Melbourne painter Peter Seaton a.k.a. CTO painted over his own mural with Russian and Ukrainian soldiers hugging each other after complaints from the city's Ukrainian community and Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko.
Seaton first published his mural on Instagram. “Love to the people of Ukraine. I hope we can find peace and end this needless bloodshed,” he wrote in the caption.
Art 4 Ukraine Australia said in a statement it had been in contact with Seaton before the mural was painted, but he had decided to proceed with the concept “regardless of our pleas for reason”.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko said the work was “utterly offensive to all Ukrainians” and had called for it to be removed. “The painter has no clue about the [Russian] invasion of Ukraine and it is disappointing to see it done without consulting the Ukrainian community in Melbourne,” he said on Twitter.
The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations’ Stefan Romaniw said in a statement that by accepting a false narrative that all the world needed was peace, the artwork actually “supports evil”.
“What would people think if a mural featured a rapist and a victim hugging? Wouldn’t that offend any decent person’s conviction that to ask a victim to excuse their rapist while the crime is still occurring, not been acknowledged, and not been atoned for, is wrong?”
Seaton said he did not wish to excuse Russian acts of aggression and was saddened to have hurt the Ukrainian community. He told The Age that he had no affiliations with the Russian community, and the mural was fundamentally a “message of peace” and a meditation on the futility of armed conflict. He then apologised and painted his mural over.