Does art have a responsibility to comment on politics?
Art is a language, and if used in the right way, it can penetrate and say things in a highly emotive way that can be very powerful. Personally, I think great art can say things and ask questions about our situation in a way from all sides. Politics is part of our conversation about our society and community, so I think it has a right to discuss this.
Micallef produces work that transcends social, cultural, and political boundaries, and Trump’s Fags, visits them on the front of Marlboro cigarette packages. Micallef:
I used to paint self-portraits and made-up cartoon characters on the back of the cig boxes, as it was dark and humorous to me in some juvenile way. I like the idea of mixing language and contrasting images that mix messages to create something else. I think there is a fun alchemy in there and it’s the fusion of light and dark imagery that creates the bit I find exciting.
He created Trump’s Fags in support of Peace One Day, a non-profit organization that campaigns for a day set aside for a global ceasefire and non-violence. In 2001 the group’s efforts were rewarded when the United Nations adopted the first ever annual Peace Day on September 21.
Peace One Day’s objective has been to institutionalize Peace Day, making September 21 an annual day of global unity, a day of intercultural cooperation on an unprecedented scale.
Inspired by pivotal success in Afghanistan, where a 70% reduction in violent incidents was recorded by United Nations Department of Safety and Security on Peace Day 2008, Peace One Day founder, filmmaker Jeremy Gilley, says that after several years work with a global management consulting firm, it was estimated that 2.2 billion people had been exposed to the Peace Day message, that 940 million were aware of the day and that 16 million behaved more peacefully as a result.
Through initiatives and collaborations, Peace One Day continues to encourage organizations and individuals to reduce violence at home, in the workplace, at school, in our communities and towards our environment.
Gilley and Peace One Day Ambassador Jude Law travelled to Afghanistan with a campaign that, over the years, has resulted in 4.5 million children being vaccinated against polio as a result of Peace Day agreements in the region.
Peace One Day’s 20th anniversary celebration is on Saturday 21, 2019. Peace One Day’s goal for 2025 is to reach 3 billion people with the message of Peace Day.
Peace One Day is impartial and independent of any government, political persuasion, corporation or religious creed.
I was asked to do something for Peace One Day and the idea instantly came into my head. I love the power of logos and symbols and how they can say so much instantly. Donald Trump’s orange face and blond hair do work very similarly in a way as a logo for his brand. He’s a parody of the bad guy on The Simpsons, where it’s very hard to tell what is real and what is fake. I thought the cocktail of mixing his iconic face with the famous Marlboro red cigarette packet would work well stylistically and make an important point with a touch of humor.
I think Trump being elected is born through a lack of desperation and lack of education. When we swap education for entertainment and take away cohesiveness by stripping jobs, extremism grows. It grows in all forms like a fungus or a cancer and spreads to all the weak parts of society who desperately want to belong to something. Where aspirations are to be rich and famous, are we really surprised people are voting for a reality TV star?
44-year-old Micallef’s visual language draws from the Old Masters, graffiti, fashion magazines, corporate iconography, and Japanese cartoons. He made a big splash on the British art scene after receiving the BP Portrait Award competition, sponsored by the National Portrait Gallery in London it is the most important portrait prize in the world. Since then, his mix of political imagery fused with contemporary expressionism has won him worldwide acclaim. He has had shows at galleries around our pretty planet, including the Royal Academy and the Tate Britain. He was part the group show, the controversial Why I Want To Fuck Donald Trump exhibition at New York City’s Joshua Liner Gallery.
Micallef’s Trump pieces showed up in signs used in the Women’s March after the inauguration of the 45th President.