Kazakh Artists Brighten Buildings By Putting Up Murals With Social Messaging

ASTANA – The number of murals in Kazakhstan has increased significantly over the past five years: some of them convey a specific message, and others serve as colorful decorations of street buildings. However, they all attract pedestrians’ attention and make them stop and take in the bright graphic artwork. 

Image of Abai in Zhetikara town in the Kostanai Region. Photo credit: Tanayev’s Instagram

In an interview with Tengrinews, local artists Ali Zakir and Yerzhan Tanayev, who have been creating murals for many years across the country, spoke about the intricacies of their work and the difficulties that they face.

Where Kazakh citizens can see murals made by Zakir and Tanayev

The young artists create murals in different cities of the country, but most of their works can be found on the streets of Almaty.

Another city whose buildings have been beautified with Zakir and Tanayev’s murals is Astana.

“I like this mural because it is vibrant and bright. It gives energy and fits into the capital’s rhythm. This work is iconic because we did not make a poster, but we created,” said Zakir about a mural called Baige.

Baige mural in Astana. Photo credit: Tanayev’s Instagram

Aktau city, located in western Kazakhstan, is also adorned with the artists’ murals.

“We made portraits of politician Abish Kekilbayev and poets Fariza Ongarsynova and Esengali Raushanov as a part of Aktau akimat’s (city administration) project in 2021. These works are similar in terms of stylistics and located close to each other,” said Tanayev.

Mural depicting Esengali Raushanov in Aktau. Photo credit: Tanayev’s Instagram

Zakir said that these works are memorable and that they received a lot of feedback. “ I realized that I am doing something valuable at that time,” noted Zakir.

One of the most famous murals  – The Boy Who Paints the Sun

Located on a pedestrian boulevard at the intersection of Sauranbayev and Moldagaliyev Streets in Almaty, this mural has become widely known not only to city residents but also to the whole country. Artists drew an outline for one of the festivals back in 2017, but they realized the idea only three years later.

“It happens, some sketches need a special place where they can be realized,” said Zakir.

According to him, they created this mural in the winter of 2020.

“While we were drawing, the residents of this house and the opposite one made tea for us because it was cold. Their support inspired me to keep working on the mural on those cold days in 2020,” recalled Zakir.

The Boy Who Paints the Sun mural. Photo credit: Tanayev’s Instagram

Zakir added that the mural became extremely popular and many foreign street art communities posted it.

Can every artist paint a mural?  

“It is important to have patience, courage, and experience because there are some nuances: the scale of work, weather conditions and equipment. Some artists are afraid of heights. If you are sure you will overcome these challenges, you should try. There are now many artists who create murals in Kazakhstan. A lot of new names. Above all, artists should love what they do and constantly practice,” Tanayev said.

Zakir added that it is necessary to get used to working at heights and to develop a feel for scale.

To date, Zakir and Tanayev continue to create murals throughout the country and dream of someday working abroad.

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