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Visual journalism: St. Petersburg painter presents mathematical quizzes about the city


In how many days could the city administration buy several elephants for the Zoo if all deputies of the Legislative Council start taking public transport? Young design artist Kirill Shikhanov knows an answer to this question. He doesn’t want to deprive legislators of their cars, he just creates “karapuli”. And there’s enough of them for a book, which the man is looking to publish. Tatyana Bazhenova met the painter and found answers to many questions.


Kirill Shikhanov, painter: If a man walks down the Bolshoi Avenue, how many pages of “Evgeniy Onegin” he’d be able to read on the go? It takes one around 15 seconds to read one page.

An answer to this twisted question is quite easy to find – having stopped at 6 traffic lights of the Vasilievskiy Island, one would be able to read 12 pages of Pushkin’s book. These funny quizzes were created and posted online by design artist Kirill Shikhanov. The traffic lights at the island is an improvisation, hasn’t yet hit the pages. But other, more difficult questions have already been visualized.

Kirill Shikhanov, painter: “How many seconds it would take for a MIG-21 to reach Devyatkino? I wanted to share an opinion that the city is developing, while communication between suburbs and the city center is not developing as rapidly”.

The painter’s illustrations are not necessarily made to represent the problems of the day, but sometimes it happens so that they do. One can smile if learns how much potatoes could be planted into the soil of the entire Petrogradskiy Island. The answer is, by the way – more than 2,5 tons. One can also be disappointed to know how few water taxis there are in St. Petersburg. Kirill estimated that in order to equalize water and ground transportation, there have to be at least 5 thousand ships on the rivers. 

Kirill Shikhanov, painter: “Its not bad to mention a problem another time. You laugh at it, and it goes away. But it leaves you thinking. Ideally, I would want people to think about it. It would be wonderful. I would be glad to do something for others, not only for myself”

“Karapuli” – this is how the master described his works – are created in a few minutes. Right in front of us, Kirill easily creates the logo of the “Sankt Peterburg” TV channel – in 20 seconds. Randomly, with no preparation. It takes a lot more work for his quizzes. You have to invent, estimate and draw. But its not a problem too. However, he calls himself an amateur in art

Kirill Shikhanov, painter: “I was born here. I don’t know whether I’m a professional resident of St. Petersburg. If I go back to my youth, I graduated from physics-mathematics school number 30, so I’m a little of a mathematician. But not professional painter, I have no such education. It’s just a hobby, which brings me a paycheck

For now, the style belongs solely to St. Petersburg. The painter says that it would be possible to go beyond the boundaries of just one big city. But – in the foreseeable future – he’d stick with urban topics. And those will not be just quizzes, but visual journalism. The painter has prepared a whole set of illustrations for one of autumn’s biggest events. Having learnt all electoral promises, Kirill promises to create an image of an ideal city head.