Russian artist and Ukrainian in Bali collaborate on message of unity

NORTH KUTA, Indonesia (Reuters) – A Russian artist and a Ukrainian owner of a villa complex on the Indonesian resort island of Bali have come together to promote peace and unity through a giant work of art.

The piece of calligraphy – spanning 960 sq m (10,333 sq ft) across the rooftops of nine buildings – spells out “United World” in six languages: Russian, Ukrainian, English, Chinese, French and Indonesian. “This work is not a political statement, it’s a cultural statement, it’s a social statement, about people and the way … we can unite together to create a future in harmony,” Russian calligraphy artist Pokras Lampas told Reuters. Lampas, who has been in Bali since December, said the idea was developed with a group of Ukrainian friends before the war started, but now the work has taken on even more meaning. The 30-year-old Lampas, who describes his style as “Calligrafuturism” and says it encompasses modern calligraphy and elements of street art, spent three weeks creating the work.

Alex Shtefan, the Ukrainian running the villa complex, said the art work matches his values and sent an important message.

“We can show in our villas to the world our idea that (the) world needs to be united,” said Shtefan, who has been living in Indonesia for six years. Both men said they were shocked by the war in Ukraine.

“If we can find a way to stop it and find a peaceful way to negotiate, we need to make it now,” Lampas said. Even though the two countries have their own cultures, “Russia and Ukraine always was like a brother, we are always … close, we always help each other and even we look similar,” said Shtefan, 35.

“We cannot believe that it’s happened,” Shtefan said, adding that he was worried for the safety of loved ones back home.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February in a military offensive it describes as a “special military operation”.

(Reporting by Sultan Anshori; Editing by Ed Davies and Tom Hogue)