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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 May, 2003, 22:05 GMT 23:05 UK
Money talks for Ukrainian artist
Painted Ukrainian hryvnya note
Bondarenko says Ukrainian hryvnyas are good for just about anything
While Ukraine's nouveaux riches are rolling in money, some of their poorer compatriots have come up with a more ingenious use for their scant cash - they paint on it.

Kyrylo Bondarenko - a 21-year-old artist from the southern Ukrainian seaport of Odesa - has showcased 44 paintings made in watercolour on banknotes.

The euro is new money, very modern, very stylish
Kyrylo Bondarenko
Believing that money is the root of all evil, the man has decided to transform banknotes into works of art.

"To me, money stands for the blood of mankind. It tempts people into doing bad things," Mr Bondarenko told Ukraine's private One Plus One television.

Hryvnyas, dollars and euros

He said the aim of his first personal exhibition was to try and "save the world from a grave threat - money".

Painted Ukrainian hryvnya note
The artist's works are diverse - from portraits to phantasmagorical collages

Mr Bondarenko's artistic name is Bond 007 because he represents the seventh generation in his family, the television said.

His outlook is just as global.

Although he paints most of his pictures on Ukraine's national currency, the hryvnya, he does not pass up dollars and euros.

The artist thinks that the dollar is best suited to the painting job, especially to night landscapes, while euro notes are perfect for avant-garde.

"The euro is new money, very modern, very stylish," Mr Bondarenko says.

Tough choices

He adds that hryvnyas are good for just about anything, and they inspire him to paint landscapes and pictures on historical and political themes.

Mr Bondarenko's works are very diverse, ranging from portraits to phantasmagorical collages.

They all, however, have a common trait: if you look hard enough, you will be able to discern a fragment of the original, far less colourful, adornment, like a US president's face or a signature by a Ukrainian chief banker.

However, as Bond 007 is a penniless student, eking out a living without a scholarship, he can rarely afford to create his works of art on anything more expensive than a 20-hryvnya note ($4).

Every time Mr Bondarenko conceives a new painting, he faces the tough choice between a chance to express himself and an urge to buy a beer.

Indeed, art entails sacrifice, the television said.

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