The Art of Brexit: Portraits Reveal Europeans and Brits Cannot Split
An artist demonstrates, with a series of portraits, that “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
Europe, despite what it would like the world to believe, was never, and may never be, convivial and civilized. If the current irreconcilable state of Europe, with a cold Brexit looming, French citizens rising against their government (again), and Europe-wide metastasis of right-wing nationalist movements, seems an aberrant phenomenon, you might suffer from intentional amnesia of Europe’s heinous history.
Since the decline of the Roman Empire, with the start of the Great Migration period, Europe has been marked by migration, invasion, strife, bloodshed, and mutual contempt. The hopeless might believe that there hasn’t been much improvement in Europe.
But what if migration, invasion, strife, suppression, as well as a petty, jealous, pompous and violent character were a necessary condition that made Europeans European? What if Europeans’ indubitable artistic, intellectual, and practical accomplishments exist, because some people prevailed over diametrically opposed forces destined to annihilate them?
Arstyr, the continental, mononymous artist, claims just that with “My European Faces”, a series of portrait paintings. From the original Brexit date, March 29th, until the extension date, May 22nd, Arstyr will publish a portrait daily on Twitter and the artist’s blog.
The portrayed mythological, imaginary, historic, public, and private Europeans aim to reveal, in their entirety, an aesthetic Wittgensteinian family resemblance; an underlying construct of European provenance, personality, history, style, tradition, culture, and values.
Although superficially, the portraits just seek to amuse and charm the viewer, the deeper questions of how envision Europeans themselves in the future? who do they want to be? are handled with a deceptively light touch.
It should be self-evident that Europeans, while a cantankerous and dysfunctional pastiche, are still a family. However, most don’t seem to see the forest for the trees: Europeans share a common bond much older, stronger, and more indelible than their divisive and precarious European Union suggests.
These pleasing portraits of Europeans should remind both Brexiteers and Remainiacs alike that you can take Britain out of Europe, but you can’t take Europe out of Britain!