I never took the easy way out. Easy way outs were always boring for me. I stopped painting graffiti because it was too easy. Then I stopped working with spray paints and switched to acrylic and brush because spray was too easy. I started to paint black and white murals with thousands of line and strokes. I was always searching for the most complex compositions with fractal levels of detail, inspired by the old masters. I created a surreal and multi symbolic universe inspired by science, nature, magic and spiritual practices (once I even took a holy order). From simple to complex is the goal of my art and my life style. ‘Your art is too smart’, I once heard from one brand, refusing collaboration. So, my dream is to make high art acceptable to everyone!
This is how the Ukrainian artist Vladimir Manzhos, aka Waone, introduces himself. Waone was born in 1981 in Ukraine, where he lives and works in Kiev. His passion for symbolic art derives from his family, and in particular from his father’s collection of local art and orthodox icons, whose millennial symbolism and clear and decisive traits have particularly influenced his artistic development.
In 1999 he starts painting graffiti and from 2005 to 2016 he created the duo of muralists Interesni Kazki (“Interesting Fables”), to then continue his activity alone. As Waone states, “… I can say that in our pieces we use mystical, religious, mythological, historical subjects. I like symbolism in general and I like to create my symbols”.
And it is precisely the use of symbols that brings him to develop his own personal language, whose particularly elegant linear style alternates black and white strokes with crisp and clean colors, asserting his unmistakable style.
Over the years, the artist has continued to enrich his narrative with mystical and esoteric implications. With compositions similar to those of the classical masters, but also with strokes that suggest the great protagonists of the French and Belgian comics, Waone presents images that are apparently still, but that instead reflect constant motion, where a flow of men emerges from spiraling cubes into spirals of endless existence, under the attentive eyes of a spectator enclosed in an ouroboros, which symbolizes the energy that devours and regenerates itself in an eternal and infinite time.
And again, works that reference classical and Dionysian tales in which mythological creatures flow in the midst of esoteric symbols; or, plastic figures that play with the Sun and the Moon, while music streams out of the heart chakra; gnostic abraxas under which the eternal fire burns that hold in their hands symbols of the passage of time, and over which the moon is lit in all its phases; or invisible Maghreb masters whose music makes a Sufi dervish dance on a sacred book, while at their feet a snake follows its vibrations.
In this overwhelming wealth of symbols, though never pedantic or complacent, the artist seems to call our attention to hidden truths, visible only from our third eye of intuition, and to the passing of time that annuls itself in the vortex of infinity. And here is the enchantment of this work that calls us and pushes us further, making us ask questions that each of us latently has on the truth of appearances or their illusion.
In recent years Waone has created murals all over the world and has held solo and group exhibitions in several European and American galleries: Jonathan LeVine Gallery (NY), Midcity-Arts Gallery (LA), Antonio Colombo (Milan), Allouche Soho Art Gallery (NY), Avantgarden Gallery (Milan).