French street artist Big Ben's "L'ogre" (2022) in Lyon, France (courtesy the artist)

Across the world, street artists are painting murals to express support for Ukraine and disapproval of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country.

In Norway’s city of Stavanger, street artist Nimi painted a mural featuring a striking image: a white peace dove with an olive branch in its beak pooping on Putin’s head.

The work was created for a curatorial project by Nuart, an initiative based out of Stavanger that focuses on public art. Another work in the project by the artist Vlek features matryoshka dolls with the face of Putin shrinking smaller and smaller until they become a grenade.

“The ‘public’ wall is one of the last few spaces we have left for distributing unmediated content from critical voices,” Nuart’s founder and director Martyn Reed told Hyperallergic. “It’s a hugely important platform, especially in times of crisis and war. For me, it’s the very essence of this thing we call ‘street art’.”

The symbol of the white dove is proving popular. In a mural by artist Big Ben in Lyon, France, Putin holds the dead bird in his hands after biting off its head.

Artist Corie Mattie used the same symbol in a recent mural in Los Angeles. In her painting, Putin’s disembodied head is carried away by a flock of doves.

Other street artists have tackled the Ukrainian resistance rather than targeting Putin head-on. On a Paris wall, French artist Seth painted a Ukrainian girl stepping on tanks. “For my Ukrainian friends,” he writes in an Instagram post of the painting.

In a London mural, artist Woskerski painted a portrait of a Ukrainian woman — wearing a hat with the colors of the Ukrainian flag — with explosions in her background.

Other artists have generally urged for peace and love in Ukraine. In Cologne, Germany, artist Justus Becker added an olive branch with the colors of the Ukrainian flag onto an existing mural of a dove.

Mexican artist Jorge Tellaeche‘s mural in Mexico City calls for “Peace and brotherhood with Ukraine.” Other artists in the city have formed a group to paint public murals in support of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, fighting continues in Ukraine. According to a United Nations report published today, March 28, more than 1,150 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since Russia attacked Kyiv on February 24. Over 1,800 civilians have been injured and the number of refugees fleeing the country is coming close to 4 million.

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Elaine Velie

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.