Marcin Bondarowicz
Marcin Bondarowicz is a skilful Polish cartoonist. He is also a painter, a photograph and a poet. He was born in 1976 in Starachowice, Poland. He lives now in Poland as a freelance artist.
Marcin works in traditional and digital graphic. He is doing all sort of illustrations in various techniques such as : oil painting, acrylic, computer illustration. Marcin has recently been working as a journalist specialized into press illustration. He worked for magazines such as BusinessWeek/Poland, Bonnier Business Polska, Integracja Europejska, Gazeta Bankowa.

I met Marcin after He, I and other Western cartoonists (mainly the Norwegian Firuz Kutal and the North American David Baldinger) had written a collective letter following the controversy of the Hamshari cartoon contest about the limits of Western Freedom of Expression. Since then, we have kept a very close contact.
Here are some excerpts of Marcin’s art conception and artist’s perception. I spotted these wonderful lines in our e-mail communications. I thought these profound thoughts ought to be read by more people.

-“My works seem to be saying something completely different from what the free press are writing and the media are showing.The shallowness and the infantile nature of the social information conveyed by the mass and electronic media are the subject of my art. My illustrations refer to the tradition of the Polish school of poster art, a poster art which was philosophical, brief, economic to the verge of abstraction yet, at the same time, harbouring ambitions of a wider social resonance. There are symbolic pictures of an autobiographical and existential character. Autobiography became a shelter and a starting-point for my work.” (…)
-“Cartoon Art is a worldwide phenomenon, bringing cultures together with a universal appeal. Cartoon Art has the special quality of immediacy that is apparent in both the medium and the message. I clamour in this kind of art. I talk through my works.” (…)
-“In my art, I am talking about discord, human behaviour, like hatred, conflicts, treason and about other things, such as confidence and stream of love.. To the people looking at my pictures, I give pieces of one’s mind. But many of them don’t understand my works. Then I draw and paint on the subject of unintelligible world and stupidity...” (…)
-“ In today's world, in an age when traditional patterns are threatened by globalisation, when value hierarchies are being blurred by the dominant liberal ideology and when the autonomy and individuality of the artistic message is being undermined by advertisements, billboards, spots and clips, the individual artist's manual and craftsman like dexterity are in greater than ever demand for me. The painter's image is the counterweight to the stereotype proposed by the media, the counterweight to the virtual reality of the electronic media.” (…)
Marcin Bondarowicz
Here is what Marcin answered to me after I sent him the 2 portraits above :

"Thank you so much, Ben. You are a very talented painter. You are perfectly right on. It is one of your best works!!! I love it.

I find a double sense in that drawing. There are more symbols and contents, “substance”. It is a fantastic portrait. I just feel better when I see your great artwork. I come to legal force.

You show me my true face. It is a discovery of myself. You bring me undoubtedly happy. You are brilliant. Your drawing is like a narcotic. I watch it and watch and watch…

You uncovered my soul and give me joy. It is the best gift I ever get from a friend. Our portraits are permanent trance of our friendship.

They are unique like fingermark…


Marcin Bondarowicz studied at the Institute of Technology in Radom, Poland, in the Art faculty. He got diplomas in painting and graphic art.

Here are some of Marcin’s achievements and rewards :
-Leader of artistic set in 1991
-Rewarded by Rector for active work during study
-Prize winner in a competition for a poster connected with preventing drug habit and integration of local community
-Prize winner in a photo competition: International Year of The Family in 1994-2004, subject – „mother and a child” USA 2004
-The Nomination for the reward in the International Cartoon Competition “Satyrykon 2005” – category humor and social satire Poland
-The Special Award in BIRD2005 International Art Award CHINA
-The Bronze Prize in The 2nd WINE International Invitation Cartoon Exhibition CHINA 2005
-The Honourable Mentions in The International Competition of Graphic Humour FOR pro FOR
–2006 [Joke for For 2006 ] Praha, Czech Republic 2006

Marcin Bondarowicz has cooperated as an illustrator and sarcastic drawer with newspapers such as :

-Harvard Business Review Poland
-Business Week Poland
-Przegląd Podatkowy
-Puls Biznesu
-Gazeta Bankowa
-Dziennik Zachodni
-Integracja Europejska
-Nowy Robotnik
-Najwyższy CZAS
-Gazeta Samorządu i Administracji
-INPRECOR Correspondance de presse internationale
He has cooperated with Cartoon Agencies such as:
-J&J [Poland] [China]
-East News

A lot of his art works are in private collections in Poland and in foreign countries. Permanent exhibition of his art works and projects of posters can be viewed on :

More works by Marcin Bondarowicz can be viewed on :

-GALERIA (Painting)
-GALERIA (Illustration)

Contact :

adress: Żeromskiego 8 / 8 27-200 Starachowice:
Polandphone: 48 041 274 20 03
mobile: +48 692 431 219
+48 502 215 953

Ben Heine by Marcin Bondarowicz
September 2006
Thank you again dear Marcin,
You are a soulmate...

