Stephen Harper, Canadian politicians targeted in new exhibition at Cube Gallery
Historically, court painters used their brushes to depict an insiders’ view of the pomp and circumstance of the royal court, but in the case of Court Painter: Good To Go!, Canadian artist Allan MacKay cut and pasted on his computer to create a searing satirical take on the scandals and political peccadillos of Stephen Harper’s government.
The exhibition, that opens Tuesday at the Cube Gallery on Wellington Street, is a collection of elaborately layered caricatures of contemporary political figures such as Harper, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Nigel Wright in the same style as the traditional court paintings of the past.
“In a sense I have just kind of updated the role and relationship of the court painter, who is of course the observer of all the political backroom stuff that goes on,” said MacKay from his home in Banff, Alberta.
The images are deliberately provocative and funny.
MacKay shows Stephen Harper sitting for a photo taken by a panda, Pamela Wallin snapping selfies, as Nigel Wright whispers into Mike Duffy’s ear.
MacKay has created hundreds of these caricatures, digitally manipulating faces from the news and inserting them into classical settings, such as works of art or 18th century artists’ studios.
“It’s a tradition of caricature that has gone on for centuries, where through graphic means, artists will create political or social satire, by exaggeration or commentary,” said MacKay.
MacKay said he doesn’t expect to sway voters in this pre-election show at Cube Gallery, but rather give a big smile or chuckle to those who are already cynical about today’s political landscape.