For Ukraine: artists around the world create powerful art in solidarity

From Spain to Germany and the UK, art is being used to speak out against Russia's war in Ukraine as violence continues

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As much of the world rallies around the people of Ukraine, from celebrities helping to raise funds for refugees to brands severing ties with or shuttering offices in Russia, artists are also doing their bit to show their solidarity.

Famed design company Pentagram this week released an illustration with the word "Unity" in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The London-founded global company, known for creating memorable designs for brands, said it will be making a donation to the UNHCR to help people affected by the crisis and urged its followers to do the same.

"Pentagram, its partners and staff stand in solidarity with the people and nation of Ukraine. Our thoughts are with everyone there who have become our friends over the years," the company said in a widely shared Instagram post.

British artist and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman created an illustration of the Derzhprom complex in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, located about 20 kilometres south of the border with Russia. The city has been targeted with an intensifying bombardment by Russian forces.

Furman said he was selling his illustration, also printed on mugs and mousepads, with all proceeds going to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. The umbrella group that brings together 15 aid charities in the UK announced this week that its celebrity-backed campaign had already raised more than £100 million ($131m) in four days, including "generous donations" by the British royal family.

"The Derzhprom is a massive and completely unique complex of skyscrapers in Kharkiv from the late 1920s, the largest-ever realisation of the Constructivist vision of modernity, a masterpiece of visionary architecture on an unprecedented scale that has marked the centre of this great city for nearly 100 years," Furman wrote, along with a link to the DEC's appeal site.

Paris street artist Julien Malland, better known as Seth Globepainter, posted a mural last week on his Instagram page, which went viral. The work shows a young girl waving the Ukrainian flag and crushing tanks under her feet.

"For my Ukrainian friends," Malland posted, in French and English.

Colour company Pantone, which has become somewhat of a global authority on colour trends, this week posted a photo of a sunflower, which has emerged as an emblem of support for Ukraine. The company said it as has pledged $1m to charities Global Giving, Save the Children and International Rescue Committee for their work in the country. Attached with the sunflower photo is the Ukrainian flag and the words: "Freedom Blue. Energising Yellow".

"We are committed to doing what we can to support the health, safety and dignity of the refugees and all those who advocate on their behalf," Pantone posted on Instagram.

Northern Irish artist Oliver Jeffers, who this year was honoured with an MBE, created an illustration with bombs mid-air spelling out the words "Why are we back here?"

Jeffers also shared tips with his followers on how they can help Ukrainians, including switching to renewable energy ("This is the source of Russia's power") and by donating to the International Rescue Committee.

"Human Beings are only advanced because of our ability to communicate memory and learn from our past," he said along with his powerful art.

In Frankfurt, graffiti artist Justus Becker, who's also known as Cor, painted the facade of a building with a giant dove holding an olive branch, which has the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

"For peace in the world. For solidarity with the people of Ukraine," Becker posted in German.

Photographer Alex Kraus later shared a close-up of the work with the caption: "No war! No border! No nation!"

Crypto art was also used to help raise funds, with all proceeds for Canadian-Korean digital artist Krista Kim's work going to the Ukraine ETH wallet. Kim is one of more than 100 artists who've joined hands to sell NFTs and help raise funds for the people of Ukraine.

"Search NFTU-KRAINE on open sea and buy any piece from our profile and 100 per cent of proceeds that we retain will go directly to Ukraine," artist and collector David Cash posted.

Last week, Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon was one of the first to post an illustration and urged for peace. Hayon, who lives in Valencia, Spain, drew two birds hugging each other, using the colours associated with both Ukrainian and Russian flags, and the words "Peace now".

"This drawing Is made for all my dear Ukrainian and Russian friends. So sad for all it’s happening. Let’s stop this madness. Got many friends for years in both countries and I am so sad about this horrible Putin decision," he posted.

Hayon shared another artwork on Monday, this time with the words "War & violence" and "Stop". Two faces can be seen shedding tears, in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

"So sad for the innocent victims of this stupid Putin war," he said.

On Tuesday, a graffiti depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holding a bullet-ridden "Stop" sign appeared in a street in downtown Barcelona.

"Please stop this madness," street artist Tvboy posted on Instagram, along with a video.

On Monday, artists in California helped recreate a piece by the late Ukrainian folk painter, Maria Prymachenko, titled A Dove Has Spread Her Wings and Asks for Peace. Prymachenko had 25 paintings that were housed at the Ivankiv Local Museum of History, near Kyiv, which was destroyed by Russian forces.

Artists in San Francisco helped to recreate a work by the late Ukrainian painter Maria Prymachenko. EPA
Updated: March 08, 2022, 2:03 PM