Artist Maggie Sutherland: Nude Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Only in Canda, eh?

There just doesn’t seem to be any accounting for taste nor, possibly even sanity when it comes to art and apparently, Maggie Sutherland, a Miramichi native artist, has put that to the test by painting a nude painting of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper entitled, “Emperor Haute Couture”.

Painting done of a nude Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper by artist Maggie Sutherland.

One has to wonder what was running through artist, Maggie Sutherland’s mind when she set forth to paint an unauthorized nude painting of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Is she crazy?  Or, is she simply trying to be controversial and bring attention to herself and her work?  Perhaps, it’s simply for the money?

No matter what Sutherland was thinking, it’s most certainly brought a tremendous amount of response and attention to the piece and herself.

When asked in a CBC interview via phone, Sutherland responded to the attention she’s been getting over the painting with a “what more can an artist ask for…other than scads of money?” and laughed.

Stating that she has always been a fan of painter, Edouard Manet, Sutherland says that it had been rumbling around in her mind for many years and she was simply bringing Manet’s style and messages through to the 21st century and giving it a modern twist.  Inspired by “the long tradition of nudes in paintings, going back hundreds and hundred of years,” she said, and added Manet to the mix by “putting an everyday woman, in the place of a goddess on a couch so, I just tried to bring it forward to the 21st century and used a modern political figure in a very similar pose.  If you look at the internet, you’ll see that I really stole a lot from him [Manet].”

When asked what her reasoning was behind this painting, Sutherland seemed a little confused herself as to why she painted this particular painting, stating that “it wasn’t personal…it was a comment on how governments are…how they function.”

Sutherland doesn’t stop there.  She likens it to “Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Emperor’s New Clothes,” she states,  “where despite all claims to the contrary, he is parading through the town’s square naked.  It’s a comment on government more than personal.  He [Harper] just happens to be in the right place at the right time.”

When asked if she had a lot of doubts about doing the painting, she answered “daily,” and sighed, saying that she’d been asked if she’d had a lot of therapy to which she answered, still laughing, “yes, I’ve had a lot.”

Perhaps, a stupid question but, a valid one, she was asked if she had ever thought of asking Harper to sit for the painting and she laughed heavily, saying that she had to work from her imagination.  The question itself seemed totally ridiculous and Sutherland appeared to laugh it off, knowing it was a ridiculous notion for such an unwelcomed and unflattering painting of the country’s current prime minister.

She called the painting “old hat” to her at this point as she had finished it early in 2011 and had it on display in a gallery in Toronto for 3 months without much fanfare over it until it raised controversy while hanging in the local library in her hometown.

It sold to an undisclosed buyer for $5,000.00 so, one could guess that she’s laughing as she heads to the bank.

However, it’s made me wonder if perhaps, Sutherland also has her own sense of humor when it comes to herself?  Would she mind if I did a photo-painting of her?

I’ve been a fan of Chris Wake, an Australian Contemporary Artist’s work so, I’ve done a piece that I have titled, “Reclining Nude Kookaburra” featuring artist Maggie Sutherland as a statement of how artists are naked and exposed by their works.  It’s not personal to Sutherland.  It’s a statement of how artists work and can put meaning to pieces where there really may not be any to be had except controversy, imagination and attention seeking.

By the way, if the buyer of Sutherland’s painting is reading this, I’m also open for offers to my work as well.

Reclining Nude Kookaburra Artist

(I say that with a wink and a grin as this is actually Chris Wake’s painting “Reclining Nude with Kookaburra” and Maggie Sutherland’s head.)

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