Condizione Assange

Spring 2020

Paintings and an exhibition

Issue 02

From May 11th, Miltos Manetas’ exhibition “Condizione Assange – Quaranta ritratti di Miltos Manetas. Una mostra che apre per restare chiusa” will be installed at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, but will remain inaccessible to the audience. The public will be able to see the forty portraits only on the condition that Julian Assange will be freed.
— Palazzo delle Esposizioni Rome 2020

"347 days in prison (Julian Assange, March 22, 2020)"

Miltos Manetas, 2020, oil on canvas, 50x80 cm.

Courtesy Simone Marini, Rome

At a certain point, you decided to paint portraits of Julian Assange. One a day, or so. When did you start? Why Assange? Why oil paintings?


23 February 2020. Yanis Varoufakis and several comrades from Diem25 are in London. Along with Brian Eno, Roger Waters, Vivienne Westwood, Zižek and others, they are trying to draw media attention to the Assange case. It's not easy; not many people are interested in the condition of a man who has spent the last 8 years "locked up". However, only a few days later, Assange's condition resembles the condition we will all find ourselves living in, something that we could never have imagined..

“The Assange Condition” is an exhibition that was conceived to not be visited; however, as you said in our previous interview, “it is NOT closed”. Moreover, it’s an exhibition that exists even without the works it was supposed to host – it exists and, for example, it is talked about. Here, and elsewhere.


The work I do on Assange, I call it #AssangePower. Even more than “power”, the right word would be “strength”. I feel that making these paintings gives me strength, giving them away to other people gives me strength, and now sharing them through “The Assange Condition” exhibition gives me even more! “Exhibition” for me means presence and, in this case, the presence of visual energy, generated by these paintings in a particular space – the Sala Fontana of Palazzo delle Esposizioni – and at a particular time in history in which we find ourselves in a condition similar to the one Julian Assange found himself in for years before his arrest, on April 11, 2019: self-isolation.

Finalmente le tele con i ritratti di Assange sono arrivate e ora si vedono tutte insieme allestite qui, nella “Sala Fontana” di Palazzo delle Esposizioni....


Esattamente! Anche Io sento questa presenza e – hai ragione – non si tratta di una persona o almeno, non si tratta di una persona umana. Io credo che, nella Sala Fontana del Palazzo, ci abita, per il momento, l'Assange Mediatico: una versione della media-persona di Julian Assange. È anche possibile però che si avverta qualcos’altro ancora: l'ombra del creatore di questa mostra! “Condizione Assange” è certamente un processo collettivo, partito dalle mie pitture, dall’invito di Clara Tosi, dal tuo coinvolgimento, e che è arrivato a coinvolgere tutti gli amici al Palazzo delle Esposizioni che, in una maniera o nell’altra, hanno reso possibile e conoscibile questa operazione. Però il "Maestro", il Grande Coordinatore credo non sia altro che una... Intelligenza Artificiale!


The Assange Condition

NERO Editions

Of course, Assange is not Jesus Christ: no one ever accused Jesus of crimes against other people. Like Christ, though, and more than any other famous person, Assange “toiled” for his cross, and then made it as heavy as possible, and impossible to put down.

Intervista a Miltos Manetas

Angelica Gatto for APT Diary

Io dipingo solamente quello che “devo dipingere”: le immagini che sono importanti per questo momento storico, per questa civiltà, il Mondo occidentale. Cerco anche di dipingere quello che non è stato dipinto. Il viso di Assange è stato dipinto moltissimo però sentivo che qualcosa mancava. Che, parlando di questo viso in particolare, era importante che un pittore – in questo caso io – dipingesse tutto quello che finora di lui era stato catturato solo con la fotografia. Considera poi che io non ho mai ritenuto di avere il talento di dipingere visi, nelle mie pitture li facevo quasi sempre fare da un assistente e li ridipingevo sopra o addirittura proiettavo la pittura dell’assistente e la ricalcavo. Con Assange, questo talento mancante è stato generato: questo succede solamente se c’è un vero bisogno che qualcosa venga rappresentato, un bisogno collettivo.


A great catastrophe is upon us and we haven’t done anything, we stopped for the virus, but we haven’t done anything about the real problem that afflicts the future of the world, which is climate change. The privileged class lives totally separate from the majority of the rest of the world and we don’t even know they think, we don’t know anything about these people. The hope is that this silent majority, whose ideas or opinions we know nothing about, will rebel and stop working for us. I really hope they do something surprising. And at the same time if we, the privileged class, think of returning to the way it was before without doing anything, it means – as Bartolomeo Pietromarchi said – that we are already dead.

"Days in prison"

22 Days in Prison

May 02, 2019, Courtesy Ben Wittner, Berlin, Germany

oil on canvas, 25x41 cm

370 days in prison

April 14, 2020 Courtesy Gabriele Fenoglio, Rome, Italy

oil on wrap paper, 50x68 cm

332 Days in Prison

March 07, 2020 Courtesy Valéry Grancher, Paris, France

oil on canvas, 25x41 cm

371 days in prison

April 15, 2020Courtesy Alessandro Gai, Rome

oil on canvas, 30x37 cm

20 days in prison

(Julian Assange, Apr 30, 2019", oil on canvas, 24x39cm Courtesy Lizzie Calligas, Athens, GR


The portraits are published on your Instagram account and the first person who "likes" them becomes the owner of that day's portrait. What's behind this mechanism?


The portrait does not go to the first person who "likes" it, but to the first person who states explicitly: "I want this painting". If there is a gift involved, I am also the one receiving it because,

if no one wanted the painting, the project wouldn’t exist, and I would probably have stopped painting Assange. Looking back at the reasons that led me to begin this project, I think that I was initially trying to establish some form of "relationship" with Assange. In a way, this relationship became apparent when I saw that so many people were excited to receive his portraits: somehow, I felt that he was becoming part of my "struggle" as an artist, and I was becoming part of his struggle, even though they are very different. On the subject of social media, I would say that, ever since they have become part of our lives, they are my studio – everything I do passes through them. There was no desire to criticise the art market; rather, I felt the need, practical but also psychological, for someone to acquire these portraits immediately, just as soon as they were finished. Receiving money wasn’t important, nor was I interested in the buyer's profile. I had to feel like I was giving them to someone. And that was how I came to the idea of the free offer.

"26 days in prison

"26 days in prison"

Julian Assange, May 06, 2019. Pencil and ink on paper 28x43 cm Courtesy Theokritos Papadopoulos, London, UK

28 days in prison (Julian Assange, May 08, 2019)"

oil on canvas, 50x70 cm

Courtesy Rafael Medina, Bogotá, Colombia

29 days in prison

Julian Assange, May 09, 2019

25x36cm, oil on canvas, Courtesy Dora Manolopoulou, Athens, Greece

Cultural Capital

30 days in prison

Julian Assange, May 10, 2019, oil on canvas, 20x23cm Courtesy Giovanni Fredi, Rome, Italy

33 days in prison

Julian Assange, May 13, 2019

oil on Plywood, 150x100 cm Courtesy Alonso Cedillo, Mexico City, ME

The Tumbrel

52 days in prison

Julian Assange, Sunday June 01, 2019, oil on canvas, 23,7x37 cm Courtesy Joāo Cruz, Portugal


350 days in prison

Julian Assange, March 25, 2020, oil on canvas, jpg in laptop and/or Lightbox 31x37 cm. Courtesy Turi Morando, Florence, Italy

Assange Togetherness


Togetherness is Power

We are His Power, he is Our Force


Togetherness is Power

We are His Power, he is Our Force

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