Guido van Helten recently painted a mural on the very front line of eastern Ukraine, where fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian troops still takes place on daily basis. Invited by the ArtUnitedUs project from Kiev, he spent 2 days on a cherry picker, working on a portrait of a local teacher Marina Marchenko.

Photos by Amos Chapple

With this work the artist wanted to give the locals something that will take their thoughts away from the rough reality, if only for few seconds. Struggling with the idea of such project being more popular for its daredevil aspect rather than actual purpose, Van Helten eventually accepted the idea conceived ArtUnitedUs. Always aiming to create work that has local identity, he decided to paint a portrait of a local school teacher who he photographed few days earlier. Wearing a flak jacket and ballistic helmet and working on a facade with visible bullet and shrapnel holes, Australian artist stayed away from giving any commentary or taking sides in a conflict that is still going on 2 and half years since it started. Instead, he focused on creating a piece of art that will hopefully bring more attention to the area and maybe have some influence in resolving the complex situation.