Meeting AEC, Interesni Kazki (Ukraine)
AEC (Interesni Kazki) is an Ukrainian street artist known for his striking visual imagery and whose surrealistic works is admired all over the world. His bright, intriguing murals—inspired by science, religion, mythology, cosmology, myths and times past—are filled with colour, and often accompanied by black and white drawings of his own. AEC’s highly detailed pieces appear like they come from a fairy tale populated by colourful imaginary creatures that often seem to be in motion. The comparison with fairy tale characters is not unintentional as his nickname Interesni Kazki literally means Interesting Fairytales.
Aec Interesni Kazki got basic knowledge and skills of drawing and painting during his studies in architecture at Art Academy. Upon graduation, he realised that he doesn’t want to pursue a career as an architect but wants to focus on art only. It was in the late 1990s that he started painting on the streets of Kiev as a part of big graffiti crew Ingenious Kids (IK). However, after several years of city bombing, painting public walls and trains, he got bored of letters.
In 2005, AEC teamed with one of IK members, Waone, in creating pieces composed of characters without letters. Inspired by murals from other parts of the world, and in particular, Brazil, the painters had formed Interesni Kazki duo, that became known for their unique style of contemporary muralism with graffiti roots. Merging science fiction, fantasy, and Ukrainian religion and culture, they created their own dreamlike universe inhabited by mysterious subjects. After more than a decade of fruitful collaboration and numerous street pieces made by Interesni Kazki, the duo split in May 2016 and both, AEC and Waone, followed their dreams as solo artists.
Over the years of artistic work, AEC has developed his own technical skills, and moved from stylisation to more realistic and anatomic images, focused on colours, their shades and forms. Although he experimented with different techniques, he realised that the traditional paint brush technique gives him more opportunities than others, so today he mainly works with rollers, brushes and acrylic paints. AEC also works with acrylics and brushes on canvases and uses ink liners to do drawings on paper. Some of them he colours with water-colours, being inspired by a technique of old book illustrations of past centuries.
Through his striking artworks, AEC shows an amazing artistic ability to transform abandoned or natural environments into allegorical and figurative artworks without using direct imaginary, so people can understand it free, in their own way, according to their own imagination. He considers a creation of art as “an opportunity to understand mystical reasons of The Universe” as well as to rediscover topics that range from science and history to religion and myths in his own way. AEC’s signature narrative-like style works can be found on walls throughout Europe, as well as beyond, in Australia, USA, Puerto Rico, India, Brazil, and more. He has participated in many street art festivals including Fame Festivalin Grottaglie, Italy, Boombarstick in Vodnjan, Croatia, Life Is Beautiful in Las Vegas, USA and WEAArt in Aalborg, Denmark, among others.
We were lucky to reach out to AEC and get some up-to-date information:
LM: You have obviously travelled a lot and participated in many different festivals and collections - do you have your favourites?
AEC: If I had to highlight my favourite projects, these 3 come up to mind immediately. The reason is that they were really well organised, they were organised by our friends, therefore atmosphere was very special, it felt really good to be there and paint.
Art for all in the world (2017, Sandefjord, Norway)
Projecto Panorama (2017, Cancun, Mexico)
El Ahulaga (2019, Fuerteventura, Spain)
LM: SAMA's founder is a big fan of your work, do you have a relationship with Amsterdam?
AEC: In Amsterdam I was only a few times. The first time was when founder of SAMA sponsored the participation in Amsterdam Street Art 2011 festival. Unfortunately, the festival did not have walls to paint and I spent most of the time just getting to know the city. Anna got me a bike and I loved cycling from Nieuw-West to the city Centre where the festival was taking place.
Then I was in Amsterdam in transit when we met with the founder of SAMA to do some sightseeing and sample amazing Dutch herring. I have not really painted in Amsterdam, even even though I have submitted a sketch for a mural that has unfortunately did not come to life in 2016. It would be great to come over more in the future, and definitely for a longer time and, of course, paint something, so that I could spend more time with the city. I really like Amsterdam, it has special feeling to it.
LM: What about Street Art in Kiev? Do you have projects in your own city / country?
AEC: Up to certain point there were not street art projects or festivals neither in Kiev, nor in Ukraine. However, some 4-5 years ago suddenly came a wave of popularity: many artists arrived, painted many murals, not only in Kiev. These can be attributed to the 2 main projects - one smaller and one with much larger ambitions. A couple of years ago, this wave has passed, and now nobody is painting anymore. May be this slow-down is a good thing, because the projects came suddenly and many artworks were created fast and sporadically, without any regards for sustainability. As for my own work, I am not painting in Ukraine since 2015. All of my projects are international. For me, Kiev is a studio time.
LM: COVID-19 messed up a lot of plans and impacted everyone. What is the first thing you want to do once it's over?
AEC: Once Corona restrictions are over, and I can leave Ukraine, I would love to travel somewhere, of course on an interesting assignment such as a mural or an exhibition. I miss travelling and am ready to go! Here is my latest canvas completed during the Quarantine - The Annunciation (2020).