London-born and Cape Town based painter Jake Aikman has become an overnight sensation in the street art world after painting this stunning seascape, his first mural ever, created for the ongoing mural art project ArtUnitedUs in Kiev, Ukraine.

Jake Aikman’s works are characterised by the mystery and ambiguity of an isolated moment, intriguing seascapes that seems to suggest something hidden in the deep of the ocean.

“Human vulnerability and awe in relation to the sea has interested me long before I picked up a brush to paint it. In my opinion the sea reminds us that we are not in control of the forces of nature, and linked to that reminder are the trials and tribulations of the individual’s (viewer) life. My goal is to get under the skin or behind the veil of the purely visual experience of the image. Ultimately my wish is for the viewer to engage with what lies beneath the surface within themselves.”

In this, his first mural, Jake hopes to achieve some of this to some extent. As he explained to us and ArtUnitedus, he didn’t know 
much about Kyiv and the Ukraine before landing there, but he knew he wanted to bring some of the same drama of the sea to the city.
The new mural represents Jake’s largest painting to date, a painting he approached in the same way as his studio based paintings. The different stages of his work capture his layering technique and the materialisation of the turbulent spirit of the Black Sea.

The mural took nine days to complete, but the experience is something Jake remembers very well because, for the first time in his entire career, his work was subject to public scrutiny:

“The early stages of a work are rarely aesthetically pleasing, and for the first time in my career I was subjected to public scrutiny of what has always been a very private experience. It was thrilling to watch and engage with people’s reactions as the painting developed from rough sketch to an illusory, yet still painterly seascape.”

What can we say, the people of Kiev just loves this mural, quickly becoming one of the most shared murals in Kiev ever. And you know what? So do we.

All images by ArtUnitedUs co-curator Iryna Kanishcheva.

About the artist

Jake Aikman was born in London in 1978 and currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. He obtained his Masters of Fine Arts (specialising in painting) in 2008 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005. Aikman had his first solo exhibition This Must Be The Place in 2006. Since then, he has presented five solo exhibitions including Echoes (2009), Proximity (2011), At the Quiet Limit (2013) and Haunt (2017) at SMAC Gallery. His solo exhibition Confini Velati/Veiled Boundaries was presented in 2014 in Rome following a residency in Trevignano Romano in Italy, which was facilitated by the Centro Luigi Di Sarro.

In 2009 Aikman exhibited in L’Anima Del Acqua: The Spirit of Water an exhibition presented as part of the 53rd Venice Biennale. He was also an invited artist for the 4th Beijing International Art Biennale and exhibited in Paralleli, an official exhibition to the 2nd Sabbionetta Biennale in 2010 and the Olympic Fine Arts exhibition Creative Cities Collection that was held at the Barbican Centre in London in 2012.


About the project

Art United Us is an international project that collaborates through artistic and creative mediums with communities to raise public awareness and attention to the problem of war, aggression and violence. The project started in Kiev, Ukraine in the beginning of the year, is planning to complete 200 walls during the next 2 years through out the world and without boundaries. Art United Us is curated by Geo Leros and Iryna Kanishcheva.


Author: Fran

Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.