L  A  R  R  Y     K  A  I  S  E  R 

POLITICAL PAINTINGS 

 ART'S MISSION must be so valiant that its pursuit requires Art's practitioners be as splendid in FEARLESSNESS as in articulation.

Indeed, posterity charges every artist to ATTACK despots, demigods. and tycoons with art's two most powerful weapons--RIDICULE and EXPLICITNESS. 

Note to gallery owners, collectors and other fine art dealers:

Historically, political paintings have been largely inept and boring and trade upon sheer ugliness. My paintings therefor are NOT conventional political paintings. That is, they are NOT a member of a genre which, with paltry few exceptions, has FAILED. 

 

My political paintings refuse to be mere protest, and they champion fine art qualities that political art has never before expressed. That should be a selling point, and it should interest any art dealer who aspires to offer art that is bold enough of purpose and explicitness to blow the thousand-dollar bowlers off tycoon collectors everywhere.

 

Consider: To date, NONE of the vast array of art, classified as political art, has passed the means test of superstar-quality impact. 

 

Why?  Because while acing all the questions in regard to how awful things are and getting all the easy questions right in regard to choosing social and governmental issues against which to protest, political art has gotten all the difficult questions wrong ...all the questions about quality and style and metaphor and draftsmanship and poetic symbolism and philosophical irony and content subtlety and classical and contemporary artistic concerns, and worse. Political art has totally failed at effective tactics and strategy. 

 

The political artist up until now has shown a lot of rag-tag passion but have displayed little professional discipline. They have not understood whatsoever the enemy’s weakness ...or how to strike at it...or how to look appealing and smart while doing it...or how to truly speak to the host population. 

 

The great lesson political painters need to learn about the their real power and the most effective tactical employment of that power may best be learned from the world’s great newspaper editorial cartoonists--attack the idea not the person; ridicule the idea; turn the idea into laughing-stock; avoid the universal; depict actual faces; name names; be explicit. Despots know that they cannot survive brightly lit exposure of the ridiculous and unnatural nature of their regime's underlying philosophy.


 

In 2011, masked members of Mukhabarat, Syria’s security forces, attacked the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat.  They broke both his hands and dumped him by the side of the road, then published a notice that said, “This is just a warning”.  His art was guilty of ridiculing an idea held by authority.
 

 

In 2006, the Iranian government jailed the political cartoonist, Mana Neyestani, in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, killed nineteen people associated with the artist, stoned his home, burned his newspaper’s office and exiled his family.  His art was guilty of ridiculing an idea held by authority.

 

Both the above political artists, and dozens more, mediocre as most of them were, but with similar stories of brutal and desperate regime obstruction of their art, are examples not of the weakness of political art nor its ineffectiveness, but rather, importantly, they are clear witness to the opposite--the ability of political art, when done right or even not quite right, to instill fear and a sense of panic in the establishment.

While I favor art that attacks evil, I am equally interested in exploring how the instruments, contrivances, and attitudes of the editorial cartoonist may be useful to fine art. Just how funny should fine art be? How powerful can irony be when made blatant? What is the place of text in fine art? What happens when art that the public understands and likes presents itself to the palaces of the established art world? What will it tell us about the attributes of fine art when we begin to see what is required in a piece of political art to separate it from the perceived artless vulgarities of political cartoons? Just how creative can the artist be in a painting that is expected to execute a mission? When is content inherent in art and when is content an impediment to art?

Representing my paintings would be smart, adventurous, and avante guarde, because you would be helping bring into art's mainstream the bold, brazen, humorous, unique,  outrageous, and lovable wiles of newspaper political cartoonists, together with all the questions and controversies attending such a  heinous proposition.

A Despot Ridiculed Is Despot No More

~Larry Kaiser~ 

 

 

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