The shocking kiss that went viral

The shocking kiss that went viral
People walk past a mural on a restaurant wall depicting US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin greeting each other with a kiss in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on May 13, 2016.
PHOTO: AFP

A mural showing the two men in a tight clinch has gone viral this week. Kelly Grovier looks at what it says about their relationship.

He's just not that into you. That would appear to be the upshot of a kiss shared by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin as imagined by a street artist in Lithuania last week.

Photos of the lip-locking mural featuring the Russian President and the Republican frontrunner for the White House have gone viral over the past few days.

At first glance, the image (which sprawls across the back of a BBQ restaurant in the Baltic capital Vilnius) lampoons the curiously flattering relationship that has emerged between Putin and Trump, following complimentary remarks that each has made about the other in recent months.

Seizing on Putin's praise of Trump as "bright and talented" and Trump's reciprocating estimation of Putin as "a leader, unlike what we have in this country", the mural appears amusingly to turn up the passion of their mutual regard into a moment of intense physical intimacy.

Or does it? Once the initial shock has passed of seeing such testosterone-fuelled survivors of Cold War tension kissing, a closer look at the mural reveals a level of subtle political commentary that cuts against the superficial sensation.

Many commentators on the image, which was created by the Lithuanian artist Mindaugas Bonanu, have noted the similarities between it and a famous image by the Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel that was painted in 1990 on a fragment of the Berlin Wall: the East German leader Erich Honecker kissing the Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev.

But where Vrubel's work was based on an actual photograph of Brezhnev and Honecker embracing in 1979, the new Lithuanian mural of Putin and Trump is a subversive fantasy and cleverly undermines the fraternal tenderness captured in the Berlin Wall image.

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