We met Kurt to get away from it all this summer, so let’s take a trip to Kyiv, Ukraine. Between his 20s and 30s, he made pieces through the city walls, and we are going to find out why with him.
What is your tag? What does signify your tag?
I am a kid of the 90s – the decade that passed under the sign of Nirvana, and also I frequently came across this name in various movies. I felt it was funny and odd. Also, when I was 16 years old. I had long blonde hair, and local rednecks called me Kurt.
Can you tell us how you start to write?
For a long time, I used to live in a small provincial city, where I barely had any opportunity to express myself in the way I wanted. Eventually, I got introduced to graffiti culture, thanks to my friends. I tried, it caught my interest, now I am here.
Why chose writing?
I chose writing consciously after nine years of my graffiti activity. Before this I perceived graffiti rather like sport or adventures, but not like art. When I started to take graffiti as a serious form of self-expression, I became much more conscious and careful about what I want to create. I started to spend a lot of time and energy, so to say, the « pre-production » stage of my works, to find a proper place, to create a compositional and color conception. If I can achieve my goals – I get mental satisfaction.
Did you draw before start writing?
No, I wasn’t interested in drawing before graffiti. I started to study academic drawing at the same time when I started to create my first graffiti works, and it’s more deeply & faster helps me to understand the art world.
How you can define your style?
Hard to say. I like different styles and try not to restrict myself to some specific visual forms. I don’t want to dedicate my time to something limited. I’m also trying to implement my painting into a surrounding, to make a piece a part of the environment.
What is your inspiration for this style?
I’m true, inspired by music. Let’s call it fuel for me. I can be also inspired by old school german graffiti, Japanese paintings, contemporary graffiti crews from Paris, synthwave, and much more where I feel the right vibe.
How we can define what is good letters?
For me based on my understanding of graffiti and its styles, this form of art is limitless in a sense of expression. Moreover, it is open to influxes from other art forms – digital art, various contemporary art practices, illustrators, its available to experiment with types. graffiti just started to evolve seriously, became more complex and diverse. Artists ceased to restrict themselves just to mural paintings, they started to tackle other formats. In summary, I would say that the best letters are those, that get into your head for a long.
Is one style typically of your city or country?
I would say that in Ukrainian graffiti there was more or less common and unique style until the 2010s, the most prominent representatives of which were artists like Frost, Nam2, Glugk, Piar. Nowdays it’s hard for me to define one general visual trend in the Ukrainian graffiti scene. Perhaps, time will show it. What I see now – a whole bunch of various and interesting artists, that barely connected in a sense of style.
Can you tell us how the writing come in your city?
I came to Kyiv from the little town and actively started to draw and meet other artists. At that times there was quite big graffiti community, bigger than now. So I would answer that writing didn’t came to my city – I myself came to writing.
Who is the firsts writing in your city?
I think it’s difficult to claim who was the first one. In Ukraine graffiti started to become popular in the late 80s and early 90s, when youth was obsessed with rap, alternative rock, brakedance and foreign cinema – mostly american. You know, the end of Cold War and the destruction of « iron curtain ». The pioneers of Kyiv graffity was from that generation and without names.
How do people and authorities see the writing in your city, and your country in general view?
In general, people mostly have a negative attitude. I mean, first of all, the older generation, fostered in USSR, people who saw nothing but grey walls of typical apartment blocks with soviet propaganda on them. Most people here don’t accept writing as art. They barely accept it as color stains.
What is the connection you have with your city, your country?
I love my country, smart and talented people are abundant. I think the world starts to open Ukraine and Ukraine just starts to get rid of the soviet and post-soviet crappy mentality.
Can we think of writing as a form of democracy?
If we look at the very formulation of direct democracy, it turns out that the graffiti artists’ behavior falls under this definition only in Wikipedia. To judge strictly, there are no fully democratic countries in the world. Graffiti is anarchism, where every participant has his own rules and game. Some draw only legal walls. Some do trains, subways, etc. Some just tags in a light-minded way. And in many cases, all these persons and crews have no connection and barely tend to communicate with each other. Classic Ukrainian anarchism of Nestor Makhno.
If the artwork creates a world and life imitates art more than art imitates life, what kind of world you want your painting impulse?
If I understand the question properly… I don’t consider that art creates a world, and life imitates art. As for me, this is the two-way street, on which an accident constantly occurs. An accident, caused by a whole bunch of other factors, that affect reality in a much more powerful way, than do art – I mean politics, society, economy, etc. I don’t strive to consciously influence life, to « create a world » – it creates itself on its own. I just leave my traces on its surface. If it somehow affects the course of events – ok, but I don’t do it on purpose.
Do you think it is like one chromotherapy for the city where the dominant is grey?
In many cities all around Ukrainian our local governments came up with the idea of making our cities more colorful and motley – I am talking mostly about those soviet districts with thousands of monotonous grey apartment blocks. It instilled life in this city zones. So, if you are asking, my answer – I am sure about the chromotherapy.
Do you have a word for the end?
I am grateful for having graffiti in my life. It did shape my lifestyle, and without it, I would have a completely different experience. True graffiti, I met lots of great people, shared with them my obsession, energy, good and bad times. Life is an adventure, and it’s up to you how complicated or easy it is going to be. Thanks.
Follow him on Instagram: Okkurtism