The amazing street art that is enriching lives

Uber-talented street artist Heesco has made his mark on Melbourne’s laneways – and now he is using famed public murals to improve life for kids in Mongolia.

Born and raised in Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, renowned muralist and street artist Heesco Khosnaran was only 20 when he left his home country to forge a new life in Australia.

“In Mongolia I had just come out of the Communist system,” he says. “I wanted to become an artist but I really couldn’t see a future there.”

He took a plunge and settled in Sydney to study art.

It wasn’t long before his passion for creating huge artworks become clear, inspired in part by the huge Communist propaganda murals that had been prolific in his home country.

“I started painting a couple of big walls in Sydney, but Sydney was a different place for that sort of thing at that time,” Heesco recalls.

“It was only when I came to Melbourne in 2010 that I started getting into it and everything really took a turn.”

Watch the moment Heesco gave our House of Wellness TV team an amazing surprise in our October 6 episode

Heesco works on a a public mural

Finding artistic fame in Melbourne

Heesco’s unique style and bold aesthetics in Melbourne’s famed laneways soon gained him widespread recognition.

As word of his talent spread, so too did his body of work.

His paintings – iconic pieces that cross genres from fine art to street art, comics and illustrations – are now found in all kind of places across the country, with his subjects ranging from politicians and musicians to local retail celebrities.

Heesco's art outside Movida
One of Heesco’s pieces outside Movida restaurant in Melbourne.

His skill for producing super-sized portraits has been embraced in country areas on the famous regional “silo trail”.

Each piece has a message, makes a statement, brings a sense of pride and always captures the community spirit.

One in particular is a favourite. Commissioned by Victoria University in the western Melbourne suburb of Footscray, Miss Citizen of the World depicts a woman in traditional Mongolian dress. It won the street art category in the Footscray Art Prize.

Heesco's art at Victoria University
Heesco says this piece at Victoria University is one of his favourites.

“It’s a wall I drive past almost every day and was the first time I painted my own unique and original design, on a five story building,” Heesco says.

“That was important to me, it feels good to have found something I can be really proud of.”

Colouring the world for kids in Mongolia

Heesco is passionate about the positive effects art can have on both people and spaces.

“Public art in general has the potential to change environments and how people feel and when you paint it up, it kind of changes the whole area,” he says.

Heesco art work in Mongolia
Heesco’s art work is brightening kids’ lives in Mongolia.

It’s for this reason he volunteers his skills in his homeland of Mongolia as part of project Rainbow Cover.

“They hit me up and said, look we have this idea to paint murals on the water wells in the Ger districts of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, which is just like Mongolian slums,” he says.

“Ger districts have no running water, waste management or central heating and kids often fetch water from these wells on a daily basis, even when the temperature drops below -40C.”

“We figured we’d bring in some art, some colour and positive images and messages to the kids at the wells, which are meeting places and hang out spots for the entire neighbourhood.

“In a way we want to treat it like as therapy for them, they all love it. It was just good to see them excited.”

Street artist Heesco

Having been one of those children himself, it’s a project he’s passionate about and there are now plans to extend the project, to get the kids involved in coming up with designs.

“It doesn’t really require much effort to turn up and paint and this is our way of trying to implement small changes that will hopefully trigger bigger things,” he says.

No surprise at all that Heesco is painting his way into people’s hearts in both his home and adopted countries.

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Written by Liz McGrath.