The Trump-Putin Kiss – Street Art in VIlnius

The election of Donald Trump was considered shocking to many in the media and political establishment. There was consternation at the loss. The defeat certainly hit the presumed president – Hilary Clinton hard. Few, and from her behaviour perhaps herself too, had expected otherwise and the blame fell on everyone else too.

Soon though, the narrative shifted to theories about Russian meddling in the US elections. The friendliness with which Trump spoke of Russian President Vladimir Putin set many people off and certainly did not help the situation. The narrative has unfortunately turned political and partisan.

It was at this point that world mainstream media blew up with a picture of a mural painting showing Trump and Putin kissing. Lost to me, in the details were that this mural was painted in Vilnius.

It totally skipped my mind until the mural stared me in the face. Only it looked different, Trump and Putin were not kissing, they were sharing a joint (cigarette or weed I don’t know).

The mural was located outside an American Barbecue Restaurant, run by an Americano-phile and the mural was made by Mindaugas Bonanu, a statement that attempted to show how strange the closeness of these two leaders was and also how complex the relationship was. It was reminiscent of a similar mural made in 1990 of Brezhnev (USSR) and Honecker (East Germany) who embraced each other in 1979 at the height of the cold war.

BBC reporter Kelly Grovier raised some interesting points on how different it was, Unlike Brezhnev and Honecker’s more relaxed and convincing canoodle, the one shared by Putin and Trump appears tinged with suspicion as both men keep their eyes cracked open. After all, however loudly Putin and Trump may have blown each other’s trumpets, the actual compatibility of their political temperaments remains to be seen.

The majority of Lithuania is anti-Russia as frankly is the majority of the Baltic. All nations are part of NATO and have recently requested more troops from NATO to act as a deterence against Russian aggression. So its not hard to imagine that many people in Lithuania would be concerned about a US president who seemed to friendly and warm to the Kremlin.

Not to say that everyone was in agreement or thought that way, some people did not like the artwork (they probably wouldn’t have called it art). It didn’t take long for the mural to be vandalised and when the new mural was put up, the kiss was replaced with a puff.

But here’s the thing that the news perhaps didn’t mention, while the news focused on the Trump-Putin mural they neglected to mention that inside the restaurant were a few other hilarious pieces, all linked too to the 45th President of the United States 😉

Painting on streets may be considered vandalism in many places (graffiti) but when done well it transcends vandalism and becomes street art. Vilnius is full of street art. In fact Lithuanian street artist are rather well known. Most notable to me is Ernest Zacharevic who did murals in Penang (Malaysia) and Singapore.

How could Vilnius be any less choke-full of street art right? All round the city was graffiti that could pass for art.

And then there were the commissioned street art pieces that now form the backbone of a whole tour of the city.

Now there is a difference between street art and graffiti. Graffiti was the starting point and street art emerged from graffiti. I’ll let these videos explain.

Now each group has its own experts, for example the master of graffiti work in Vilnius is an individual who goes by the name of Solomon, while one of the most famous street artist in the world is the British icon Banksy.

Whereas in Gdansk where street art on buildings was limited to the Zaspa district, in Vilnius, street art was located everywhere in the city. The city also celebrates a street art festival, the last one in 2015.

It’s time for another street art festival Vilnius!

ON THE MAP

Check this map out for all the major street art pieces 🙂

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