Through the World's Eyes
The American president is inevitably a character known far beyond our own borders, and Donald Trump is more of a character than most. His relentless self-branding, distinctively sculpted orange hair and trademark stump gestures have struck a chord with people around the world, from Russians thrilled at his support for Vladimir Putin to Latin Americans who recognize his posturings from their own authoritarian leaders.
For months, Trump’s image has echoed around the globe—in graffiti, branding and galleries—capturing the sense of anxiety and triumph that has surrounded him as candidate and president.
Nairobi-based artist Evans Yegon became known for his vibrant portraits of President Barack Obama, beloved by Kenyans because of his father’s roots there. But Yegon has since turned to Trump, “an interesting character.” “I painted him because he’s hated and he’s loved,” the artist told an interviewer. “I did not expect him to be the president. It was a shock. But now we have to deal with him for four years. We have to love him.”
Street art is common, even encouraged, in Malta. And on the small country’s eastern coast, Czech graffiti artist Chemis gave a crumbling wall new life during the campaign with this mural in which a young boxer appears to have punched through Trump’s head. “That little American boxer [was to remind the] American people to fight back for their children,” Chemis told Politico Magazine, “but we know how it all ended.”
Nepali artist Sunil Sigdel debuted the painting “Peace Owner’s II” at the India Art Fair in New Delhi earlier this year, rendering Trump, Putin and (in a third, unpictured panel) North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in the traditional Nepali painting style known as Paubha, often used to depict gods. To many Indians, Trump’s friendly relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appointment of two high-ranking Indian-American officials in his administration point to a promising relationship. Sigdel’s work glorifies Trump, Putin and Kim “to the status of Gods,” the artwork’s curator told an Indian news outlet. “But the satire is that the fly is sitting on them.”
In the days after Trump’s inauguration, a Portuguese London-based artist known as Furia ACK channeled his frustrations about the new U.S. administration into a mural in London’s East End. Moments after the painting was finished, passersby began discoloring it with eggs. Furia ACK told a British news site that this was exactly the type of interactive art he hoped to create—“a symbol of discontent.”
In Russia, where Trump’s friendliness with Putin has been well-received, Trump has begun to appear in commercial contexts, including on a commemorative smartphone case released shortly after his election and on sugar boxes at a supermarket in the city of Tula.