Banksy Reveals Seven Murals Throughout War-Torn Ukraine

The news comes amid speculation about the anonymous graffiti artist’s whereabouts

Banksy's handstand mural
The mural was painted on the side of a building damaged by Russian airstrikes.  Oleg Pereverzev/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The street artist Banksy has confirmed that he is the creator of seven new murals in Ukraine, reports the Art Newspaper’s Anny Shaw.

Until recently, the anonymous British artist had not shared any information about his location. But art in his distinctive style has been popping up throughout Ukraine, causing speculation about his whereabouts, per the Washington Post’s Victoria Bisset.

At first, Banksy claimed ownership of only one artwork: a mural in Borodyanka, a Ukrainian town devastated by Russian airstrikes. On Friday, he shared three images of the mural in an Instagram post, which is captioned simply: “Borodyanka, Ukraine.” Painted on the side of a crumbling building, the piece depicts a gymnast doing a handstand on a pile of rubble.

Borodyanka, which is about 35 miles northwest of Kyiv, sustained significant damage after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Some 13,000 people lived in the town before the invasion, and most of them fled, according to CNN’s Sophie Tanno. It fell under Russian control in late February; by the time the occupation ended in April, homes and buildings had been destroyed.

“[The mural] is a symbol that we are unbreakable,” Oleksiy Savochka, a 32-year-old Ukrainian, tells the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “And our country is unbreakable.”

This week, Banksy told the Art Newspaper that this mural is just one of seven new artworks he created throughout Ukraine.

Banksy's other Borodyanka mural
Also in Borodyanka, this Banksy mural portrays a young boy flipping an older man onto his back. Oleg Pereverzev/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In one of them, also in Borodyanka, a young boy flips an older man onto his back in a judo match. Some speculate that the older man is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is known to be a judo enthusiast.

Another is on the side of a residential building in the suburb of Irpin. Similar to the original handstand mural, it depicts a gymnast—but this time, she wears a neck brace and performs with a ribbon, balancing on top of a hole in the wall of the damaged building.

Several of the new artworks juxtapose wartime imagery with snapshots of civilian life: In one, children ride a metal tank trap as a seesaw, per the Art Newspaper. In another, a woman in her dressing gown wears a gas mask.

Mural of gymnast in neck brace
Onlookers observe a mural on the wall of a destroyed residential building in the Ukranian city of Irpin.  Gwnya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

Banksy’s art has been used to support Ukraine before. In March, an anonymous donor sold a print of CND Soldiers, one of the artist’s famous anti-war pieces, and donated the proceeds to a children’s hospital in Kyiv. Painted in 2003, it was originally created to protest the war in Iraq.

The new artworks are Banksy’s first public murals in over a year. Back in Borodyanka, several travelers gathered to see them in person, reports Reuters’ Gleb Garanich and Max Hunder. One of them was Alina Mazur, a 31-year-old visitor from Kyiv.

“This is such a historic moment for our country,” said Mazur, “that people like Banksy and other famous figures are coming here and showing the world what Russia has done to us.”

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