• FOCUS From NY to LA, street art of US candidates blooms


    LOS ANGELES: Many Americans are taking to canvas and poster board this year to express their political thoughts through depictions — sometimes unflattering — of presidential hopefuls like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    Trump, the controversial billionaire who is leading the Republican Party nomination race and is known for his sometimes incendiary comments, is perhaps the most popular subject among artists.

    “It’s gotten a lot of people together to create art against him,” said Mitchel Dumlao, cofounder of the LA Street Art Gallery. “It kind of speaks about the type of his political ideologies and backgrounds. The more controversial a candidate is, the more attention he gets.”

    New York artist Hansky unveiled in Manhattan one of the most blunt and critical depictions of the former reality TV star to date: Trump’s face incorporated into a pile of feces buzzed by flies.

    ‘No Trump Anytime’

    Known for disparaging remarks about Mexicans, Trump pinatas have been selling well for months both in the United States and Mexico.

    Other popular items in the Hispanic community are T-shirts and posters with the slogan “Donald eres un pendejo” (Donald you’re an asshole”) in large white letters on a black background along with a profile of Trump’s face.

    The people behind the “pendejo” art — popular in places like New York, Los Angeles and Miami — are the owners of the Mexican licor brand Ilegal Mezcal, who have been active in organizing anti-Trump rallies.

    Lately residents in cities like Chicago, Washington, New York and Los Angeles have been seeing “No Parking Anytime” street signs modified to read “No Trump Anytime.”

    “Like so many people, I don’t have a voice in politics,” said the Los Angeles-based artist Plastic Jesus, who came up with that idea.

    “The New York Times or The Times in London would never give me a column to write my opinion on politics, or the war on drugs or banking crisis,” he told Agence France-Presse.

    “But for me, street art is a good way to get my opinion out there and hopefully start a dialogue across the nation,” he said.

    Politics has always been a source of inspiration for art around the world.

    One of the most iconic murals is the kiss between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker painted on the remains of the Berlin Wall. The mural is based on a 1979 photograph of the two leaders in an embrace and what appears to be a deeply passionate kiss.

    In the United States, the blue, white and red “Hope” poster by artist Shepard Fairey based on a picture of Barack Obama came to symbolize the then-candidate’s 2008 presidential campaign.

    The poster went viral “and inspired and invited a generation of young voters to connect” with Obama, said Souris Hong, president of Creative Cabal artist agency.

    “The poster’s simple image and message resonated with the American public who were looking for a future to believe in” following the unpopular government of Republican George W. Bush.

    “The difference is, now with social media, the messages can spread wider and faster,” Hong told AFP.

    ‘Hillary Stinks’

    Hong is co-producer and co-curator of a touring art exhibit “The Art of a Political Revolution: Artists for Bernie Sanders 2016.”

    Flattering murals of Sanders have appeared in cities across the country including Philadelphia, Austin, Texas and Denver, Colorado.

    However Sanders’s rival and Democratic Party front runner Hillary Clinton’s depiction in popular art is not as positive.

    In one example her face is printed on a cardboard pine freshener — the kind that dangles from the rear view mirror in cars — with the slogan “Hillary Stinks – Reeks of Scandal” can be found for sale in Los Angeles.

    The former secretary of state also appears in a faux poster for the animated ogre movie “Shrek,” and in a series of black and white “Don’t Say” posters, that include her face matched with words like “Entitled,” “Secretive,” “Polarizing” and “Calculating.”

    “Street art in general has always been a tool against the establishment and the government, and Hillary is kind of seen as the establishment and the government: same old politicians that we’ve seen before,” said Dumlao.

    “People have a lack of trust on her and her campaign,” he said. AFP



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