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?
Paintings and an exhibition
"347 days in prison (Julian Assange, March 22, 2020)"
Miltos Manetas, 2020, oil on canvas, 50x80 cm.
“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.
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....
The Assange Condition
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
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"
Julian Assange, May 06, 2019. Pencil and ink on paper 28x43 cm Courtesy Theokritos Papadopoulos, London, UK
#AssangePower in progress Updated Google Doc
- It's not generosity
- It's Propaganda
Updated Google Doc
28 days in prison (Julian Assange, May 08, 2019)"
Courtesy Rafael Medina, Bogotá, Colombia
29 days in prison
25x36cm, oil on canvas, Courtesy Dora Manolopoulou, Athens, Greece
30 days in prison
Julian Assange, May 10, 2019, oil on canvas, 20x23cm Courtesy Giovanni Fredi, Rome, Italy
33 days in prison
oil on Plywood, 150x100 cm Courtesy Alonso Cedillo, Mexico City, ME
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
We are His Power, he is Our Force
We are His Power, he is Our Force
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