Ukraine’s historic capital city of Kiev has just become the proud owner of an extraordinary South African mural, painstakingly painted by a solo artist to realistically depict the ocean.

The three-storey, nine-metres high, 13-metres wide mural was created by Cape-Town based painter Jake Aikman, whose recent show at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg was a highlight of the year’s art calendar.

The mural is the first time Aikman’s work has found itself outside of a gallery and into a public space.

“It was very strange working outside. I work very privately, I don’t share my stuidio with anyone, so no one gets to see my developmental stages. Being watched was very peculiar, but I really just put my head down because I had a lot to do,” Aikman told Huffpost SA.

Normally Aikman’s paintings, most of which depict the ocean in intricate detail, and at their widest are two metres on canvas, can take months to complete. “At that scale you can get away with a lot of things that you wouldn’t get away with on the scale of a painting on a canvas. But I think this will reach more people, and having that interaction was quite special for me.”

At first, Aikman says, Ukrainians weren’t all that excited about the enormous new painting in their city. “People initially started shouting at me when they saw the first high-contrast sketch I did on the wall. Someone translated for me and I found out that they were saying it was too dark, one woman even brought me a rose because she wanted something more pretty,” Aikman explains, laughing. read more