We are the-
Hope in the wind
The sound of boots
Upon the ear
Singing and marching
The whistle of bombs
Finest war machine in the history
Of the globe
Whistling triumphant
We are the-
Hope in the wind
The sound of boots
Upon the ear
Singing and marching
Rally cry of machine guns
Fiercest fighting machinery
In the world
Chanting triumphant
We are the-
Hope in the wind
The sound of boots
Upon the ear
Singing and marching

War on terror

A pixie gently alights upon the golden rail of dream
To plead for the world’s peace,
For leaders, kings and queens,
Presidents and ministers to hear.
“Heed well these words.
Peace, in this world, is yours if you want it.
Do not forsake your golden sway
Or forego the bright gift of their trust.”

Did the king answer?
The queen nod?
The president reply?
The minister bow?
What actions did speak for them?

With the plea now awash inside
The pixie flys away,
A shine of hope upon its wings.
The words echo for many days,
“...Peace, in this world, is yours if you want it.
Do not forsake your golden sway
Or forego the bright gift of their trust.”

When the words seek leaders eager to hear a prayer,
Does the king answer,
The queen nod,
The president reply,
The minister bow,
What actions speak for them?

Bush denies Iraq terror worsening, Communists targeted,
Taliban bomb attacks, Gaza a prison, Cluster bombs,
US extends deployment, 'Deaths' in protests, N. Korea Nixes Talks,
'They were celebrating beating us, behaving like criminals'

When tomorrow comes
Will the king answer,
The queen nod,
The president reply,
The minister bow,
What actions will speak for them?

Copyright © 2006 mrp / thepoetryman

See other poems by thepoetryman on :
The gleam of the swan
holds the world;
all sounds, all occasions,
all shades, all weepings
are the black swans.
See the full version of the latest work of thepoetryman:
Nuclear Love

David Baldinger

David Baldinger's autobiography

I was born in 1961 in Akron, Ohio. (...) I hated school. I just never fit in. I spent most of my time alone. I liked it that way and still do. I had terrible math difficulties that only brought on humiliation and abuse by some of the miserable teachers I was subjected to. My goal was to miss as much school as possible. I was much happier exploring the large amounts of woods that surrounded me at home. I was never happier than when I was sitting high in the branches of some tree listening to the birdcalls. I also had a broken down pony to spend time with. Calico was her name and I used to ride her like I saw some Native Americans did—with only a rope on her halter and bareback. For an old girl she was fast and I won many ribbons in local horse shows competing in racing and games. For a poor as we were I was never unhappy except at school.

David Baldinger at the age of 11

I was able to escape high school (ages 15 to 18) by going to a vocational school during the day. I entered a three-year Commercial Art program. From there it was just a natural progression to continue on to an Art school after graduating high school in 1979. My Mom and Dad divorced at this time and my Dad moved back to Pittsburgh to live with his mother. My Mom and I moved into an apartment in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t the best of places but we had a bathroom and hot water!

That year, when I started art school in September, I moved into my Grandmother’s attic. All I can write about that was it was tolerable. I had decent space and could ignore everyone else. I had a black and white television, a record player and a radio. I also hauled all of my art books in too. My Grandmother died in 1995, I think and my Dad died in 2004, both from cancer so I’ve got that most to likely look forward to.

"The Screamer" by David Baldinger

I wish I had more guidance back then about choosing a school but I was a member of the “Vo-Tech” kids so we weren’t expected to have higher aspirations. I just followed my other art classmates to The Art Institute Of Pittsburgh, a two-year visual arts school. I chose Visual Communications as my course of study. This was mainly advertising art with some basic photography thrown in. By my second year there, I knew I had no real interest in advertising art and enjoyed photography much more but I didn’t want to have to start all over again. Money was an issue also since I was limited to government grants to the poor for education. I was really disappointed by the school’s complete lack of interest in helping me explore cartooning. It was to be airbrush or watercolor images of products, type fitting and paste up or nothing. Looking back, I realize that I was being trained for the lowest form of art and to be a drawing table slave. I knew I had no interest in making pictures of toasters or slamming produce photos and prices on a page for supermarket ads.

(…) Once I graduated art school in 1982, I found myself desperate for work. After being rejected by most companies I applied for, including Hallmark Cards and American Greetings, I decided I could stand poverty no more and enlisted in the US Air Force. I had hoped for a decent job in the service but found myself stuck in P.O.L. (Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants) as a fuels specialist. My job was going to be a mobile gas station attendant for aircraft. Sure, it was a necessary job but deadly boring for me. The only good thing was being sent to England after basic training. I was stationed at RAF Mildenhall in East Anglia for two years. I loved England and its people. I loved not being in the USA. I loved taking weekend trips to London and I especially loved cider.
I met a nice Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) girl while there. Unfortunately, it didn’t go anywhere because she said her father hated Americans. Maybe she just didn’t like me all that much. I also developed a small crush on an adorable little girl from Scotland. Hazel was involved with my roommate at secretly hid out in our dorm room. That made for some interest times trying to ignore the various nighttime activities occurring in the bunk beneath me. My roommate was really horrible to her, I thought but I was shipped back to the States and was never able to do anything about it. The last I heard in 1985 was that she sold all of her belongings to pay to come to the US and be with him. When she arrived, wanted nothing to do with her, leaving her high and dry. What happened after that, I don’t know.
"The Beast" by David Baldinger

After the Air Force, I found myself right back where I started in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. First, I took some photography and video classes at a local college. Then I found a job making photographic prints for a very strange guy who made large aerial photographs for businesses. The guy was creepy in some way I couldn’t put my finger on. That didn’t last long but I was hired, luckily, by the local Community College as its Public Relations photographer. I really had no clue what I was doing but I threw myself into it and learned as I went along. It was very difficult at first because I am a very shy person and having to deal with the public gave me great panic attacks. I did this from 1989 to 1995.

