Recently, Donald Trump was mentioned in a single TV news segment 17 times. For those battling Trump fatigue, it is hard to understand the continuing fascination. Thus, I nearly jumped for joy upon seeing Ass Clown by Scott Scheidly, a meticulously rendered pink and purple painting of Trump in full clown makeup.
Dozens of similar portraits with titles like Care Bear Putin, Swingin’ Jong, and Emo Hitler comprise PINK, Scheidly’s series of colorfully dragged up historical figures, villains, and fictional characters adorned with Hello Kitty pins and purple fur stoles. Scheidly painted his first pretty political figure in 2013, before mounting several exhibitions of satirical work. “The first piece was for a 'Quentin vs. Coen' themed art show for Spoke Art Gallery, where I painted the Hitler character from the Inglourious Basterds movie,” Scheidly tells The Creators Project. “I love painting the most evil dictators or the most badass pop culture figures so that there's a good juxtaposition between color and perception. Hitler is my favorite for obvious reasons and also Kim Jong-il, because he cracks me up.”
Seeing largely scary and self-important men dolled up in over-the-top, feminine garb is delightful. “I never intended for my PINK paintings to be considered ‘homosexual,’” Scheidly says. “The idea was to show how the power of color and symbology can change perception, to make people laugh, and to hopefully make people think outside the box.” The stark contrast between the figures’ whimsical costumes and dour expressions is hilarious and sometimes shocking. The portraits spark an important debate on politics and propaganda, notions of sexual identity, and masculine power.
The artist shies away from insinuations of artistic activism, though, and hopes the paintings will simply inspire viewers to lighten up. While most people find PINK funny, “I have been told to kill myself because of the Spock piece (you know how Trekkies are), the Russians said that there are people coming to get me for my Putin pieces, and one lady lost her mind in a gallery over the Pope John Paul piece. I enjoy them all equally,” Scheidly says. “Humor is probably the most important part of these paintings for me. There's nothing better or healthier than making a person laugh.”
Check out all of Scott Scheidly’s work on his website.