Cold War Steve
June 16, 2019 3:06 AM   Subscribe

Coldwar_Steve “I don’t know what I would do if couldn’t satirise these repellent, grotesque imbeciles. From the point of view of creating art, it’s a fantastic time, there’s so much material. But thinking of my daughters growing up in this world is frightening – a small, shrinking island, bitter little England. I just hope good will prevail in the end.” From The Guardian: 'His work features public figures in typically English settings – seaside towns, low-cost supermarkets, working men’s clubs, car boot sales, a nostalgic place of “Fray Bentos pies and insipid high streets”. Among the Brexit cast list are Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Theresa May, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jeremy Corbyn and the Queen. An international presence is supplied by Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.' Picture gallery, The Guardian. The Time Magazine cover, link from The Poke.

Article from June 2018: After the EU referendum and US election, Spencer’s images became more surreal... He also introduced oddball repeated motifs — a post-lunch footballer-turned-radio-pundit Alan Brazil, Sam Allardyce eating a Fray Bentos pie, a tapir — that, argues Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, took McFadden’s Cold War to the next level.

“The secret of comedy is the catchphrase,” he explains. “Steve Bell’s penguins. My fur cup. Repeat certain jokes, they get funnier each time. Also, the best satire isn’t about puncturing pomposity but pointing out these people still shit and will die. James Gillray showed the monarch at stool. McFadden’s Cold War drops Trump and Kim down a dogging layby. It’s bringing them down to our level.”
posted by glasseyes (21 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
These are great. I don't know who most of the people are (I bet that bald guy isn't really Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars), but the pictures are still very entertaining.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:29 AM on June 16, 2019

Best of the Web! ::applause::

Also, the best satire isn’t about puncturing pomposity but pointing out these people still shit and will die.
posted by hugbucket at 4:13 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

The man eating the pie on the bus is Ainsley Harriott, not Sam Allardyce FWIW.
posted by StephenB at 4:19 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I dunno, this just leaves me a bit cold? Heavy vibes of Your Manager Who Still Cracks Themselves Up Saying "Trump, what a twatbager" And Thinks JK Rowling Should Be Prime Minister

Apologies for the "eh" post, anyway.
posted by ominous_paws at 5:15 AM on June 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

This made me check Roger Daltrey's Wikipedia page.
posted by tommasz at 5:16 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I bet that bald guy isn't really Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars

I think you probably mean Steve McFadden, most famous in the UK for his character Phil Mitchell in popular soap 'Eastenders'. He appears in pretty much all of Cold War Steve's work, see this link for more on this.
posted by biffa at 5:17 AM on June 16, 2019

I'm with you, ominous_paws. Very mediocre stuff, in my view.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:19 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Anyone making art and satire out of this disaster is a good guy. I'm glad he landed on something that helped alleviate his mental health issues and alcoholism. Every semester I show students Hannah Hoch's Cut With a Kitchen Knife and try and break down the political and cultural references for them. Work like this is a great foil to show that photomontage and political satire are alive and well and that laughter and political engagement can still go together to fight serious problems. He is also a reminder that you don't have to go to art school to be an artist. I am glad to be introduced to his work.
posted by Cuke at 6:05 AM on June 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well to me there's such an edge on them I wasn't surprised to read about Steve's, like, issues/despair. I mean maybe if Brexit/trump wasn't happening right now, meaning there's a majority of us utterly puzzled and appalled as to how we got here, the collages wouldn't have spoken to me at all. However it is, and they do.

Also he didn't get into art school. Someone who drew everyday from being a kid. *rolls eyes* Personally I think this demonstrates something about the middle class capture of arts practice that's typical of UK these days - particularly noticeable in drama/TV, journalism, media generally. Art school used to be the one further education place you could get into provided you had just a little bit of visual intelligence. I suppose the essays and notebooks he did for his course work weren't up to scratch. God forbid your visual sense alone get you into college. (-- speaking as an artist this sarcasm is plenty bitter)

I hadn't heard about him, saw the gallery of his work in the Guardian and really was surprised on further reading to discover how quickly and roughly they are made. Because they absolutely are coherent and unified visual works. When I first glanced at Raft of the Twats I thought it was a painting.
posted by glasseyes at 7:51 AM on June 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

And it's ok about having an "eh" response, but I did want to say I find them full of visual intelligence, beyond the way they're a contemporary commentary. To have those qualities going on and to be genuinely popular (like Banksy) to me is something super special and rare in the arts.
posted by glasseyes at 7:57 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Trump, what a twatbager" And Thinks JK Rowling Should Be Prime Minister

To be fair, he is, and as yet the Conservative party leadership contest has yet to produce a candidate likely to do the country less harm than a thoughtful wizard novelist.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:00 AM on June 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

glasseyes, thank you for sharing your expert commentary. What I find fascinating is the evolution of art as media evolves around us. For instance, a few years ago, I began seeing more and more .gifs show up in art tumblrs and have come to love the medium for its ability to insert some movement in what would otherwise be a flat 2D piece. Nowadays, you can tell who has the visual intelligence + spatial + graphic design by the quality of the gif made, and the timing of the loop and the parts selected to be animated versus the thrown together pieces that were common when the concept first started as a "hey look, cool thing".

ColdwarSteve has taken the concept of memes + collage + political commentary into a definitely clear artform in its own right. Speaking as a former admissions director for design programmes I wonder if he was ahead of the curve in his use of media and tools to be wholly taken seriously by the administration as a serious artist?
posted by hugbucket at 9:07 AM on June 16, 2019

I like these! They provide a nice counterpoint to the works of painters such as Jon McNaughton.
posted by TedW at 9:29 AM on June 16, 2019

I don't know when he would have been applying to go to college but he has 3 kids and the eldest is 13. I'd assume it was long ago enough that digital art was neither popular nor accessible yet. Since then he's had time to have a number of jobs, get ill, get better, start a family etc so it must have been a while back. The idea of the huge audiences that can be reached online now won't have been around when he was trying to go to art school.

I hate the idea that having a tough time makes someone a better artist but there's a sort of don't give a damn-ness about these in execution and in subject matter that gives them their quality.
posted by glasseyes at 9:34 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

... and that quality, is a kind of ineffable naffness, prized and cultivated base note in the national aura ...
posted by glasseyes at 9:55 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

These are great, but they might require a certain British perspective to really get. One quote remarks on these as our decade's version of The Day Today and The Thick of It, and this definitely gives off vibes of Chris Morris/Smokehammer absurdity.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:18 AM on June 16, 2019

I wish I liked these more than I do. But 'bleak yet hilarious' isn't cutting it for me at the moment. I'm not in the mood for absurdist humour, I'm in the mood for anger and disgust. And these images seem to encourage a sort of resigned fatalism -- "yeah, Boris, what a twat, but I mean, what can you do?" -- that feels a lot like complacency in the face of impending disaster.
posted by verstegan at 10:32 AM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

That really is very British. See It Ain't Half Hot, Mum
posted by hugbucket at 11:46 AM on June 16, 2019

I'm not in the mood for absurdist humour, I'm in the mood for anger and disgust.

Hold my drink.................
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 2:18 PM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting glasseyes, coldwarsteve certainly hits the note for me. Maybe it's more hilarious as NZ lacks this level of bleak humour when it comes to targeting our so-called leaders. Anyway I laughed out loud.

Also somewhere in there I came across Led by Donkeys which is similarly bleak, but also a real step forward in getting people talking about real issues.
posted by unearthed at 2:26 AM on June 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just came here from the Sumptuary post about pointy footwear to find this photo.
posted by MtDewd at 3:37 AM on June 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

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