Provo, Utah (CBSDC) – Jon McNaughton, a controversial artist who often mixes religion and politics in his work, has released a new painting.
In “One Nation Under Socialism,” President Obama holds the U.S. Constitution as it burns.
While McNaughton previously depicted Obama stepping on the nation’s founding document, “One Nation Under Socialism” glowers directly as if challenging the viewer. His right hand is holding the Constitution and his left hand is pointing to the flames.
McNaughton tells CBSDC that the hands “represents his recognition of what is happening (to the Constitution) as it goes up.”
“There are numerous symbols and subtleties in this painting, and I’m not ready to reveal all of them,” McNaughton said.
CBSDC contacted Jerry Saltz, an art critic for New York Magazine, about the painting.
When asked for an opinion, Saltz said that the painting contained “bad academic derivative realism,” calling it “typical propaganda art, drop-dead obvious in message” and “visually dead as a doornail.”
“It panders and preaches to the converted and tells them what they already believe,” Saltz told CBSDC.
Saltz said the painting could not be compared to WWII art.
“It has no graphic power of its own. It simply attempts to crawl into the body of that sort of illustration.”
When asked if removed a few years from Obama’s presidency could the work be then viewed as art, Saltz said the work is “inverted, with an American as an enemy — Hitler, Tojo, Stalin, whoever.”
“It’s much closer to the hate images produced in Germany pre-1939, in 1950s USA Red scare, in the USA around Jim Crow, etc.”
Whether stale or arresting, the painting turned McNaughton’s Facebook page into a battleground, where comments are flying from both political adversaries.
McNaughton acknowledges that his latest piece “has brought out more feelings among those on both the right and left than my other previous political paintings.”
Although President Obama is the focal point of the painting and he is the one holding the Constitution, McNaughton insists that he does not “presume to suggest that he was the lone culprit responsible.”
But despite the bickering, McNaughton hopes that he will get the “public talking about what the painting represents. Is Obama pushing a Socialist agenda on the American people?”
He hopes his art will get people to answer such questions.
“People need to start talking, and the conversation is about to get heated,” he said.
As with his other works, McNaughton released a video on YouTube detailing “One Nation Under Socialism.”
In the voice over, McNaughton says, “This is my pledge. I pledge allegiance to the United States of America and not to an ideology that could never stand: one nation — under socialism — divisive with no liberty or justice for anyone.”