Oversized spectacles with one arm made from a lamp-post – the rest drawn out in snow. If you like Banksy, the now rich and famous UK street artist and activist, you’ll love P183, the Russian graffiti and guerrilla artist. A member of no party, whose identity remains a mystery, P183 is emblematic of the country’s growing anti-Putin movement.
Céline Zünd reports for LE TEMPS/Worldcrunch: ”
MOSCOW – We meet P183 in Winzavod, an old winery in the heart of Moscow, converted into a maze of galleries and designer boutiques. We follow his light but quick footsteps into a studio, far from the bustle of the city’s trendy cafes. Visitors are asked to remove their shoes before entering the small room where chairs hang from the ceiling.
He introduces himself as Pavel, his real first name. That’s about as much as we’ll learn, together with the fact that he is a descendant of the famous Russian poet Sergei Yesenin. When a photographer points his camera at him, he puts on his black balaclava and starts serving tea. P183 wants to remain as anonymous as possible so that he can continue his flirtations with illegality. At night he walks along the streets of Moscow armed with cans of spray paint, covering the city’s walls with huge political and poetic frescoes.
He also produces guerilla art installations, which are the talk of the town: a girl hangs Christmas ornements on barbed wire, big black eyes scan passersby from behind a wall, surveillance cameras are adorned with machine guns.
In a graffiti inspired by a Soviet-era poster, a bomber hovers over a grandmother and a child holed up in a shelter. In the distance, the black buildings of the city look like thorns. That’s P183’s take on the March 4 presidential election that is sending Vladimir Putin back to the Kremlin for another term.
“Russia is in a permanent state of war between different factions trying to seize power,” he says. “There’s nothing ordinary people can do. Grandmothers, children, workers… They have no choice. ”
Pavel began drawing when he was 11, using pieces of charcoal to scribble poems on the walls of his neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Moscow. He’s 28 today, his work has been published in Russian underground magazines born from the counterculture, and foreign media like to call him “the Russian Banksy” a reference to the anonymous rebel British street artist and activist.
“I respect Banksy’s work, but I don’t draw inspiration from it,” P183 says, distanciating himself from the now rich and famous artist.”
Read on at Worldcrunch.
At The Guardian: the street art of P183 – in pictures
More at www.183art.ru
Photograph: P183/Rex Features
Prime Time Russia: ‘Russian Banksy’ talks streets as political platform
Prime Time’s Jacob Greaves tracked down the elusive P-183…
Паша 183, инсталляция “Правда на правду”
More P183 on Youtube.