Obey, the Street Artist, Accuses French Far Right of Appropriating Iconic Image - Luxury Art Canvas

Obey, the Street Artist, Accuses French Far Right of Appropriating Iconic Image

Obey, a discerning street artist and article writer, has recently pointed a critical finger at the French far-right for appropriating an iconic image. With a sharp eye for social and political issues, Obey fearlessly delves into the realm of contemporary events, aiming to shed light on social injustices and advocate for change.

Obey’s Art Subverted by Far Right

It was a disheartening discovery for Shepard Fairey, globally known as Obey, to find his iconic artwork being used by the far-right in France. The renowned street artist, famous for his Barack Obama campaign poster, was in disbelief when he learned about this shocking appropriation.

An Image of Peace Co-opted

Fairey has long been a voice for social justice and political activism. He created a version of Marianne, symbolizing the French republic, as a gesture of solidarity after the terrorist attacks of November 2015. This powerful piece was later displayed in President Emmanuel Macron’s office, sparking accusations of political bias, which Fairey had to defend. To his dismay, the image has found its way into the office of Jordan Bardella, president of France's far-right National Rally.

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Obey’s Response to Misappropriation

Fairey expressed frustration over his work being hijacked. He stated, “My work's been hijacked for political purposes, but usually it's subverted in a way that makes sense.” He added that the values of liberty, equality, fraternity are not shared by right-wing extremists, making this appropriation particularly offensive.

No Legal Action Planned

Despite his outrage, Fairey has no plans to take legal action against Bardella. He explained that similar to handling former US president Donald Trump, legal action could undesirably amplify Bardella's actions: “If I were to take legal action against Trump using one of my images, he would just turn it around as a victory in some way, saying he's being persecuted.”

The Power of Art in Social Commentary

Throughout his career, Fairey has used art as a medium to confront social issues and injustices, from race to climate change. Reflecting on his journey, he acknowledged that “stupid politicians exist because the public allows them to exist.”

Fairey's roots trace back to the punk rock and skateboarding scenes of the 1980s, leading him to break into street art with his famous Obey stickers. Over 30 years, he has created 135 murals, hundreds of illegal works, and faced 18 arrests.

Art as a Form of Resistance

Despite concerns over growing fascism in countries like Britain, Greece, Italy, and France, Fairey remains steadfast in his belief in the power of art. He asserted, “Art is a joyful medium and when you look at how heavy things are in the world, how much brutality, how much injustice, if you can't face that with something that gives you joy, then you might not want to face it at all.”

He emphasized that art is not only a way to address difficult topics but also a means to shape culture and connect with each other.

Obey vs. Far Right Appropriation: Key Points

Obey's Experience Far Right's Actions
Created art representing peace and solidarity Co-opted this art for their own political agenda
Long history of campaigning for social justice Displayed Obey's art in the office of Jordan Bardella
Believes in art’s power to confront injustice Values inconsistent with original intent of the artwork
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