Blair Bess, 10/24/2017 [Archive]

Abstract Expressions of the Trump Presidency

Abstract Expressions of the Trump Presidency

By Blair Bess


Donald Trump's approach to leadership appears to be as scattershot as a Jackson Pollack action painting.

There is a difference. One has method. The other madness.

Both men begin with an empty canvas.

Both their efforts assault our senses.

Both beg us to question whether we should concern ourselves more with intent versus content.

Pollack once said that he could control the flow of his paintings. He noted that while there is no beginning or end to his work, nothing he did was by accident. Through the experience of creating each one he could physically and emotionally be a part of them. The results of his efforts are not indiscriminate.

The president, on the other hand, is increasingly devoid of emotion, his actions have no intent other than destruction. He is detached and isolated from the images the rest of us see onscreen and online daily. Witness the horrifying mixed-media devastation of Puerto Rico. San Juan and its neighboring towns and cities are Trump's "Guernica."

Mr. Trump is out of control and out of his element; his frenzied, unpredictable movements are a daily distraction. Unlike Pollack's connectedness to his work, the president is disconnected from the consequences of his miscreations. Even his brushstrokes elude the canvas, as when he most recently failed to sign the Executive Order that upended the Affordable Care Act and the nation's insurance markets.

The president touts the thoughts and words of others, yet in walking away once they have been pronounced he unconsciously reveals that he cannot claim them as his own, that they fail to resonate with the very person voicing them. On more than one occasion, Vice President Pence has steered him, pilot fish-like, back on course so that he may scrawl his outsized signature upon the page.

A true master lets his or her work speak for itself. In this, the president is successful.

The Affordable Care Act? Beneath the splatter therein lies a pentimento; an imperceptible trace of what it once was. The Iran nuclear agreement, the Paris Accords and the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Drip-drip-drip. Obliterated by multiple swaths of finger paint. DACA and the alleged deal with the Democrats' congressional leadership? Nothing more than a hesitant whitewash.

Pollack was unique, a font of spirit and soul. The president, not so much. Within the confines of Mr. Trump's canvas, there is little more than ether. No matter how far back one must stand to survey the damage within, no matter how close one must lean in, in hopes of deciphering some meaning, there is none to be found.

By publicly exposing a part of himself on canvas, Pollack understood that both he and his work would come under scrutiny by traditionalists, perhaps bitingly so. While he, on occasion, responded hostilely to their opinions, Pollack also learned from them. In her biography "Clement Greenberg: A Life," Florence Ruben notes that Mr. Greenberg, a fellow critic, ultimately developed a friendship with the artist and had a significant impact on him; that he served as a catalyst for Pollack's growth as a painter.

Have no illusions about Mr. Trump growing into his presidency. His skin is as thin as watercolor; his vindictive responses to criticism, legendary. No one in the Oval Office truly has his ear. He does not learn from his mistakes and has inured himself to the opinions and advice of others, including friends and family members who have his best interests at heart.

Scattershot may initially come to mind when comparing the president's lame and ruinous attempts at governance with Jackson Pollack's originality, but appearances and first impressions are deceiving. Pollack left the world with startling images that opened our eyes and minds to a new way of seeing, thinking, and feeling. Mr. Trump's legacy may be startling as well: a world shrouded in a curtain of chaos.

-----

© Copyright 2017 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist. He edits the online blog Soaggragated.com, and can be reached at BBess.soaggragated@gmail.com.

Download Blair Bess's color photo - Download Blair Bess's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Blair Bess's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

Trump and Frederica Wilson
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
October 23, 2017

Trump and Frederica Wilson
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
October 23, 2017

Lying Press
By: Pat Bagley

October 23, 2017

Lying Press
By: Pat Bagley

October 23, 2017

WIdow
By: David Fitzsimmons

October 23, 2017

WIdow
By: David Fitzsimmons

October 23, 2017

You Are What You Vote
By: Christopher Weyant

October 20, 2017

You Are What You Vote
By: Christopher Weyant

October 20, 2017
  

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829 sales@cagle.com
Billing Information: (805) 969-2829billing@cagle.com
Technical Support: support@cagle.com

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. [Privacy Policy]