Artists have painted bright sunflowers on piles of burnt-out cars destroyed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, upsetting some locals who wonder if it is too soon to beautify the remains of war.
The group of Ukrainian-American painters says it plans to sell digital images of the works as non-expendable tokens (NFTs) and raise funds for Ukrainian artists, reconstruction projects and other causes.
The cars were mostly recovered in the town of Irpin, outside the capital, from a bridge destroyed by Ukrainian forces to stop advancing Russian tanks, said Trek Kelly, a Los Angeles muralist who helped start the project.
City authorities had approved the work and assured the artists that no one had died in the vehicles, he added.
A couple who owned one of the vehicles had thanked them “for repurposing these cars into something more beautiful,” Kelly told Reuters.
Others weren’t so sure as they walked through construction this week on the main road leading to Irpin, where authorities say between 200 and 300 civilians were killed in Russian attacks before Ukrainian forces recaptured the town in late of March.
Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“I understand the idea that flowers show hope for the future, and that Ukraine cannot be destroyed despite what the Russians tried to do here, but maybe it’s too soon,” said Casimir Kiendl, originally from Wales but living in Ukraine when the war started.
“Memories are still very fresh,” said Yuliya Zaliubovska, a kyiv resident who fled to France during the war and stopped to watch during a visit to Ukraine on Wednesday.
Kelly and Olena Yanko – a Ukrainian artist involved in the project – said they respect the concerns but hoped the site would become a place of reflection.