There are few artists more innocuous, more neutered, more universally loved and reviled than Thomas Kinkade. His soft-focus images present an idyllic vision of America and of Christianity, like Norman Rockwell without the blue-collar populism, where everything is beautiful, nothing hurts, and there’s always a warm fire going in the Lincoln-Log cabin just down the trail.
All of which is to say he makes a perfect target for rabble-rousing artist Anthony Freda, whose latest series of works intervenes on Kinkade’s fantasy land, peppering his spacious skies with those potent symbols of everything shady in America today: drones. Freda buys Kinkade’s paintings and adds his embellishments the old fashioned way–with a stencil and some spray paint–and will eventually resell them, with some proceeds going to benefit anti-war activists.
Watch Freda create one of the works in the video above.
“Thomas Kinkade, to me, represents a kind of shallow, and meaningless patriotism,” Freda tells ANIMAL. “He is the visual equivalent of chanting ‘USA!’ or slogans like ‘support the troops’ while also supporting the fraudulent pretexts that are sending our brave soldiers into harm’s way.”
Freda originally planned to make his modifications right in the gallery, without buying the paintings, but ultimately decided he “won’t be very effective in prison,” he says. Now, he’s traveling to Kinkade’s retail outlets all over the country, purchasing the work and doing everything legally, and hopes to mail stencils to anyone who’d like to join the project.
Though Freda’s work targets Kinkade directly, he doesn’t have any beef with the “Painter of Light” himself–just the safe, unchallenging version of America he presents. “I don’t hate the man, or even some of his work. He was clearly a marketing genius,” Freda says. “I want to awaken the true patriotic spirit of Americans by exposing the fact that war crimes are being committed in our names and that the liberties that made this country special are systematically being dismantled before our eyes.”