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Pawel Kuczynski

There is a Polish illustrator called Pawel Kuczynski who creates clever satirical illustrations (or artworks or cartoons – call them whatever you wish) which often seem humorous on the surface but have a deeper meaning (in fact the meaning is usually not particularly hidden and is generally fairly obvious) related to subjects such as modern society, politics, war, etc.

I think a lot of his work does make very credible points about society so it seems an obvious subject to discuss in this blog. I’m not sure about the copyright status of these works so I cannot display them here but if you Google his name you will find his work easily enough (or just go to http://www.pictorem.com/profile/Pawel.Kuczynski) and I am going to describe them in words for you anyway.

So here are a few of my favourites…

1. Loop. This image shows some people pulling down the statue of a dictator (think of the destruction of the statue of Saddam Hussein) but unknown to them (presumably) the statue is attached to an axle and underground attached to that are three other identical statues. As one is pulled down the next one emerges from the ground to take its place.

The imagery here is obvious. When the people think they have rid themselves one one hideous political leader they are really no better off because there’s always another one who is just as bad (or maybe worse) there to replace him.

I’m not saying that every revolution is doomed but in reality many of them are. Since the removal of Saddam is Iraq any better off? I think a very good case could be made to say that things are now worse. The people pulling down that statue really were just pulling up another one even worse to replace it!

2. Pawel Kuczynski 37. This shows a poor man or a peasant stuck in a pit (or maybe stuck behind a wall he can’t get over). There is a ladder leading out of the pit but the man has been forced to burn the rungs of the ladder to keep himself warm so now he can no longer escape.

Again the message isn’t really too obscure. There often seem to be ways for the poor and disadvantaged to rescue themsleves from the situation they live in, but the reality is that those ways of escaping are not really available to them simply because of their situation.

For example, imagine the ladder represents the possible time the person could put into being educated, but because he must work long hours every day just to make enough food to live the education option isn’t really available. Of course the rich look and ask: why didn’t he use the ladder?

3. Dollar. Shows a large dollar note is draped over a frame and a person is beating it like she would to clean a rug. Weapons of war fall from the note as she beats it.

The message seems to be that making money is a significant factor in warfare. One reason wars happen is that they are good for the weapons industry in the US (and elsewhere to a lesser extent). And why did the US put so much effort into intervening in conflicts in certain countries in the Middle East and far less into others? The fact that the countries where a greater commitment was made also have more oil might be a factor according to this illustration!

4. Pawel Kuczynski 25. On the surface we see the Washington Monument, a symbol of good leadership and a great president. But underneath the ground is a puppet-like figure and the monument is just his rather large nose which extends above ground-level. Maybe the reason his nose is long is that he lies a lot and it has grown, as in the Pinocchio story.

Politicians consistently come near the bottom of lists of trusted professions. There is a very good reason for this: they cannot be trusted and even those who are too clever to outright lie are generally talented at presenting information in a totally misleading way.

Another illustration, titled “Speech” makes a similar point. In this a politician stands next to a dais making a speech. There are several microphones in front of him but instead of cables these lead to a drain pipe which empties into a sewer.

5. Pawel Kuczynski 55. Here we see a large voting form with a smartly dressed person standing on it with a sheep dog. A herd of sheep are seen being directed towards a particular tick-box, presumably to vote for the candidate favoured by the herder.

People are easily lead by clever politicians and their hideous spin-doctors. Voting is largely a waste of time and people exercise about as much freedom when they vote as sheep do when they are herded towards a destination chosen by the farmer (for example, a slaughterhouse).

There are many other illustrations which would be worth commenting on. Many are far more obscure than those I have chosen here and different people might interpret them in different ways. I think the examples I have used here are fairly clear and my interpretation is probably what most others would accept. However, if you disagree or have anything to add please leave a comment!

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