February 24 marks one year since Russia first invaded Ukraine. To acknowledge this date, a stamp featuring a Banksy mural was released by Ukrposhta, Ukraine’s national post.
The mural was painted in Borodyanka, a town near the capital city of Kyiv. It is one of the first towns that was invaded by Russian troops. However, Ukraine reclaimed it in April of 2022.
Banksy, Artist for the People
Banksy, known for his perpetually hidden identity and anonymous artworks, travelled to Ukraine in the autumn of 2022. He created eight murals around the shell-shocked towns of Ukraine.
Using building remains as canvases, Banksy painted depictions of Ukrainians doing daily tasks, such as bathing or playing on a seesaw. In the face of war and tragedy, the murals represent the enduring spirit and resilience of Ukrainians. A sense of hope that one day life may return to normal.
Some of his murals were more politically poignant, such as the one Ukrposhta released as a stamp. The mural shows a young boy flipping over an older man in a game of Judo. Banksy may be alluding to the fact that Putin was a Judo practitioner and a lover of martial arts.
Small But Mighty
The national post sees Banksy’s work as a symbol of the ongoing struggle between Russia and Ukraine. Ihor Smelyanskyi, Director General of Ukrposhta, believes the stamp highlights the unequal relationship between the two countries. The image conveys that despite Russia having more territory and larger forces in comparison to Ukraine, the state with the most motivation and courage will ultimately prevail. This is most clear in Banksy’s mural – where a young boy defeats the bigger man.
Stamps have become important symbols of solidarity and patriotism in Ukraine over the past year. Similar to wartime posters, they reflect the sentiments of the people of Ukraine in an engaging and creative manner.
Stamps also have a global connotation to them. There is always a chance for them to travel across borders and seas to reach others. In this sense, many will see the stamp along its journey – delivery people, and post office workers. It leaves them with an image of Ukraine as a strong and united front.
Art is a form of soft power like no other. It captures peoples’ hearts and encourages people to think, to reflect on the issues that permeate the world. This new Banksy stamp is no exception.
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