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Simferopol's Banksy

Author: Anton Trofimov
Translation: Paul E. Richardson


July/Aug 2014
Art
Page 45   ( 3 pages)


Summary: For six years, a street artist nicknamed Sharik has been leaving his mark on Crimean streets.


Extract:

Sharik[1] is a street artist based in Simferopol, Crimea, whose drawings can be seen in both Russia and Ukraine. He prefers to remain anonymous, naming himself after a balloon. While he has depicted political figures, he has distanced himself from Kiev’s political upheaval and says he has mixed feelings about Russia’s overtaking the peninsula. Anton Trofimov met with Sharik in his hometown.

Who is “Sharik”? Sharik is the creative effort of a regular, statistically average young guy.

You have chosen to remain anonymous. Why? Anonymity is basically a result of the fact that my activity involves breaking the law. Drawing on a wall is an administrative misdemeanor that can lead to punishment. As long as I remain anonymous, people focus on the content of my drawings rather than on who I am.

Do your parents know what you are up to? Yes, they know, but they don’t approve.

How old is Sharik? I begin counting from his first appearance in the newspaper, in 2008.

So six years old. And what drew you to art? A hard life [said with irony].

What do you paint? As any artist, I attempt to embrace as many social phenomena as possible. Most often I do satirical pieces, or, as they have been dubbed by the mass media, “sharp social criticism.”

Soviet images – cosmonauts, pilots – show up in your paintings... why is this? The USSR has been gone for more than 20 years, what inspires this?

Yes, I remember how they even wrote that I was a “sovok.”[2] But the connection is really in the eye of the beholder. For me, it’s about some sort of boyhood passion for flight, for hooliganism, for heroism. What little boy has not dreamed of being a pilot, of tearing through the sky at terrific speeds atop a rocket...

What does that youthful romanticism have to do with the political elements in your art? I seek to embrace society as fully as possible. There are satirical paintings, including some on political themes.

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