Distortions of War: a Portfolio
Issue #73, April 2005
As if one needs yet another reason to curse the Iraq war, it certainly has distorted my artistic energies. An 800-pound gorilla, a sinkhole, a lodestone or dark star, the war has pulled my creativity into responding to its outrages...when I should be producing stuff of more lasting value, something more optimistic, celebratory and positive.
Once the war raged on I could not help but see any broken body, whether dried fish
or plastic Halloween skeletons, as war's further damage.
I began to adopt an affected heroic mode, dashing off sketches on odd scraps of paper for big ironic history paintings in the grand manner. One would commemorate loyal son Bush 43, bearing a trophy of a decapitated Saddam, as he pulls his father the disgraced and dispirited President Bush 41 from the muckpit of historical judgement against him.
The most ornate manifestation of this artistic direction was an embryonic design for a post office mural, a piece of public art appropriate to a kinder, gentler time in the future, yet sketched about a week after the US invasion. In the work, France--the national personification Marianne, buxom as Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People"--and Germany present the whiskey-besodden warmonger Bush in chains and rags (allegory of his immorality) to the World Court. An Iraqi woman holds the head of Saddam as evidence, co-conspirators Rumsfeld and Cheney are in the dock awaiting their trials, and Ariel Sharon sits nearby, disgusted. Kofi Annan (Bush's boss, to whom a US President should always defer) presides in judges' robe and wig. Picasso's antiwar painting "Guernica", displayed behind Annan, lends further moral weight to the proceedings; its tapestry version was covered when Colin Powell addressed the United Nations General Assembly to claim Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
Alas, this arrest and presentation of the criminal before the proper authorities failed to happen during Bush's European travels in February 2005.
An artist might sit around and draw, draw, draw, creating allegories and memorials to the victims of Falluja and elsewhere in Iraq...but that's not the same as stopping the war. Still I sketch, I sputter, my creative output merely distorted by war, while Americans and Iraqis needlessly die.
Drawings and Collages (c) Mike Mosher 2005* * *