Venezuela streets brim with revolutionary art

Wed May 12, 2010 4:01pm EDT
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By Andrew Cawthorne

CARACAS (Reuters) - Blood drips from Hillary Clinton's severed head. The Virgin Mary cradles a machine gun. Karl Marx shares a wall with Hugo Chavez.

An explosion of "revolutionary" graffiti, posters and murals across Venezuela is spreading the Chavez government's ever-more radical messages to try to form a new generation of socialists and counter opposition propaganda.

"Given that capitalism has taken over the media and tries to distort reality, we are taking our vision onto the street," said Eduardo Davila, a young graffiti artist with a pro-government group called "Communication Guerrillas."

The often government-sponsored art fits in with a major push by the Chavez government this year to dominate the public arena, ranging from a presidential Twitter account to training youths in Web skills and painting the houses of the poor.

The profusion of murals, stencils and slogans on Venezuela's streets has a striking visual effect and a rallying impact on supporters -- even though Chavez's foes dismiss it as a shallow attempt to boost his sinking popularity.

Perhaps the most notable image to spring up recently is a politicized take on Italian master Caravaggio's "David With the Head of Goliath" that shows a young boy with a sword clutching U.S. Secretary of State Clinton's bleeding head.

Further illustrating the quick end to Chavez's early fruitless overture to Barack Obama, another image shows the U.S. president as a manic-eyed half-human and half-robot next to the slogan: "The Empire's New Toy."

Given the Chavez government's bitter political feud with neighboring Colombia, it is no surprise that Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's former defense minister and now a presidential candidate, appears on a wall with devil's horns and wild eyes.   Continued...

<p>Street artists who are members of the "Communicational Liberation Army", view their completed work in Caracas May 5, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins</p>