New Banksy art in Ukraine – showing support for the fighters or taking advantage of a tragedy for a global spotlight?

Seven new pieces of art attributed to the England-based street artist Banksy have appeared on the walls of destroyed buildings in Ukraine. The artist has taken credit for all seven, three days after only confirming that one was his work.

The first mural, the one Banksy has posted to his own Instagram page, is in the town of Borodyanka. Northwest of Kyiv, it was an early target of shelling and fighting. The mural is painted on one of the few remaining walls of an apartment block, now burnt, blown-apart, and utterly gutted. This mural is of a gymnast doing a handstand, a strong pose and strangely echoed by the charring of the wall on which it’s painted. It was positioned so it looks like the woman is balancing on a ragged chunk of rebar-jagged rubble.

In the same town, another larger mural shows a small boy doing a judo throw of a large man. This mural too is painted on a last fragment of wall, over a field of rubble and burnt-out cars that was another housing block. This one may perhaps be sharply pointed – Russian President Putin is known for practicing judo competitively.

In Kyiv, a mural shows a rhythmic gymnast wearing a neck-brace pirouettes balanced on absence – on a hole blown in the wall of another apartment building. Another one depicts two children using a tank trap as a seesaw, a woman in hair curlers and a gas mask standing on an abandoned chair, and a woman bathing on the interior wall of an apartment exposed to the elements by massive blast damage.

This is Banksy’s first series of art in a year, since he traveled through small towns in England leaving small and large works on random buildings last summer. His intentions in Ukraine are being given the benefit of the doubt, after the sale of one of his pieces in March raised over $100,000 for a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Photo: Gennadiy Naumov / Shutterstock