New Art Exhibition Recasts Vladimir Putin as Hercules

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Art from the exhibition of Hercules-themed Putin art.
Photo: Via the Vladimir Putin Facebook fan page.
putin-hercules-exhibition

Art from the exhibition of Hercules-themed Putin art.
Photo: Via the Vladimir Putin Facebook fan page.

A one-night-only art exhibition in Moscow casts Vladimir Putin in the role of Hercules, hero of Greek mythology, equating the Russian president’s political achievements to the demigod’s famed 12 labors, reports the Guardian.

It would be easy to imagine such an exhibition as a not-so-subtle dig at the Russian’s proclivity towards carefully staged and comically manly photo ops, as cataloged by the Atlantic—Putin has been variously photographed racing a Formula One car, horseback riding while shirtless, kicking butt in a judo class, arm wrestling, tagging an endangered tiger for monitoring, driving at the head of a motorcycle gang, scuba diving for ancient Greek urns (see “Can Russia Save Crimea’s Archaeological Sites From Looters?“), and piloting a plane being used to fight a forest fire—but these artworks, displayed in celebration of Putin’s 62nd birthday, are 100 percent in earnest.

putin-hercules-exhibition-3

Art from the exhibition of Hercules-themed Putin art.
Photo: Via the Vladimir Putin Facebook fan page.

Where Hercules strangled a lion, Putin does the same to a bearded suicide bomber, representing his victory over terrorism. Where Hercules fought the many-headed Hydra, the Russian leader combats western sanctions against the country, having already sliced off the US head of the beast. Among the president’s other great deeds were the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, showing Putin holding up the heavens as Hercules did for Atlas, and the annexation of the Crimea, likened to the Greek hero’s capture of the Cretan bull.

“We’re forming a different image of Putin because the western media constantly criticizes him, and our media occasionally attacks him as well,” Mikhail Antonov, the exhibition organizer and head of the Putin Facebook fan page, told the Guardian. “But here we see him completing these heroic deeds. We see that the interpretation of these events is not so categorical.”

putin-hercules-exhibition-2

Art from the exhibition of Hercules-themed Putin art.
Photo: Via the Vladimir Putin Facebook fan page.

The artworks are said to be the work of an anonymous collective of artists that belong to the Putin fan group. Antonov hopes to give the president the paintings as a birthday gift.


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