I was married in 1990 and have a 19-year-old son who is a total guitar maniac. My wife is a wizard of everything. I don’t know of anything she is incapable of doing. She is an artist, an awesome quilter and textile artist. She is a fantastic cook and just the best at tearing stupid people a new asshole. She is a never ending river of information that just boggles my addled mind.
"The Marriage" by David Baldinger

In 1995, I became a news photographer for a small local rag. My job was mostly high school sporting events and old women holding signs announcing their upcoming church dinners or fundraisers. The hours were miserable and the pay pathetic so, after my car died for one last time, I quit. By then I had a family so I had to find work doing something. I then worked for a national office supply chain selling computers and electronics. Shortly after that, I was able to move back into the merchandise receiving department as the data entry person.

I attempted to teach photography a couple of times at the same Community College where I formerly worked but I just don’t have the temperament. I found the students uninspired, lazy and just plainly without talent. Technical skills can be learned but without an eye or artistic sense, it just seemed pointless. I turned one day from the chalkboard to find myself staring into a sea of blank faces and dull eyes. It was then I knew that teaching was not for me.

By 1999, I was so mind-numbingly bored I quit to work for one of the big home satellite television providers as a customer service representative. What a huge mistake that was. People calling in were horrible to deal with. I didn’t enjoy being screamed at for eight hours a day. I started taking Xanax to keep calm and ended up in the hospital. That was the end of that job.

In the hospital, I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar with chronic depression, anxiety and an attention deficit disorder. Subsequently, I was also diagnosed with Asperger syndrome that explained a lot about my miserable educational experience as a child and my horrible interpersonal skills as an adult. I suffer from a lot of unreasonable anxiety. I find it nearly impossible to read since I lose focus very quickly and forget what I just read. Constantly re-reading gets exhausting. I forget things so easily that I am compulsive about rechecking everything I’ve done. My wife gets mad because she will ask me direct questions and I find it impossible to verbalize a response. The cacophony of city noise overwhelms me. I am able to have more emotional contact with my cats than any person and that really upsets the wife. I can’t tolerate quickly changing routines. Panic sets in immediately. I have to work myself up to accepting anything new.

Not to let the whining about my physical problems get out of hand but I haven’t worked since 2000 in an actual job. To keep sane, I draw political cartoons and spot illustrations for The People’s Weekly World newspaper.
"Google Spy" by David Baldinger
I also recently acquired a nice digital camera and have been taking pictures again. To many years working in badly ventilated darkrooms has affected my lungs enough to keep me away from chemicals for good. I enjoy “meeting” cartoonists from around the world through my lifeline, the Internet. I don’t really get out away from my apartment much since I can’t walk around or stand up too much. August 30, 2005 I had a nerve stimulator implanted in my back and will soon have surgery again to replace the internal battery.


Reform of the wine industry
European Union farm ministers on Monday said they overwhelmingly support a profound reform of the continent's wine industry to tackle overproduction and increasing global competition.

"There was total agreement on the fact that we have a wine surplus, we have a crisis in the market and we are losing market share and therefore it is clear something needs to be done," said Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU's agriculture commissioner after a regular ministerial meeting.

Faced with such different scenarios to tackle the crisis, the one proposing "profound reform," said Finland's Agriculture Minister Juha Korkeaoja, "was supported by just about all member countries." The package under discussion should thoroughly change the way wine in marketed globally. Foremost, higher quality wines for which Europe is famous should be promoted. A scheme to grub up huge swathes of vineyards across Europe is at the heart of the reform to restore balance to the market.

There is talk of ripping out some 400,000 hectares, over 10 percent of the vineyards, but Boel refused to be pinned down on specifics. She stressed digging up vines would need to be done voluntarily. Yet she stressed it was necessary and dismissed criticism that farmers would be hurt too hard. "If we don't do anything we will cause huge social problems," she said.

The EU head office has said European taxpayers had to fork out €$150 million (US$190 million) this year to distill unsold wine into industrial alcohol or biofuel to prevent a surplus undermining wine prices. Meanwhile increasingly popular sales of wines from Australia, Chile, South Africa and other overseas producers could soon turn the EU into a net importer of wines.

Whatever the measures, French officials insisted any reform should have a proper "safety net" to make sure vintners don't face sudden ruin. Italian agriculture minister Paolo De Castro said the southern Mediterranean nations would stand united to fend off overly drastic changes. "We will continue to construct a Mediterranean alliance," he said.

Several nations backed the reforms. Ireland has pointed out that New World imports now account for 70 percent of its wine market and Britain has said Australia had recently overtaken France as Britain's main supplier, EU officials said.
Source :

Wine colors...

