Aaron Li-Hill about Art and Kiev

Aaron Li-Hill about Art and Kiev

Photo by Roman OrelRecently famous American artist Aaron Li-Hill visited the capital of Ukraine and created a very special mural at the Polytechnic University as a part of Mural Social Club Festival. ‘Destinations’ has a chance to meet the artist for an exclusive interview.

Aaron, can you please tell us how you got into the fine art? What was the start of you as an artist?
I always drew as a child and I just never stopped. I wanted to be a comic book artist when I was very young and that drive kept me drawing and painting until about 14 when I first picked up a spray can. At the time I was drawing less and skateboarding more but through skateboarding I got into graffiti. Graffiti was a very exhilarating door to open and it sparked a whole new passion for art within me. After about 3 years of doing graffiti I eventually started painting letters less and doing fine art more. Eventually, near the end of high school I decided I wanted to be a full time artist. I went to one year of art school at a University and then travelled for 1 year in Europe, teaching myself how to draw and paint properly from the masters in museums. This year of travel was when I really got into fine art and started to pursue it as my top priority.
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Photo by Anna Vishtak
What does the mural art mean for you personally?

It means creating work that belongs to a place, not a person. It becomes a capsule of time and the marks that I made in a given moment of my life. That I find very exciting and exhilarating about making work in the public realm. It becomes available for everyone and anyone can engage with it at any moment of a day. It lives and decays and eventually disappears like I eventually will too, which is a nice thought to me, that my artwork has its own life independent of me and becomes something totally different to different people.
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Photo by Anna Vishtak
How do you think, is there any gene of good taste in our human bodies and can we develop it?
Gene of good taste? That is an interesting idea. I think taste is something that we are taught, that we learn and develop. I think everyone has their own but we are taught broad parameters of what “good taste” is from the society around us. I think that being open to many things and willing to be exposed to different tastes than your own is how you can develop as human beings.
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Photo by Anna Vishtak
I think your works are very alive and full of motion. It seems that if you touch them – you can get into some other reality. Sometimes they look like photos of ghosts. They are really fascinating. What is the most important for you when you paint a new mural?
Thank you! That is very flattering to hear.
For me the most important thing is that it is good. That I have put something out there that for me is not embarrassing. After that, that it was a fun journey. Each mural is like an adventure, full of choices. Do I use this method, do I use this technique, do I explore this idea, does this idea relate to what I want to express and the overall technique, does that matter to me? Each choice is a path to something, sometimes better, sometimes worse but it ends up being something of a journey and in any adventure; all these moments lead to the destination, the most important moments where true growth and self discovery happen. Being open and conscious of those moments is very important for me. And then just having fun while I am doing it is something that keeps me alive.

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Photo by Maksim Belousov
Do you usually imagine your murals and installations with some particular music as a background?
I don’t make music but I have a very strong love for music and it greatly influences my work. In most situations I have to have music playing to create my best work and I have cultivated a few playlists over the years that have my favorite songs that inspire me while I work. These playlists, and usually a song or two from the list, would be the backdrop to whatever piece I am creating. That song would change all the time based on the artwork I am creating.
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Photo by Anna Vishtak
Is it your first visit to Kiev? What do you think about our city? What impresses you most? What do you think about Ukrainians?
Yes, this was my first visit to Kiev. I really loved it. It was such a beautiful place with very rich history and a very cool vibe. Everyone was very warm and nice to me and I met some of the most generous people in Kiev.
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Photo by Anna Vishtak
Have you visited any galleries or art objects in Kiev already?
I did not visit very many things while in Kiev, just a couple galleries and some bars. I was working very long hours everyday to complete this piece, so I will have to come back and really experience the city.
Tell us please about your work at the Polytechnic University.
The piece at the Polytechnic University is called, ‘The Impact Of Discovery’ and speaks to two influential discoveries within the last two centuries.
Painted on this multi-surfaced building is an explosion created from the Boson Higgs experiments, where two Hydrogen protons collide together at the speed of light. These experiments shed light on the nature of our universe and the particles which tie it together. Overlaid on top is a manipulated image mixed from my own process and a photograph by Etienne-Jules Marey made at the turn of the 20 century. Marey, a scientist and a contemporary of Edward Muybridge, was the first person to put multiple images into one plate making the first multiple exposed images. Marey along with Muybridge, were the godfathers of film and sowed the seeds that have given birth to the powerful cinematic industry—exporting Western culture globally—that we see today.
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Photo by Anna Vishtak
The image of the man running, mirrored, becomes a symbol of hydrogen protons hurtled toward each other and of the impact that these discoveries have on the world around us and the world within us.
This piece also has a subterranean meaning that is influenced by the current situation in Ukraine. These conflicts breed discoveries that, through struggle, enable culture, identity and community to be forged.
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Photo by Maksim Belousov
Do you have any crazy creative dream that you really want to implement in life some day?
All the time I think of interesting crazy creative dreams but most of them are just not good, or they are impossible, either way, if they are worth trying then I should be careful not to give them away ;).
What would you say to foreigners who want to visit Ukraine?
I would say GO visit! Kiev city is amazing and extremely affordable and the feeling there is very cool. Something like that won’t last long, so see it while you can.
Editor: As for me I think the work of Aaron is really awesome and I hope that this festival will be a good every year tradition to invite talented artists into our country! 
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak

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