“Humanization”: Framing Ukrainian artist Aleksei Bordusov

I’ve been wanting to post about this job we framed many months ago. Finally pulling it out of the archives I remembered the enigmatic image as well as its intriguing title: “Humanization.” But I’d forgotten who the artist was. Looking it up today, his identity gave this picture’s title a whole new meaning: “Humanization” stands in opposition to the dehumanization that is war—what the artist, Aleksei Bordusov (a.k.a. Aec Interesni Kaski) is presumably witnessing right now in his city of Kyev, Ukraine.

framed Aleksei Bordusov print

frame detailframe detailThe picture portrays humanization as not only evolutionary. For this muralist with a degree in architecture, humanization evidently has much to do with the art of building and the many arts it shelters. Such making, after all, makes us human—humanizes us. Conversely, acts of war and destruction are our unmaking, our dehumanization.

But the picture is nonetheless as enigmatic as a dream—and perhaps that’s the nature of our imperfect and elusive understanding of our own humanity.

The architecture of the frame is drawn from the architecture depicted in the 26″ x 36″ print.  Playing off the vaulted ceiling that frames the fantastic scene, we created a 2″ wide Honduran mahogany cove frame with a chamfered and parcel gilt sight edge. I made a steel punch in the shape of the gilded stars on the ceiling and used it to decorate the mahogany. We finished the wood with clear oil followed by a dark wax to accentuate the punched stars.framed Aleksei Bordusov print

Aleksei Bordusov and St George

Mural by Alexei BordusovAfter earning a degree in architecture, Aleksei Bordusov’s artistic career began in earnest in the early ’90’s when, according to his website, “he started painting on the streets of Kyev as part of a graffiti crew.” He eventually became a muralist and now has murals all over the world (including several in the US).

At right is one in Kyev. It’s called “St George.” John Ruskin, in founding his utopian project, the Guild of St George, identified the dragon St George is traditionally shown slaying as “the Lord of Decomposition”—the antithesis of the human creative spirit that joins the world. Note that in Bordusov’s version of the story, the dragon is a pair of land-grabbing hands. A webpage by a Kyev tour guide surveying the city’s murals notes that the artist has explained that “the warrior symbolizes Ukrainian people, and the serpent—all the sorrows and obstacles which the country stands opposite.”

One wonders, what will be the fate of this mural? We may hope that, even if Putin’s forces destroy it, the massive, architectural place and presence it has enjoyed has earned the image a permanence in the minds of many Ukrainians—an image of the human spirit conquering the dehumanizing, destructive beast.

But it is the lives and well-being of Mr. Bordusov and the Ukrainian people that we are most concerned for. May the war be brief, few lives lost, and the elusive dream of humanization somehow triumph.

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