The combination of word and image is a staple of advertising and propaganda. It is the dramatic impact of these two media that inspired SKU to create this work featuring Vladimir Lenin.
"Propaganda usually employs word and image to convey a very strident, clear and explicit message: 'Do This', 'Fear Them' or 'Love Us'. Everything, words and images, tend to be black and white in terms of their intention and meaning. I wanted to create something that utilised the visual language of propaganda but reflected ambiguity...how very not black and white the world really is.
I wanted to take a stong figure and subvert the strength with tears and emotion. I wanted to utilise an icon and the visual language of power and force to communicate a more nuanced message that might be open to various interpretations but also reflected something that I genuinely think and feel." - SKU
The artist usually includes a number of symbols and references in his work. We asked about them but could only prise out information on two items featured in this work. Firstly, the upper quote was inspired by a Howlin' Wolf track 'Evil (is going on)'. Secondly, that the combs and hairdressing scissors on Lenin's tie were a reference to the fact that Lenin spent a year in London in 1902-03 and he met with like-minded comrades above a pub in Islington. The group sought to avoid the attentions of the authorities by maskerading as 'The League of Foreign Barbers'. SKU has created a club tie.
2017 marks the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.
SKU is an artist who lives and works in Walthamstow, north London. In his own estimation, he is 'the greatest artist that no-one has ever heard of, and I share that distinction with only 1.2 billion other artists'.
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