely to the reconstruction of Ukrainian schools (www.rebuild-ua.world). The official release of the book takes place on 24 February 2024, day to day two years after the Russian invasion. “It is a serene tribute to all Ukrainian children,” Pairon explains. “After all, they are the main victims of the war.”

In Kyiv, Banksy, whose identity has remained a closely guarded secret, painted “On the Seesaw”. The work depicts two children playing on an anti-tank obstacle. Elsewhere in the capital, he integrated an earlier graffiti work into the mural ‘Military Transport’. 

On a damaged building in Irpin, Banksy painted ‘Rhythmic Gymnastics’. A gymnast dances with a brace around her neck above a large hole in the wall. In Horenka, ‘The bather’ popped up, an old, bearded man in a bathtub. ​

Banksy in Ukraine - book cover

Banksy in Ukraine – book cover

In Borodyanka, two works appeared: ‘Handstand’ and ‘The Judo Match’. In ‘Handstand’, it looks like a girl standing on a piece of concrete in a handstand. ‘The Judo Match’ is a contemporary version of the David and Goliath story: a small boy floors an adult black belt judoka. The male ‘giant’ shows strong resemblances to one Vladimir Putin, who was stripped of the honorary presidency and ambassadorship of the international judo federation shortly after the invasion of Ukraine. Banksy thus honours the superhuman feats of the Ukrainian army and local people, who heroically resisted a heavily armed superpower.

Woman in Bathrobe, Banksy

The ‘Woman in bathrobe’ mural the British artist left on a building in Hostomel has already disappeared at the hands of art thieves. Meanwhile, to protect the other Banksy graffiti from theft and vandalism, bulletproof glass plates were placed over the six other works. 

n the book, in addition to the seven murals, Pairon also discusses the now coveted Banksy stamps and related limited philately editions, issued by Ukrposhta on 24 February 2023.

The multi-coloured art stamp features Banksy’s ‘Judo Fight’. The title in Cyrillic of the occasional stamp is ПТН ПНХ! (Putin, Go F*ck Yourself!) or FCK PTN! This curse is neither Banksy’s nor Ukrposhta’s invention, but as a resistance cry, it has long been ingrained in the patriotic part of the Ukrainian population. ​

Marc Pairon’s earlier publications include the 2006 art book ‘Art Deco Ceramics – Made in Belgium’, which is still used worldwide as a reference work, and 2020’s ‘Banksy – The Walled Off Art Editions are Sold Out!’, an art book about Banksy’s oeuvre on the West Bank. 

The publication ‘BANKSY IN UKRAINE – F*CK PTN’ is available from Ukrposhta’s online shop (https://postmark.ukrposhta.ua)

More information: www.rebuild-ua.world

Main Image :Judo Fight, Banksy

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