Popular Canadian First Nation artist Kent Monkman recently found himself facing backlash over one of his latest creations that involves the image of a certain Canadian statesman in a rather provocative pose, CBC News reports.
The painting in question, "Hanky Panky", features a depiction of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, partially undressed and standing on all fours while surrounded by laughing indigenous women, "preparing for what Monkman called 'a consensual act'", as the media outlet put it.
However, while the painting, which Monkman said was “meant to highlight problems with 'the Canadian (in) justice system' and the victimization of Indigenous women”, reportedly earned him praise from some, including Ojibway Senator Murray Sinclair, it also evoked a wave of criticism from others.
"It just really made me feel sick, and the way that the likeliness of Trudeau was being held down and forced into it," Jaye Simpson, an Oji-Cree Saulteaux queer artist and writer in Vancouver, said as quoted by the media outlet. "It reminded me of some of my own situations and it just made me sick."
Arguing that "sexual violence" in the painting looks like it "was being depicted as restitution", she also insisted that the traditional roles of Cree women were being disrespected by it, as CBC points out that Monkman previously described the circle of women in his picture as "traditional law keepers, the okihcitâwiskwêwak in Cree”.
At the same time, Senator Sinclair suggested that Monkman actually produced “another monumental testament to the treatment of Indigenous women and the public's lack of caring” by “reversing the roles of victim and victimizer”.
"He has managed to get people worked up over the obscenity of the content, in startling contrast to the intellectual calmness with which people look upon how Indigenous women were treated", Sinclair stated. "I wish people were as shocked and angered at that visual as they are at Monkman's portrayal of it. He's talented. He's brilliant. He cares. Do you?"
Meanwhile, Monkman himself went on to apologize for his work, saying that he regrets “any harm” caused by it.
"I acknowledge that the elements I had included to indicate consent are not prominent enough, and I see now how the painting could appear," he said.