A sculpture of Putin perched on a tank appears in Central Park

Regulars at a sandbox in Central Park, one of New York’s most iconic places, have been playing with a surprising new toy.

This week, the little ones discovered a new installation near the slides, and while the little ones did not necessarily recognize the figurine they were playing with, the adults immediately identified Russian President Vladimir Putin perched on a toddler tank.

The sculpture is the work of French artist James Colomina, who was a dental technician before turning to street art. For him, his work is a “free art”.

“It’s when you put what you want, where you want, without asking permission. It is an art that frees itself from constraints. It’s public art, urban art. It is an art that appeals to all age groups and all social classes,” he told Euronews Culture.

If he started erecting his creations in his hometown of Toulouse, the street artist now exhibits his work all over the world: Berlin, Barcelona, ​​and now New York, where the occupant of the Kremlin seems to be portrayed as a petulant rascal. play war games.

“Political engagement is an essential part of my work. I try to defend causes as best as I can through my art. To denounce social problems, I react to injustice, intolerance and consumerism “, explained Colomina.

This is the second time the sculptor has reacted to the war in Ukraine.

In April 2022, he created “L’Enfant à la rose”: a masked child carrying an oversized rifle, the barrel obstructed by a rose.

“The places where my sculptures are installed act as an amplifier. This increases the resonance of the work. I like free and rather inaccessible places. Symbolic places.”

Sometimes he deliberately chooses unsuitable places to play with contrasts: “Macron spends his birthday in a tent with the homeless or Vladimir in the sandbox.

A growing notoriety

The bright red resin used by Colomina has become his signature, and over the past few years the market value of his work has increased dramatically.

This growing notoriety is not without consequences. Colomina coins have been stolen four times.

But the theft of works of art is a well-known phenomenon among street artists. Earlier this year, eight men were found guilty of stealing a Banksy artwork.

Theft is not the only problem, however. While some cities see added value in the dissemination of his art, some authorities are less receptive to his work. When Colomina erected a statue of a child painting the number 13 on the French Senate (a reference to the age of sexual consent proposed by the upper house of the French Parliament), the police quickly intervened.

As for the future? He has several works in progress but prefers to keep them secret: “I do it on the fly!”

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