The Bad Guys

Web-of-clans-614x1024Who is the most powerful? In my family, it was my mother…but that’s another story.  According to Forbes, which loves to delve into power games, the most powerful person in the world is Vladimir Putin. It’s Putin who had the audacity to waltz into Crimea and annex it.  It’s Putin who stoked a proxy war in the Ukraine, all the while, sitting like King of the Hill, atop a nuclear arsenal and energy stockpile some dare not question.  If you want to know from where he gets his “chutzpah,” try visiting the exhibition: Russia Through the Looking Glass: Terror, Humanity, and Geo-Politics through History, in which artist Anne Bobroff-Hajal gives us a hearty, yet colorful dose of Russian style horror, dominance and brutality. All Putin has to do is look to the past or visit the Mooney Gallery on the College of New Rochelle campus.

In her very visual, complicated, juicy narrative, Bobroff-Hajal collages, paints and animates her way through centuries of evil characters, who brutalized humanity, conquered territories and murdered thousands. As I pondered the work with its irresistible colorful palette, I wondered, to myself of course, if Forbes were to choose the most powerful character in Russian history, would it be Ivan the Terrible, a true barbarian who committed all kinds of grotesque killings to rid himself of what he considered encumberances. Or, would the crown go to Peter the Great, who expanded the Russian empire to become a key power in Europe. Still in the competition would be Catherine the Great, who disguised her sordid repression of the serfs by seeking enlightenment from the great European thinkers.  Stalin would, of course, also be a contender; he learned his killer instincts from all who proceeded him.  Then, of course, there’s still Putin. At the end of the day, Bobroff-Hajal has created an extraordinary series of tableaus with an online study guide, courtesy of her background as a seasoned academician. If you are tempted to weigh in on all or any of these characters, past or present, please let me know and I will alert Forbes and forward to the artist.

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