Less than a week after it was announced that Vladik Monroe was found dead in Bali, the Russian art world also learned of the April 1 death of another of its cult heroes: the street artist known as Pasha 183. Only 29 at the time, Pasha was rumored to have hung himself, though so far these reports have not been confirmed. In any event, it is a true tragedy for the young scene.
Born and raised in Moscow, Pasha quickly cultivated a following through his talent for visual punning and skillful deployment of Soviet imagery, such as the much beloved Alenka, of chocolate bar wrapper fame. He emphasized the performative act to his process, often creating and circulating videos of the work being made, in direct defiance to laws against street art. Take for example this work, “Volume“:
Pasha 183 may have bristled at comparisons to Banksy – according to a BBC interview, he felt “strange to be compared to a rich celebrity artist living at the other end of Europe”- but this week the latter artist has responded with a work entitled Pasha 183 RIP, which depicts an eternal flame coming out of a can of spray paint.
Meanwhile, in the wake of public outpouring for the artist’s passing, Moscow Ministry of Culture head Sergey Kapkov announced that this summer, as part of the campaign “Best City in the World” (good luck with that…), over 150 of the city’s walls, fences and buildings – 100 of which are public housing complexes – would be given over to street artists, in an effort to encourage the development of street art. It’s a curious move, given that most of these artists work in secrecy specifically to protect their identity from prosecution, but let’s hope that Kapkov has only the best intentions for this project.