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Near UN in Geneva, giant fresco advocates for world without weapons

By Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - On the square across from the United Nations in Geneva, Swiss-French artist SAYPE has used eco-friendly paint to create a giant fresco intended to draw attention to the plight of civilians in armed conflicts.

Working with the Handicap International charity, the 34-year-old painted a gigantic hand on a grass canvas using chalk and coal that, from above, can be seen repairing a huge wooden sculpture known as the Broken Chair.

The three-legged Broken Chair, a work by Swiss artist Daniel Berset erected on Place des Nations in 1997, was designed to raise awareness about the impact of landmines on civilians in conflict zones.

"The idea was to paint a hand that comes to fix the broken leg," SAYPE told Reuters as he stood near his fresco, which is called "All Of Us".

"In my mind, this hand represents the whole world and that we can all get involved and help Handicap International in its fight."

Handicap International was founded in 1982 to assist Cambodian refugees who had lost limbs and it co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) in 1992, which won the Nobel Peace Prize.

It assists vulnerable populations around the world, including civilians who have lost limbs due to armed conflict.

The issue of landmines even more topical due to the war in Ukraine, SAYPE said.

The number of people killed or wounded by cluster munitions has increased massively and the destruction in June of the Kakhovka dam and resulting flooding has most likely displaced many mines, creating more danger for civilians.

"For most of my projects, I try to use art to spread messages," SAYPE said. "I like to say that I impact society without impacting nature."

SAYPE is mostly known for his "Beyond Walls" series in which he spray painted giant hands clasping each other in cities including Berlin, Istanbul and Cape Town.

(Reporting by Denis Balibouse and Cécile Mantovani; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ed Osmond)