Learning the basics about wine and winemaking is useful because it allows you to (a) credibly evaluate the wines you taste and (b) impress your date.
What exactly is this stuff and why is everyone all up in arms about it? Wine isn't just high-octane grape juice. Making good wine is a process; if you don't believe us, try drinking some really cheap wine and you'll quickly learn why Monty Python claimed that it "opens the sluices at both ends." Fine wine involves taking a great grape vine, growing it in the right soil, ushering the grapes through the fermentation process, aging the wine properly, and releasing it at exactly the right time. In short, there are plenty of things to screw up. The English have been botching it for years.
There are four major types of wine: red, white, rose (or blush), and champagne. As far as dining is concerned, we're going to focus only on the first two types, since champagne is its own animal and most wine advisers recommend chilled rose only for a picnic on a hot day. And anything that comes in a can, a box, or a 40-ounce container isn't technically wine; it will be listed on the menu under the heading "Cheapskates."
What is wine?
Essentially, wine is fermented grape juice, but with some twists. God left us with a few remnants of Eden when he gave us the boot, and one of the best is the fact that any fruit containing sugar will turn to booze if you leave it to ferment. In the process of fermentation, yeast converts the sugar into alcohol. Yeast is found all over the place, and in the wild, it lands on the skins of grapes. And although grapes will ferment naturally, vintners nowadays don't take any chances. They labor over the precise strain of yeast to be used in their recipes, because different choices will lead to different results.
The ingredients
Most people believe that green grapes make white wine and red grapes make red wine. That is largely true, but you should know that white wine can also be made from red grapes. The inside of a red grape is essentially "white" - and most wines are made with just the inside of the grape. The red color in red wine is created by allowing the fleshy interior to mix with the pulpy skins during the crushing process, which infuses red wines with "tannin," an ingredient that gives red wine its distinctive flavor. So you can make white wine with red grapes - like White Zinfandel, a white wine made from a grape with a decidedly red exterior - but not red wine with green grapes. To top it off, most champagnes are made from red grapes. Weird, but true.
The process
The grapes are first crushed, with or without the skins, and then left to ferment. A disinfectant is used to neutralize any contaminants in the juice, such as mold and bacteria, that may have been on the grapes. The fluid, or "must," is then left to complete the fermentation process in either big steel vats or small wooden barrels. Fermentation in barrels requires a longer process and is harder to keep at the right temperature, but supposedly leads to a better finished product, for which you will, of course, end up paying more.
Once the wine is properly fermented, the vintner plucks out all the little nibblets, and then matures the clarified vino. The better vineyards age the wine for years in oak barrels, which infuses the wine with positive woody hints. The lamer vineyards shove the stuff in a steel vat just long enough for it to be squirted into bottles with plastic spigots.
Where the color comes from?
Color is one of the major distinguishing features of wine. The main difference between red and white wine is that the grape juice used to make red wine contains skins, seeds, and stems. This is significant because leaving juice to mix together with the woody bits (known as maceration) causes the finished product to contain something we briefly mentioned earlier - tannins. If the term "tannin" bugs you because you don't really understand it, just think about a strong cup of tea. That woody taste is tannin. In wine, it can lend a wonderful complexity to red varieties.
The rule
The reason you need to be aware of the differences between red and white wine is because of one of the oldest rules in fine dining: harmonize your food and drink. If you're going to be eating something delicate with subtle tastes, the Rule states that you should avoid drinking something with a strong flavor that will overshadow the food. Conversely, a hearty meal will often be best complimented by a strong wine with flavor of its own. But every single current guide to wine makes a point of saying that the Rule is out of date and the only hard-and-fast dictate of wine drinking is to choose something you enjoy.
The rationale behind the rule
Nevertheless, there's a reason that the Rule evolved in the first place: it makes sense. If, for example, you're trying to pick up on the vague hints of Caribbean brine that delicately caress the primo slice of sushi you just ordered, slurping a bowl of tequila isn't going to help. Balancing food with drink may not be required anymore, but it's a good tip to keep in mind. A specific corollary of the Rule is that white wines tend to go best with fish and white meats, like chicken and pork; red wines go best with red meat and red sauces.
Another adjunct to the Rule is that you should begin with lighter wines and progress to heavier ones throughout the course of the meal. This policy again reflects the idea that you should not overburden your palate: if you start with a strong drink, your taste buds will be shot and you won't be able to enjoy anything that comes after it. That is why aperitifs are typically light drinks and dessert liquids, like port, are rich and heavy.
One of the main distinctions - after red and white - that's bandied about by wine drinkers is whether a particular quaff is "sweet" or "dry." Though imagining how a fluid can be dry is something of a logical stretch, just bear in mind that dry is nothing more than the opposite of sweet, and we all know what sweet tastes like. A related factor is the weight of a particular type of wine, which refers to the amount of alcohol present in a given sample.
Reference :
Wine in Russia
The alcoholic drinks market in Russia has been one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the country and the industry is now heavily dependant on imports of wine, wine materials and spirits. Producers and distributors from around the world are becoming increasingly aware of Russia as an export market and, considering its current and projected growth rate, most industry professionals now view Russia as a vital part of any successful sales and marketing strategy.
According to Italian experts, sales of wine in Russia total about 700mn litres a year in volume, rates of the market growth - 8% and 15 in volume and in value respectively. Import occupies slightly more than 50% of the market or 380mn litres. Import of Italian wine products is growing steadily: EUR 17.8mn (US$ 22.47mn) in 2003, EUR 21mn (US$ 26.51mn) in 2004, EUR 31.5mn (US$ 39.76mn) in 2005.
In January 2006, cost of import increased almost three times, compared to index in January 2005, and amounted to EUR 3mn (US$ 3.79mn). Italy occupies 7% in the Russian market of wine import and is in the forth and the second places in volume in value respectively. Quoting Italian experts, 126 companies-importers of wine and alcoholic products operate in Russia, 16 largest companies control 65% of the market.
Reference :
Sebastian Kruger

