Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saif the Artist

Saif Gaddafi's paintings

By Rob Beschizza at 2:50 pm Friday, Oct 28

People keep talking about Saif Gaddafi's artwork, but it is useless without pictures. Here are a few of the paintings ascribed to him in press reports. Many are sadly but necessarily shot at oblique angles to make them more interesting.

Whenever they've been exhibited, critics have been very unkind to Mr. Gaddafi. It's true that the paintings resemble a high schooler's first stab at a selection of genres. But these critical notes play strongly into an established narrative of 'tyrant art' that does not do Mr. Gaddafi's spectacular work justice. In fact, Mr. Gaddafi's surrealism is not like, say, the studied mediocrity of a Hitler landscape. It is quite its own thing.

Take The Challenge, for instance, above. It appears to feature three Christian crusaders being burned from reality by the stern glare of a giant airborne bust of Muammar Gaddafi. Zardoz-Muammar is wearing vintage cocaine shades like you can get on Etsy. There is also an eagle. This one is my favorite.

In this work, Gaddafi is doing that thing where you go for inoffensive decorative gradient effects so that it'll be decent no matter what. This is the sort of painting that journeymen do over and over again, until everyone realizes that it is going to be their career-defining motif and says, OK, sure. You could totally sell prints of this to restaurant chains in the southwest, or to tourists as numbered Giclée prints in galleries in New Orleans or whatever. It is seen here in Moscow at the international Small Picture Frame Default Art Expo. Photo: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Titled Still Life, this one was presumably put in just to make sure he'd get a C if the examiner was really old-school. Evincing a degree of technical accomplishment not present in his more strictly symbolist entries or indeed the prior still life, this might be Mr. Gaddafi's Akiane moment. Photo: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

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