There are happy eyes and a smiling mouth. There is a child who, joyfully, looks all the people from the top of a palace in Kiev, in Ukraine. A spontaneous and belly laugh, who knows how to enjoy simple things, who has the world in hand while having empty hands. One of the images that can less offend or provoke perplexity and discussion, a dear and “safe” theme to make a mural. But the baby is black and some irascible resident of the Ukrainian capital didn’t appreciate.
The work is made by Xav, a multi-faceted artist, divided by the passion for tattoos and murals, that painted the facade of a 20-story building to achieve the greatest work of the city, 70 feet high for 15 feet tall. Xav was invited to Kiev by Iryna Kanishcheva, co-founder, along with Geo Leros, of Art United Us – a project that deserves to be thoroughly explored – with the aim of involving 200 street artists around the world to realize as well as works to raise public awareness by focusing on the problem of war and aggression, but by misleading belligerent propaganda that leads to brainwashing.
Xav, during the realization of this work, had several hollows: the surface of the wall was not completely flat, he had to divide the wall into two pieces due to the platform badly mounted and then classical and predictable atmospheric conditions. But what the Asturian artist did not expect was to receive cruel and racist disapproval from some locals, while day after day he revealed details of his work. So, as chorios and protests intensified, reaching verbal threats, Xav was forced to store brushes and cans for a few days when the work was only 40%. According to Kanishcheva, there was also a former deputy chief of police living in the area (some say he lives right in the palace) and has used visibly racist and sleazy terms to show his criticism in seeing this image in his city.
«Most people liked it, but some complained that the boy was black – says Xav- . I was very surprised because I had not expected a possible racist reaction to my job».
Xav at least completed the mural successfully, and even though he and the curator could be happy at the end, they go away with a bit of bitterness and a bit of negativity. But if Art United Us was made it is also for this. To create, if possible, dialogue and debate: «It’s like a cultural injection with an unpredictable reaction, but it is good to see people react and think, because it makes you human – says Iryna Kanishcheva – . For any country, regardless of the economic conditions, arts and education programs must exist. People learn and express their feelings through art and learn to start a dialogue. Art United Us brought a lot of artistic diversity in Kiev, but I feel like people may need some time to digest this».