No doubt that Art is a reflection of society and even if a piece of Art is far from being a political
comment for sure it denotes meaning that could certainly be political: the lack of compromise is the ultimate political statement. However, a straightforward piece of discontent is more likely to cause a stir among the public. Countless Artists have been confronting the public with serious issues, from street artists to film-makers, political comment is not new in the Art world.
No long ago the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei pulled out two exhibitions in protest for Danish new bill that would allow authorities to confiscate asylum seekers’ assets. So often, society goes one way closing the barriers, brushing opinions and holding a fixed discourse. Conversely, Artists channel their Art in order to express disapproval, expose the incongruence of the system and sometimes ignite change. For instance, Guerrilla Girls ( Gorilla Girls) since the mid-1980’s onwards have been exposing the lack of representation women Artist have within America Cultural Institutions. Although they claim not be strictly political, but rather tackling their concerns with a dash of humour, not doubt that gender issues are at stake.
Down the border, Frida Kahlo equally talented husband Diego Rivera all throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s gave voice to the working class and native peoples of Mexico. Reflecting on the workers struggles and the social inequalities in post-revolutionary Mexico. If we go further back in time and cross the Atlantic Sea, more precisely to the beginning of the nineteenth century Spain, the painter Francisco de Goya conspicuously portrayed the absurdities of his society.The print series Los Caprichos ( Caprices) 1799 depict the wicked side of the human condition. In 1814, he painted the executions of Spanish men by French forces, The 3rd of May, 1808 is a powerful portray of the cruelty of war.
No doubt that Art can provoke discussion and raise awareness about serious events happening in our society. There are countless examples of works of Art that challenge the status-quo. If Art is a way of expression, is far more powerful exploring social and political issues, not for the glory of the Artist, but for the oppressed whom may have no other means of communication.
Francisco de Goya, The Sleep of Reason, Produces Monsters ( Los Caprichos series, 1799)