An Australian artist has apologised and painted over a mural of two hugging Ukrainian and Russian soldiers that was recently unveiled in Melbourne.
Artist Peter Seaton – who works under the name CTO – was forced to paint over the mural titled “Peace Before Pieces” on Kings Way in Melbourne after it received a “barrage of online hate” and a remark from the ambassador of Ukraine to Australia and New Zealand.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko tweeted saying the mural was “utterly offensive to all Ukrainians” and asked for it to be removed.
Mr Myroshnychenko said the artist had “no clue” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that it was “disappointing to see it done without consulting the Ukrainian community in Melbourne”.
“The mural creates a sense of a false equivalency between the victim and the aggressor. It must be promptly removed,” he added.
On Monday, Mr Seaton told local media that he was up until 3am painting over his mural.
He also “sincerely” apologised to the Ukrainian community, but at the same time defended the artwork as an attempt to illuminate the human cost of war. “There is an element of war which is about dehumanising the opposition. My artwork was only about bringing the human element to both of these warring factions.”
“People feel offended by the work – maybe that’s on them as well,” he told ABC News.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Art4Ukraine Australia community was consulted about the artwork. They claimed to have told Mr Seaton to not go ahead with the mural, but he proceeded with the concept “regardless of our pleas for a reason”.
“Peter had presented this piece to our team, who explained the insensitive nature of the image and that the message was inappropriate,” Art4Ukraine said in an Instagram post.
“We rejected his offer to create it as part of the project, yet he has progressed with the artwork himself regardless of our pleas for a reason. This image is causing deep offence and hurt to people who are already suffering enough.”
The artist, however, said “de-escalation and peace need to be talked about more, rather than escalation and more conflict and more people dying on both sides”.
“I think if we’re not challenged in our ideals, then we’ll never grow as a species,” he added.
Mr Seaton has continued to sell video NFTs [non-fungible tokens] of the mural, the proceeds from the sale of which will go to nonprofit World Beyond War, which bills itself as “a global nonviolent movement to end war”.
In a video posted on social media, the artist said: “I want to say I apologise heavily to the Ukrainian people if I’ve offended them with this work, and obviously I have, and it’s not my intention, you know, my intention was to promote peace.”
Liana Slipetsky, a Ukrainian community leader in Australia, told local media that Melbourne’s Ukrainian community felt simply removing the mural was not enough. “It’s not really a win because he was going to paint over it after he’d collected all these donations anyway.”
She told SMH: “What I’d like to see now is a recognition from the artist that he’s been educated. To go out and consult the Ukrainian community and then go against their wishes screams ignorance to me, and also just a lack of empathy. It sounds like he just wanted some elevation to his own profile.”
Source by www.independent.co.uk