Sebastian Kruger was born in Hamlin, Germany in 1963. He studied painting and graphic arts and quickly moved on to make his living as a caricaturist, illustrator, and painter. His primary medium is acrylic paint, and his caricatures are hyper-realistic in detail, yet also extremely grotesque in their distortion.
Kruger’s works are appreciated and collected by many Hollywood notables, and his painterly twists on Bogart, Schwarzenegger, John Wayne, The Rolling Stones, are classics of their kind.
Perhaps never before has an artist displayed such an acute ability to capture the essence of those who occupy the public eye. Perhaps Kruger's most remarkable talent is his ability to bring diverse painting techniques and styles to a given subject.
Kruger's works range from pencil drawings, to near abstract paintings and then to the near photo realistic, and he has mastered each difficult variant with remarkable aplomb. Though the foundation of most caricature may rest in the exaggeration of the certain of the subjects features, Kruger often ignores the obvious, and focuses on more subtle aspects, still conveying the essence of his subject in a most profound and amusing fashion.
Despite such exaggerations and maniacal morphs, Kruger approaches nearly all of his subjects with a level of respect and sincerity. His goal is to reach inside of them and pull out the very essentials of their character. This requires a certain empathy on the part of the artist, as well as the requisite artistic skills.
Sebastian Kruger has had three popular art books published of his works and has a yearly art calendar from Morpheus. Kruger's art can be seen frequently in Playboy magazine and has also been featured in the likes of Stern, L’Espresso, Penthouse, and Der Spiegel and USA Today. He has recently been working on select motion picture projects.
Sebastian Kruger will organize a workshop from the 16th of October until the 22nd of October at the Hotel Mercure Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany .
Mick Jagger by Kruger
The Personality Portraits of Sebastian Krüger
By David Willson
( This article was published in the VALUERICH Magazine)

Here is is the power of Sebastian Kruger's work : to bring personalities alive on paper. The 43-year-old German illustrator has had a career of superlatives, illustrating for many of the high circulation magazines of the world - Rolling Stone, USA Today, Playboy, L'Espresso, Der Spiegel, Stern and others. He has a cult following of artists, writers, musicians and publishers. His, rather expensive, limited edition annual calendars sell out to devoted fans in advance. His original paintings and limited edition prints are owned by a Who's Who list of rock musicians, movie stars and serious art collectors.

Kruger fanatically buries himself into the life’s work and ephemera of each subject so that he might channel their essence into the heady mixture of wash, pencil and impasto that are his illustrations. He leaves no stone unturned. For an illustration about Steve McQueen, Kruger referred to his own personal McQueen library. “I have a DVD collection of almost his whole works — movie books and everything,” says Krüger. “So I was on the same wavelength with Steve McQueen when I painted him as Carter ‘Doc’ McCoy in Sam Pekinpah’s The Getaway.”

Kruger takes all of that background information and uses his prodigious imagination to lose himself in the alternative universe of his subject. “ I feel sometimes like an actor,” he says. After a day of work in his studio, his wife Andrea will often ask him, “How was your day today?” And he will say something like, “today I was Jimi Hendrix’s shirt.”

Perhaps it is this obsessive process that enables him to paint his subjects with such honest clarity and vision. Take, for instance, his painting of Laurel and Hardy. What other illustrator would show only the back of their heads? But as soon as you see it, you know that it is the perfect statement. There they sit — mute and monumental — facing the grey past, an imposing bridge between the theatrical beginnings of the silent film era and modern cinema. Using only their iconographic silhouettes, Kruger takes us tantalizingly close to their bygone era and leaves the rest to our imagination — leading us to supply our own emotional input as to how significant their influence still is today.
Arnold Schwarzenegger by Kruger

From Bogart to Brando, John Wayne to Jimi Hendrix, Stallone to Schwarzenegger — each Kruger caricature exists on multiple levels; as an illustration, as a visually explosive portrait and as a visual tone poem. This is what makes him more than just a talented caricaturist with great technique — and one of the world’s most sought after illustrators. Many of Kruger’s caricatures have been recognized as classics in their own right.

Kruger has been illustrating professionally for twenty years. He lives and works in a forest near Hanover, Germany, with Andrea, two cats and two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. His home is the oldest forest ranger’s house in Lower Saxony. “It’s a good quiet place to work and be a strange artist,” he chuckles.

Intense Insight

When he calls himself a “strange artist,” he is quite possibly referring to the disturbing elements that appear in his work — jarring distortions, dark or kinky humor and a frequent single eye that seems to exist in another dimension. The single eye often glows with primitive hunger, rage and sex — an id eye.

“I like the dark side of people’s character,” Kruger says in English that, while halting, is easier on the ears than Schwarzenegger’s. “Or I like to find out if there is a dark half. I like painting people like Vincent Van Gogh, William S. Burroughs, Keith Richards or even Marilyn Monroe. These people are very special to me. I feel very close to them. I’m very bored with all these entertainers with white teeth — where everybody is in good health and is so nice — I kind of don’t like it!” he laughs.

“Every now and then I see a movie or a photo that stops me and I say, ‘Yeah, this is what I have to do next’ ... Willie Nelson, Chris Kristopherson, Burton and Taylor together maybe. This is what I am interested in.”

