Written by Michael Ashman
It is a striking and straightforward image with a meaning that is all but simple. “Propaganda” by Coco Miller hits on one of the ongoing arguments about Obama: “Is he a Savior?” Or, more importantly, “Is he The Savior?” Whether he is or is not, the question can be argued to any length leading to more questions than answers. But, the main point is that “Propaganda” addresses the subject of how Obama is seen in some people’s eyes: a political savior of sorts. The image of the painting is clear: Obama on the cross being crucified like Jesus.
Sometimes cartoons, images and paintings are the best way to convey political messages to the public. “Propaganda” has condensed the idea that Obama is a savior by depicting him as Jesus on the cross. Other artists, such as Michael D’Antuono, have conveyed this message as well. “The Truth” by Michael D’Antuono depicts the President of the United States with the signature crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross. Like Miller’s piece, D’Antuono portrays The President with arms outstreched, as if he is on the cross. But, instead, D’Antuono depicts him opening the curtains in front of the presidential seal. Miller has taken it one step further by combining the actual image of the cross and thorns with Obama. As a result, the simplification makes the point more provocative for a wider audience.
“Propaganda” has an expressionistic style, which creates a larger emotional impact. Dark reds fill a foreboding sky as they blend with the red blood on Obama. The dark colors create a solemn scene. The broad brushstrokes add a gritty texture to the sky, cross and Obama. His body is detailed enough that one can see individual flexed muscles in his arms and his ribs poking out from beneath his skin. His contorted face shows his silent suffering on the cross. From this painting, one would get a feeling for Obama’s pain, just as if it is Jesus, because of the iconic and emotional similarities.
The word “propaganda” has its ties with politics. It is a form of communication that influences attitudes to one side of the argument; it is often used to encourage national spirit and rally against an enemy during wartimes. But, it can also be used in politics to win votes in an election. There have been arguments about propaganda in political posters for Obama with “Yes we can” or “Moving Forward” slogans. Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster is another notable example. Those examples all show Obama in a positive light. However, is “Propaganda” by Miller propaganda itself? Is it a positive image for Obama, or not? It really depends on the audience and their own viewpoints, and it is ultimately left up for them to decide.
The public is welcome to see Coco Miller’s “Propaganda” and other artworks at Thumbprint Gallery on 920 Kline St. in La Jolla during the “SPLICE” show. “SPLICE” offers a range of popular movie, TV, comic and video game characters merged together to create amazing crossovers. The “SPLICE” show runs until December 8 and the gallery is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Also, don’t forget to check out Thumbprint Gallery’s new gallery location in Hillcrest, TPG2 (inside the Bamboo Lounge), and its “Grand Opening Art Show” on display until December 14.