The "Russian Banksy" makes his mark

Graffiti to moralize Russia. This is the goal of the anonymous artist that is covering the country’s walls with works of social denunciation and pacifist inspiration, following the steps of the better-known English artist Banksy.


For a number of years, Bansky has been covering the walls of London and other cities with stencil graffiti in an attempt to transmit his pacifist beliefs. He has given a touch of color to the gray, insurmountable walls of Gaza and to the residences of international stars, including Angelina Jolie and Kate Moss. He also had a clandestine exhibition in the British capital’s Tate Gallery, which earned him a reputation as an “art terrorist.”

The stage name of artist who has been popping up in the Russian blogosphere as the “Russian Bansky” is Sharik, which means roughly “little ball. Contrary to his nickname, Sharik is Ukrainian, born in the city of Simferopol. Sharik took his first steps as an artist by filling the walls of his native city with his creations. Sharik started to become known outside his country when he began to depict some thorny issues in contemporary Russia, for example, the concept of the gangster manager, the western invasion symbolized by brands like Coca-Cola, the violence of authorities and the decline of any kind of ideologies.

Sharik first came to the attention of the authorities in 2007 when Alexander Sokolov, the current Minister of Culture, banned one of Sharik’s works from a joint exhibition of Russian artists in Paris. The work was entitled “The kiss of two Russian police officers in a Siberian forest,” and it was an ironic tribute to Banksy’s work “Kiss between two bobbies.” Sokolov felt that the work would be shameful for the Russian Federation.

Of course being banned from the Paris show didn’t restrain Sharik’s inspiration and creativity. He is also responsible for the picture of Stalin in a street cleaner’s uniform sweeping the Russian streets clean of any foreign ideology or influences. It’s possible that someday, following the steps of Bansky, Sharik will also clandestinely hang one of his works in the Louvre, the British Museum or even Moscow’s Pushkin Museum.

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