Art Criticism: How About That Putin Fella?

I don’t criticize every piece of art that I see, or even every piece of art that needs criticism.

I should clarify that. I don’t criticize every piece of art that I see, or even every piece of art that needs criticism, as far as most of you know. After spending a day with me, you’d know that I have something to say about most art. I save my written critiques for truly special works.

There really isn’t art that is more special than the pieces created for an exhibition honoring Russian president Vladimir Putin’s sixty-second birthday. These paintings, produced by artists who chose to remain anonymous, depict Putin as a Herculean character taking on modern issues facing his nation. I’ll be discussing my impressions of these pieces for your benefit. I’m also hoping that my criticism will help the artists who produced these paintings be better artists by Mr. Putin’s sixty-third birthday.

Painting One

(artist unknown, photo credit – BBC)

The first painting depicts Mr. Putin fighting Terror. He is literally in a fight with Terror. Putin doesn’t care for metaphors; when it is time for a fight, he’s going to fight.

Putin doesn’t look like a large man, but he is getting the upper hand against the much taller and heavily armed Terror. Good for him. We can all agree that the world would be a better place without Terror. It’s good to see the little guy getting in there and doing his part to keep us all safe.

But we can learn a lot from this painting, far more than just that Putin may actually be a dwarf.

First, Mr. Putin fights dirty. What kind of guy grabs another guy by his beard and yanks him around like that? That’s just not cool. I’m sorry that you kids had to see that, it’s not at all presidential.

But the real lesson in this painting is that you should never get down to Putin’s level. If you ever find yourself in a fight with him, never kneel because you feel bad about fighting a tiny person. He is one nasty son of a gun. Your best bet is to stand as tall as possible and extend your arms so he can’t reach your body.

My one caveat is that I think by keeping your arms extended and keeping him away from you, you’re risking him biting your fingers. Keep an eye on Putin if you fight him.

Let’s move on to our next piece, shall we?

Painting Two

(artist unknown, photo via BBC)


This painting is difficult to interpret, even for me. It is said to depict Putin fighting off “The horses of corruption“. That might be true. Horses often get what they want by throwing their money around and acting as if they are above the law.

But the painting could also be interpreted as showing Putin as a circus performer. If Billy Joel’s song, Leningrad,  taught us anything it is that Russia has a history of putting on circuses. When I look at this painting, I see an abstract depiction of an act called “Vladimir and his Many Mini Prancing Ponies”.

Moving on…

Painting Three

(artist unknown, photo via BBC)

Remember when this happened at the Olympics?

All the athletes were doing their best, but before a medal ceremony, this drunk deer showed up. He stole the medals for one of the figure skating competitions and was running around and was all, like, “I’m so good, the best you can expect is fourth place”. Putin was like “oh no he didn’t” and everyone was all “oh yes he did” and Putin was like “oh, no, not in my house!”

Yeah, and then he got up and grabbed the deer by his horn. The deer was like “hey man, I’m just playin’, get off me!” Vladimir Putin wasn’t about that, though. He got up in that deer’s face and said “Russia don’t play that, you’ve got to go.” He made the deer leave the Olympics after he got the medals back and he didn’t even give him a refund on his ticket!

Remember that?

Me neither. Let’s move on to our last painting.

Painting Four

(artist unknown, photo by BBC)

Are you seeing a pattern here? I am. Actually, I’m seeing two.

First, Vladimir Putin seems to enjoy dressing up as a gladiator.  I’m not judging the man for that. It’s not what I would do, but it is what it is.

I won’t judge him for dressing as a gladiator, but can we talk about the hem line on his gladiator kilt garment? No way Vladimir sits down in that thing without giving everyone a show they probably aren’t interested in seeing.

Putin seems to spend a lot of time fighting animals. First horses, then deer. Now here he is yanking the chain of some kind of wild pig-dog and kneeing him in the ribs. That’s so not cool. The poor creature is apparently already chained to a tree, with nothing to entertain himself but a little rock hammer.

Rock hammer…makes me think about The Shawshank Redemption. Maybe the pig-dog is going to tunnel his way to freedom over the next few years. You never know, it could happen. In fact, I’d say that the optimism that little hammer adds to the painting makes this the best of the works I’ve shown you today.

In summary, I think the Putin art show is a bit of a bust. The paintings are poorly executed, the subject is very odd and the exhibition overall delivers no positive messages.

You can find more of my discussions of art by clicking here.


13 Comments on “Art Criticism: How About That Putin Fella?”

  1. Terror looks an awful lot like a young Fidel Castro. Such irony.

  2. Christy says:

    The short Gladiator skirt bothered me as well although maybe he likes showing people his junk? And is that an oil rig or a Rock hammer?
    Overall, I find your perspective quite interesting, I think you’re ‘putin’ a new light on this art.

  3. knace says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you’re posting again! I really needed a laugh today. =)

  4. Amy Reese says:

    I can’t believe this art work. This is wild, borderline bizzaro. Your interpretations are spot on.

  5. I heard about these paintings on the radio and imagined the worst…or so I thought, turns out they are worse than the worst I imagined. In fairness though, Russian presidents are notoriously difficult to buy gifts for.

    I think your interpretations are excellent, although I do believe the horse one is actually a still from a horse workout video.

  6. Pie says:

    I’d neither heard of, nor seen these artworks before today. Now they cannot be unseen. Thanks a lot!

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