Culture In Depth, 16/12/2017

Street Art in Kharkiv

Located on Nauky Avenue, in the center of the city, a piece of street art that suggests “call me” written in capital letters accompanied by iconic telephones sits high up in an archway of a housing block. Simple and understated, this work is done by local street artist Hamlet, whose signature sits on the far side of all his art.

Call meLocation: 10 Nauky Ave.
Translation: Call Me

 

Street art, which is becoming ever more prevalent in towns and cities across the world, is not to be confused with graffiti. There is, however, a crossover, which at times can be a little difficult to distinguish. Graffiti, which is commonly associated with text and acts as a “tag” for individuals or gangs, is usually illegal and considered vandalism. Furthermore, graffiti does not seek an emotional response to its presence.

Hamlet's signature sits on the far side of all his art
Hamlet’s signature sits on the far side of all his art

 

Hamlet’s work could arguably be considered graffiti due to the existence of a “tag” or signature and the frequent use of text. However, the thought-provoking nature of the words in a legible style, coupled with simple imagery and basic color scheme engages the viewer, much like art in a gallery.  This combination elevates Hamlet’s creations to street art.

Cut off everything unnecessary
Location: 8 Romen Rollan St.
Translation: Cut off everything unnecessary

 

An opinion is a makeweight to what’s happened
Location: 5 Bahaliy St.
Translation: An opinion is a makeweight to what’s happened

 

UK-based artist Banksy was also once considered nothing more than a graffiti artist who worked during the night avoiding the watchful eye of the police. Still working in the cover of night, Banksy’s work is now extremely popular and unique, with many flocking to see his latest works. Like Banksy, Hamlet’s work is not only instantly recognizable, occupying a variety of places and locations but has become extremely popular. Wandering around a Hamlet hotspot, a walking tour with a guide was taking in some of his more famous pieces. His art has been mapped allowing Hamlet’s fans to seek out their favorite works around the city.

With a trumpet it’s possible to say what you can’t with words.
Location: 3 Vorobyov Ln.
Translation: With a trumpet, it’s possible to say what you can’t with words

 

Kharkiv street art is not the sole province of Hamlet. While his work is both popular and abundant, other art forms can be found all over the city. Large murals from Kailas-V creative group, painted onto the sides of high rise towers and city center buildings, are a feature of Kharkiv public art. Extremely colorful and sprawling, some of the murals pay tribute to famous Ukrainians, including poet Taras Shevchenko and actresses Lyudmila Gurchenko and Natalia Fateeva.

Taras Shevchenko
Taras Shevchenko
Location: 30 Sadovy Psge.
Source: Gorodskoj Dozor

 

Lyudmila Gurchenko
Lyudmila Gurchenko
Location: 11 Kravtsov Ln.

 

Natalia Fateeva
Natalia Fateeva
Location: 26 Prymerivska St.
Source: Moniacs

 

Another theme of Kharkiv street art is murals of animals. Animals are a popular subject for this kind of art all over the world. They are endearing not only as creatures but can be depicted in a variety of ways.

Birds
Birds’ murals created by Kailas-V.
Location: 1 Biblyk St.
Source: Kailas-V 

 

Rabbit
Rabbit
Location: 28 Yaroslav Mudryi St.

 

Bull
Bull
Location: 104-A Klochkivska St.

 

Cat
Cat
Location: 16 Hromadyanska St.

 

As Hamlet’s fan, a favorite place of mine for street art is Gogol Street, which runs from Skrypnyka Street and Teatralna Square. On this street, there are a number of Hamlet’s works, from his colorful depictions of Gogol to his more traditional austere designs. Unfortunately, graffiti cover a lot of the art.

Gogol Street

Gogol

Lost-and-found
Translation: I think I have found myself. Better not lose it…

 

Kharkiv is definitely not short of street art. The mixture of local and national heroes immortalized onto the city walls and the unique homegrown talent of Hamlet makes Kharkiv the place for street art lovers!

Location: 104-A Klochkivska St.

 

Pushkin
Location: 67 Pushkinska St.

 

Text: David Belford

Photos: David Belford, Kailas-V, Moniacs.kh.ua, Gorodskoj Dozor