Interesni Kazki (IK) is Aleksei Bordusov and Vladimir Manzhos, a duo from the Ukraine who also go by their respective aliases AEC and WAONE. They began working together in 1999. They were the precursors of the graffiti movement in the East European countries and since then, these guys have created many murals in the Ukraine and Russia and in countries all over the world, in their distinctive narrative and symbolist style.
Aleksei and Vladimir are inspired by themes such as science, religion, cosmology and social subjects, though they usually make work with free meanings that everyone can interpret on their own.
Special thanks to Oleg Sosnov for putting me in touch with AEC (Aleksei Bordusov):
Could you tell us a little about yourself, where you guys are from, how did you guys meet, and how did you get started in the urban art scene?
We started from classic graffiti writing. We live in Kiev, Ukraine.
Being an artist is not always easy, where there is little support, if any, from family and friends. How was it for you starting up?
Sure, I have support from my wife and other family members. In the beginning, it was difficult to do what nobody understood, even family. But it’s very important to not give up and move forward with your dream.
How did you come up with the name? Does it mean anything?
Interesni Kazki means Interesting fairy tales or stories. It came from two reasons: it reflects very well on our works, and from the beginning , when we did classic graffiti we had a big crew under the name, Ingenious kids. Then we decide to separate both but not because we broke up with our friends in the crew, but because we wanted to create stories without graffiti lettering that is not connected with hip hop. We wanted to keep the first letters in the name – I & K in our new name. This is how it came out.
Could you describe the development process of your artwork?
I guess development process continue so far, it has to be endless for the artist. Developing process contains in itself some percentage of inspiration and most part of hard work.
How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
Doing art, murals,canvases, and drawings, takes up almost all my time and sure influences a lot. Some artists from the past centuries and few modern inspire us for sure.
Has your style developed throughout the years?
I don’t really thinking about style developing, it applies more to graffiti…I think, it’s content and meaning first. And it’s like a skeleton. Only after, the style appears.
What are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
The internet can be a powerful tool for artists, because it’s a quick stream of information. It is also a tool to get fame for own art but at the same time it’s dangerous, because it gives an addiction of information and fame that is able to destroy an artist and his creativity.
Which countries have you visited to paint so far and where did you like it best?
We have been working in Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Portugal, Croatia, Slovakia, Cyprus, India, South Africa, USA, Mexico…Each country has some nice memories, but for most beautiful place because of nature I am reminded of South Africa and Azores Islands in Portugal.
Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
We worked several times in United States in different projects: Wynwood Walls in Miami in 2011, Solo show in Los Angeles in 2011, Open Walls festival in Baltimore in 2012, Street art festival Living Walls in Atlanta, worked with Library Street art collective for Garage project in 2013 and in Wynwood Walls in 2013 again.
Is there a message in your art?
Every work have a message. Sometimes it’s clear and open, and other times it covered or have several meanings and messages. Sometimes I find another new meaning or message in our own work later on.
The last 2 murals you did separately in Kiev were very politically charged. Is the political situation in Ukraine affecting your artistic life? What kind of change would you want to see happen?
By creating the “Ukrainian St.George” mural, I wanted to emphasize on historical moments of struggles of the Ukrainian people for freedom and independence.
In the center of the piece – the Ukrainian Cossack warrior with a falcon head, hacking the snake. I deliberately used two images – first one is the ancient, pre-Christian Slavic symbol – the falcon, a symbol of the sun and the victory of light over darkness, and the second one is a Christian – St. George or ukr. Saints Yurіy, to create a universal image of the people, fighting against evil, that is serpent, which represents a trouble that came to Ukraine. In the story of the mural, double hand head snake attacks the land on which stands a warrior from the east and west, by the movement of the sun, trying to tear it apart.
Some specific political images I have not used in this work, but the story,- the allegorical image of the events that are happening now in Ukraine. Our country is in the center of geopolitical confrontation.
It is trying to divide and tear apart by the two civilizations – East as Russia and Western countries in the form of the NATO bloc.
And for Ukraine, these two civilizations, in essence, are one snake-monster…
A lot of people in Ukraine started to believe that NATO will save Ukraine from the war with Russia but in fact NATO doesn’t help Ukraine but uses the conflict in Ukraine like pressure to isolate Russia and removing it from market of oil and gas. Russia, in turn, wants to subjugate the Ukraine, set their own laws and the power to destroy our national culture, how it was done by it the last centuries.
So my goal of creating this mural was to show our citizens my view to what is happening now, to understand that only association inside the country can preserve it from external threats…
What have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
Creating the mural “Ukrainian St.George” was most difficult, for two reasons: first, it was totally my own project, and not for some festival. All was organized by me and my friends who support me. All main costs and expenses of this mural also were by me with some help from friends and relatives. A lot of preparations went, Including renting lifts, fixing and plastering all walls before starting to paint. We faced another problem with the people who were against creating the mural to the simple fact that this wall was a beer advertisement mural and many people liked it very much. So there was a big fuss when I painted over this advertisement. It was very hindering and distracting me from working.
What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
We have some mural projects for next year and a solo show in London.
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
To never give up on reaching your dream.
That about sums up the questions. I wish you good luck AEC and I thank you for taking the time to talk to us at SAUS.