If you're an epochal historical figure you are in some sense going to be all things to all people, and it stands to reason that some of those people will be painters, and of those, some quotient will be bad painters. Which is what makes badpaintingsofbarackobama.com not just a hoot but culturally inevitable. It's ultra-minimalist, as online galleries go -- just a bad painting of Obama per page, with a neat little drop shadow added to give the images an extra shot of hilarious self-importance. Some of them actually aren't bad (at least not to my untrained eye -- I don't know a lot about bad painting, but I know it when I see it); some are either goofy (like this one of Obama looking like Mr. Roarke from "Fantasy Island") or disturbing (like this one of Obama looking like The Rock). Some of them are actually sort of moving. Taken individually they're easy to dismiss. But click through the site for a while and something unexpected happens: Your image of Obama begins to lift and separate from the mire and chatter of the 24-hour news cycle, and you begin to see him again as (perhaps) you once did -- the repository of a whole lot of different, and different-looking, hopes.
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