Russian police have shut down an exhibition and confiscated a painting featuring the Russia president Vladimir Putin and his prime minister Dmitry Medvedev dressed in women’s underwear. The work of art was on show at the “Museum of Power” gallery in St Petersburg. The authorities also confiscated a painting of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church depicting his nude torso covered in tattoos and other satirical paintings of politicians who backed new anti-gay legislation.
This comes as a crackdown banning of so-called gay propaganda comes into effect. If the prosecution is successful the gallery owner could face a maximum one-year prison term. The Gallery owner Alexander Donskoy said, “The officers had also shut down his establishment and have given him no explanation for the removal of paintings from the exhibition, titled ‘Leaders”. The artists have also expressed their surprize at the move and the artist who created the Putin painting Konstantin Altunin has left Russia in fear of being arrested after the show’s closure. Gallery owner Alexander Donskoy stated “After hearing that police were waiting at his home, Konstantin bought a ticket for Denmark and as of Wednesday he is in France”. It is thought that he has applied for political asylum.
St Petersburg is one of the first Russian cities to introduce a law banning the spread of “gay propaganda”. Despite an international outcry, the Russian government seems unrepentant about these new draconian laws. New anti-gay legislation has seen growing movement for a boycott of this winter’s Sochi Olympics.
The portrait of Putin is well executed, in an Expressionist style, reminiscent of Max Beckmann. We look forward to seeing more work from this emerging painter.