And then there are the Rolling Stones. Kruger has made a personal project out of the Rolling Stones. Entire books, calendars and fine art print editions have been published on Kruger’s Rolling Stones work alone. He has traveled with the band and become close friends with the band and become close friends with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, who is an accomplished artist in his own right.

“I always liked the idea of being a musician, but there is just space for one big thing in my brain,” says Kruger. “So I had to make that decision. I am a painter. When I hang out with Keith or Ronnie, I sometimes feel like I am a musician, too — but without an instrument.”

Once when Kruger visited Wood at his home and art studio, they got to playing with some sunglasses and put them on Wood’s dog Chanel. They thought Chanel probablywould shake them off right away. Instead the dog got into it, kept the glasses on and even wouldn’t let them take them off later. The episode turned into a late night photo session and eventually ended up as a Kruger painting entitled Chanel. Kruger also has a special affinity for Richards. They get together on an annual basis. “Every time I see him I think he has grown a new wrinkle,” he laughs.

“Whenever I do a painting of Keith, the more I go realistic with it, the closer I come to his real character,” muses Kruger. “Jagger is very easy to draw or paint as a caricature, or a little more exaggerated. It doesn’t matter. It won’t bring me away from his character. But in the case of Keith, I have found that there is a problem unless I do it realistically.”
Elvis Presley by Kruger

Sebastian Krüger’s limited edition prints and originals have only been offered in American galleries for about six months, but with phenomenal success. Danny Stern of the Limelight Agency, Krüger’s American representatives, says he’s never seen anything like it. “His editions sell very quickly. They outstrip even Warhol and Haring,” Stern says.

Dewey Graff of Dewey Graff Fine Arts, Inc., further attests to the popularity of Kruger’s work and the quality of the Giclée editions. “I ran an ad for the Rolling Stones 40 X 40 suite by Kruger in the Robb Report,” says Graff. “Ninety percent of the people that called in from the ad actually ended up purchasing the suite — and almost all of my customers who have purchased it have called me again to say, ‘I can’t believe how good they look.’'

According to Stern at Limelight, half of the four-paneled 40 X 40 edition sold out within the first two months of its release. The price for the remaining copies quickly jumped from $6,500 to $10,500. When original paintings are available, they can bring six figure prices. Kruger’s painting of Keith Richards entitled Captain Keith recently sold for $125,000.

Limelight is currently planning an American tour for Kruger that will take place sometime in the fall of 2006. The tour will include galleries in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with possible appearances in Maui, Scottsdale and other locations.

Kruger’s limited edition prints are selected and reproduced from popular commissioned work, and the 40 X 40 suite was no exception. “A client asked me to do a group portrait of the Rolling Stones. And he said make it big and kind of realistic, maybe exaggerated but in a realistic style,” explains Kruger. “I looked for group photos, where all four were together in one picture, and started an ordinary group portrait.

“But then I became bored with it, because it was simply too ordinary. Whatever I do when painting the Stones must be a challenge. So I broke it up and started over as a montage, with every single Stone in a different atmosphere: Charlie is somewhere on the road, Mick is in the photo studio, Keith is on stage and Ronnie is in his garden. They all have different characters, so every Stone got their own space. I thought it was a good idea. People think of it as four paintings, but it’s really one complete work.”

The Luxury of Fame

When asked how he feels about the incredible early acceptance of his work in America, Kruger says, “It makes me very happy. But all I do is try to be as honest as possible with my paintings. I don’t have to change my way of working just for success. I wouldn’t like that.

“I am in a position now where I can do what I call ‘my real work’ and be successful with it — and this is great,” he says. “I quit doing commissions in Germany, caricatures and illustrations, because I did it for a very long time and it made me very unhappy to discuss details with so-called art directors who were even younger than me and thought they knew a lot about my work, and faces and stuff

“I want to depart sometimes from just doing portraits of celebrities,” continues Kruger. “I found some old photos of me when I was a little boy playing with my toys while I was being watched by my father. I found these pictures very interesting. I got some ideas to work with them immediately. It’s not necessary that people know the little boy in the painting is me.” He laughs, “It will be fun to paint a little boy and know that it’s myself.”

When we spoke with him, Kruger was putting the finishing touches on the cover painting for a book of poetry by British publishing mega-mogul Felix Dennis. The commission originally was for doing the interior illustrations for the book, but evolved into the cover art as well. A commissioned painting of Slash, the guitarist from Guns N’ Roses — another musician friend — was slated to go on his easel next.

Though the focus of his career may be shifting away from mundane commercial illustration to a more sophisticated art customer, Kruger remains booked well in advance. It appears that there will be plenty of new work coming to satisfy his many fans in Europe, and now America.
Sebastian Kruger

Is Democracy Dying in the West?
Text by Philip S. Golub (*)
Democracy in the West may now be more formal than real. Even before the events of 11 September 2001, the heads of state in the United States and Britain concentrated and consolidated executive power and tried to constrain judicial autonomy.

The concentration of executive power has been accompanied by a marginalisation of countervailing powers and, in Britain and the US, by a fundamental questioning of the institutional balance on which liberal democracy is based. The appropriation and concentration of power increased apace with the advent of the war on terror and the state of exception, which have determined the parameters of reality since 2001.

