Artful Debate

Eben Kling

Eben Kling, Need New Glasses

Where words fail, visual art can speak volumes. Art about politics elicits emotions and reactions, and delivers a compelling response to the current state of political and social affairs. When done well, political art can provide a strong form of discourse and the artist provides a resonating voice in the debate.

John Dobbs, Media Image

John Dobbs, Media Image

Anticipating the 2016 election, artists are already responding to the messages and issues that the candidates have expressed. In a crowded and contentious race for the Republican nomination, Need New Glasses (2015) by Eben Kling draws together the absurdity, paranoia, and multiple personalities of the contemporary GOP (Grand Old Party). Kling’s painting evokes Media Image (1968) by John Dobbs, which features fast and furious talking heads that are evident of the multiple depictions, betrayals, and contradictions of those who seek power.

Hanksy's Twitter feed post of his Donald Trump mural on Canal Street, NYC.

Hanksy’s Twitter feed post of his Donald Trump mural on Canal Street, NYC.

Screen shot 2015-09-30 at 12.04.28 AM

Sarah Levy tweets #BloodyTrump to the Real Donald Trump himself.

While it has been a surprise to see Donald Trump leading in the polls, it isn’t shocking that Trump has become a muse for artists to critique. Sometime after the first Republican debate a mural by street artist Hansky depicted the candidate as a steaming pile of excrement. Along with #BloodyTrump by Sarah Levy, these works epitomize the Trump’s likeness and foul, crude personality. Levy’s portrait of Trump, painted with her own menstrual blood, draws inspiration from a sexist remark “You could see blood coming out of her eyes, coming out of her wherever,” that Trump made to describe Megyn Kelly, the moderator of the first Republican debate who called out the Donald on his misogynistic past and present. Levy, has stated that “The goal is to auction it off and give the money to an organization that helps Mexican immigrants in the U.S., because ol’ Don would hate that.” You can read her full artist statement here.

Eric Wayne

Eric Wayne

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been losing favor with more progressive leaning Democrats who see her as a cog in the same old political machine. Eric Wayne makes it perfectly clear that he sees this Clinton campaign as the same old system of politics by superimposing George W. Bush’s face onto a portrait of Hillary Clinton.

Dan Lacey, Bernie Sanders Pancake (2015) (via the artist's Flickr)

Dan Lacey, Bernie Sanders Pancake (2015) (via the artist’s Flickr)

Of course if it is an absurdist rebuttal that you’re looking for, Dan Lacey (the painter of pancakes) has you covered. Most of his portraits will leave you chuckling and grabbing your side while scratching your head about their true meaning. Although, a pancake dripping in what we can assume to be Vermont maple syrup does make some sense for the longtime senator of the green mountain state.

If you’re an artist that makes politically themed work around the 2016 Presidential Election, please feel free to share your links in the comments section!

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