Poznań street artist known as Kawu is making his mark with intelligence and humour
Not for the first time, the street artist known as Kawu has seen his work go viral and flashed across the world.
An ardent fan of Lech Poznań, Kawu found his name parroted across a variety of sports platforms after he painted Lech’s mascot, the goat Koziołek Matołek, standing by the pitch of arch-rivals Legia Warsaw.
Flashing an anti-Legia hand sign, the goat was painted in the Żyleta end of Legia’s stadium, the legendary gathering point for Legia’s most fervent supporters.
Infuriating Legia’s fans, Kawu’s action was nonetheless met with widespread smiles from practically all other quarters. This, though, has not been his only football-related work, with the artist previously painting Lech’s goat in stadiums found in Florence, Stockholm and Kaunas.
Two days ago, meanwhile, he was active once more after spraying a beer-drinking Koziołek Matołek at the home of Lech’s European opponents, Spartak Trnava.
In this most recent instance, Trnava’s ultras quickly responded by repainting the goat in the colours of their own team.
However, whilst this latest round of paintings has propelled Kawu’s name onto the lips of Europe’s football fans, many street art followers will already be familiar with his oeuvre.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, it was arguably Kawu that came up with the most iconic of all artistic reactions.
Depicting Vladimir Putin as the sinister Lord Voldemort and Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Harry Potter, Kawu’s mural on Poznań’s Hetmańska street quickly gained worldwide fame – in fact, President Zelenskyy himself has since commented on his similarities to the planet’s favourite wizard.
Although disappearing soon after – with the artist’s consent – these murals captured the zeitgeist in a way no other work managed to do. In the process, they also catapulted Kawu’s burgeoning reputation to an entirely new level.
First emerging on Poznań’s street art circuit a few years ago, Kawu’s output has rapidly won him an army of followers.
Now boasting nearly 50,000 fans on Instagram alone, his portfolio has been applauded for both its humour and intelligence.
Often utilising the surrounding environment, Kawu’s work has sought to directly interact with nearby physical elements whilst visually transforming otherwise dull corners of the city.
For example, one mural depicts Bart Simpson skateboarding down a handrail running down an otherwise gloomy stairwell.
Another sees a bland paczkomat reinvented courtesy of Tom and Jerry. In it, the gleeful cat looks to seize a startled Jerry sitting inside a parcel.
Even Poland’s litter problem has been highlighted with Kawu previously painting Inspector Gadget picking up a discarded can with his extendable, mechanical arm.
Often using cartoon figures, superheroes and other animated legends, the results are often highly amusing – in sight of McDonald’s, we can see a greedy Scooby Doo reverentially raising a burger above his head.
There is Spiderman weaving his way into a storefront; characters from Lilo & Stitch cavorting in a pile of leaves that have amassed on the ground; and a boyish Tarzan swinging from a wall overgrown with ivy.
Lacking the brooding darkness of many of the world’s street artists, Kawu’s work is defined by its jolly sense of innocence: in Kawu’s world, Yoda wields a light sabre as if to zap bikes parked up on a cycle rack; characters from What’s With Andy ambush each other from rooftops with buckets of water; while Krecik the mole sleds down piles of snow.
In an era of esoteric, over-thought street art, Kawu offers a cheerful alternative whose cheeky sense of fun engages all who view it.