A move to presidentialise British institutions, already apparent under Margaret Thatcher (prime minister 1979-90), has accelerated under the premiership of Tony Blair. Over the past few years, his effort to erode parliamentary prerogatives has been coupled with a parallel drive to constrain judicial autonomy. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes mandatory and minimum sentences, reducing judges' discretion to fit the punishment to the individual case; the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 allows the home secretary to restrict individuals' liberty on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities, with minimal judicial oversight; the Inquiries Act 2005 restricts the independence of judges appointed to chair inquiries, allowing ministers to decide what evidence can be given in public and to block disclosure.

Under the new anti-terror laws, habeas corpus, Britain's oldest and most important protection of individual rights before the state, is threatened. Parliament passed all these measures, but the Lords refused to endorse the legislative and regulatory reform bill of 2006, which would have greatly expanded the sphere of sovereignty of the executive. Under cover of an innocuous technical reform, the bill was designed to give ministers arbitrary powers, by allowing laws to be passed by a minister's order, bypassing parliament altogether. Parliament would in effect have been voting itself out of substantive, if not formal, existence. Faced with resistance from the Lords, who were not disposed to vote for their own dissolution, Downing Street amended the "bill to abolish parliament," as critics called it.

The executive may have been forced to back down on this occasion, but Blair has done much to deconstruct British democracy. As the journalist Henry Porter wrote, he is doing "great damage to the constitution, the tradition of parliamentary sovereignty, to the independence of the judiciary, to individual rights and to the delicate relationship between the individual and the state."

None of this is entirely surprising, given a prime minister who believes that only God will judge his acts, and a government that has extolled liberal imperialism and the need "to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th century."
In the United States, the scope of the democratic retreat has been breathtaking. Under the guise of an undeclared state of emergency, the Bush administration has been methodically tearing down the constitutional order. As frequent revelations of torture, secret prisons and large-scale domestic spying show, government by secret decree and presidential whim has become normal practice.

In well-screened secrecy, the administration has granted itself vast extra-legal powers: the power to break international treaties, violate conventions and engage in preventive wars; the power to kidnap, torture and indefinitely detain without trial anyone identified by executive fiat as an illegal combatant; the power to create a parallel secret judiciary system under direct Pentagon and White House control; the power to override the existing domestic and international legal order.

This seizure of absolute power through the incremental disempowerment of other branches of government has met some institutional resistance: In December 2005 the U.S. Senate at long last took action to prohibit the "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment of detainees, through the Detainee Treatment Act. The Supreme Court defeated the president this July by ruling that the special military tribunals established by the White House at Guantánamo were illegal.

The executive has found or is trying to find a way round the problem: The Senate abdicated to insistent White House pressure by inserting new words into the Detainee Treatment Act that not only nullify its effect but could open the way for the legalisation of torture, and of the use in U.S. courts of testimony obtained through torture.

On 30 December, only a few days after the Senate vote, President George Bush reasserted that his "powers as commander in chief and as the head of the unitary executive branch" (the latter a reference to a legal doctrine affirming the absolute primacy of the executive over the legislature and the judiciary) allowed him to do "whatever was necessary to defend America." That prompted Senator Edward Kennedy to warn that "whatever the law of the land, whatever Congress might have written, the executive branch [claims] the right to authorise torture without fear of judicial review."

The White House is also trying to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling on military tribunals by "legalising illegal actions (in a new law passed by Congress)", to quote the New York Times. The purpose is "to undermine the constitutional separation of powers."

The will to power was there before the events of 11 September 2001. "Clearly even without these attacks," noted a scholar of the presidency, "the Bush administration would have acted unilaterally whenever it could, consistently pushing the boundaries of presidential power." After the attacks, the president was transfigured into an American Caesar; dissent was silenced by fear and the mobilisation of nationalist sentiment.

The usual constraints liftedThe usual domestic constraints in a democratic society on the arbitrary use of coercive state power were lifted. This is apparent in the torture memos drafted in 2002 by the present attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, which affirmed the constitutional power of the president to use whatever means necessary in wartime, including acts overriding international law, in the accomplishment of his mission as commander-in-chief. "On this reasoning," wrote the jurist David Cole, "the president would be entitled by the constitution to resort to genocide if he wished."

This process negates the founding principles of classical liberalism: the diffusion of power and the establishment of constitutional safeguards protecting the individual from arbitrary coercive action by the state.

As Montesquieu, Locke and other early democratic political philosophers argued, the separation of powers constrains rulers (be they constitutional monarchs or elected executives) and thereby guarantees, according to Montesquieu, the "tranquillity" that is the political liberty of the individual; the second is secured thanks to the first. In theory, these constitutionally defined barriers to absolutism or tyranny create institutionalised norms from which rulers can only deviate in exceptional circumstances and then only for a circumscribed period of time. In time-limited conditions of emergency or necessity such as war, rulers of democratic states may suspend parts of the law but not the constitutional order itself. In liberal theory the state of emergency (the "prerogative power" of the ruler, in Locke's work) is an exception designed to save the norm - the constitutional order.

In a permanent state of emergency, the exception becomes the norm. In the early 20th century, the state of exception and emergency rule were defined by the reactionary German political theorist Carl Schmitt. He argued that the state, as the highest expression of the political, discovers its true essence only in situations of emergency when "it chooses the enemy and decides to combat him."

That choice generates collective meaning, unifies the nation, depoliticises civil society and concentrates power. The state of emergency allows the state to transcend society and establish dictatorial autonomy. Having acquired the monopoly of political action and decision, the state, embodied by the dictator who decides the exception and by so doing becomes truly sovereign, enjoys limitless powers, the most important of which is the power to override or crush the existing legal order. Since war is the purest form of the state of emergency, war becomes the ontological foundation of the state.

Today the deconstruction of the constitutional order is happening in the context of a ubiquitous and timeless war that the United States executive (and by extension its allies) has framed from the start as having no spatial or temporal boundaries. The 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States described the U.S. "vulnerability to terrorism" as a "new condition of life." This implies that perpetual warfare has become the early 21st century way of life. The Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review describes the "long war" led by the US as "a struggle that [will] be fought in dozens of countries simultaneously and for many years to come." The White House's 2006 National Security Strategy, which reaffirms the core elements of the 2002 strategy (officially endorsing the doctrine of preventive war), asserts that the United States "is in the early years of a long struggle, similar to what our country faced in the early years of the cold war."
As the philosopher Judith Butler points out, "the prospect of an exercise (of lawless state power) structures the future indefinitely. The future becomes a lawless future, not anarchical, but given over to the discretionary decisions of a set of designated sovereigns."

These sovereigns rule by appealing to fear, mobilising nationalist sentiment and playing on deep racial and ethno-religious prejudices. The operations of a small de-territorialised terrorist organisation have been represented not as the circumscribed danger they are but as a global totalitarian threat akin to that posed by Hitler. On 16 October 2005 Bush claimed that extremists were seeking to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." Two days later his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, told the council on foreign relations in New York that "al-Qaida hopes to rally the Muslim masses, overthrow the moderate governments of the region, and re-establish the Islamic caliphate thatŠ would rule from Spain to Indonesia and beyond."

This grotesque inflation of the power of al-Qaida, like the White House's warnings about "mushroom clouds" in the aftermath of 9/11, would be cartoonish if it did not serve to mask the authoritarian aims of the state. This is a dangerous game, fuelling existential hatreds: The pluralist culture of Islam is reduced to a single amorphous mass, alien, barbarian and hostile. The "clash of civilisations" is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The ideological landscape is no healthier in Europe, where racism translates into generalised suspicion against immigrant communities. In France, urban riots, rooted in longstanding social neglect and institutionalised exclusion, were hastily dismissed and denounced by many as ethno-religious assaults on national identity. The executive responded by unearthing colonial emergency law and declaring a state of siege. These measures are a sorry comment on the state of the culture and the culture of the state.

In the history of the liberal state, emergency rule was most often used in colonial contexts. During its centuries-long apprenticeship in colonial despotism, to use Hannah Arendt's words, the West created concentration camps and reintroduced torture (abandoned under the influence of the Enlightenment). Slavery differentiates the United States and European experiences: Europe exported its violence abroad, US despotism was applied within.

As recent apologists for colonialism and imperialism remind us, this past has never really disappeared. Anti-colonialist memories are still fresh in France: Article 4 of the law of 23 February 2005 adopted by the French parliament, recognising "France's work" in its colonies, led to such protest that it had to be repealed by decree a year later.

In France and elsewhere, authoritarianism and the colonial spirit are once again closely united in those who advocate and practise emergency rule. The subtext of official discourse is that to protect ourselves from the barbarians we need an authoritarian state; to preserve our lives we need to give up our freedoms.

(*)Philip S Golub is a journalist and lecturer at the University of Paris VIII.
© 2006 Philip S Golub
This article was first published in Le Monde diplomatique (September 13, 2006). Republished at PEJ News with Agence Global permission.
After 9/11
(12/09/06 - Ben Heine)

(12/09/06 - Ben Heine)

(12/09/06 - Ben Heine)

(12/09/06 - Ben Heine)
The following poems are the powerfull works of thepoetryman
Thump Thump Thump

(Image : 2006-Ben Heine)

Anybody's monologue

You ever heard dat fools rush in?
Well dat ain’ all dey do.
Fools rush in wearin’ dey glarin’ teef, ya see?
“Clatter click click clatter click clatter clatter”.
Dey fine demselves naked `n shivrin’.
Dey laugh, “heh heh heh…”
Dey don’ care!Hell no dey don’!
Dey don’ tink it matter!

Dis, “heh heh heh”,
dis ain’ no Mista Magoo laughin’.
Uh uh.
Ain’ no laugh of no inconsequential man, neither!
An' it ain' no chuckle o' no blather-sprung chicken!
No, siree! Lordy be! No way. No how...Uh uh…

Dat be de laugh of de nudge-n-wink man.
De laugh of a fella done stumble in
`n tooked de goddamn oath!
Whoooo! Sho’ `nuf!

More like de sumbitch confiscate `at sucka!
Sworn to de highes’ bureau o’ dis mighty lan’!
Oh my did’n he ever!
On de bible he place dat grimy-no-good han’
`n swore he’d not fornicate it never...
He swore t’ God above he did…
Uh huh…

Now look what he done gone `n did…
Umm ummm…

It funny, ya know…
Shore is, `cuz he had not one smidgen
of `n iota of a split millisecon’ flea’s ass
what de hell it meant!
Nudge-n-a-wink he did. Nudge-n-a-wink…

Heh heh heh,
dat’s de laugh of a empty-headed scamp
stretch taut o’ hubriss'rounded by a unruly horde
o’ well dressed, warmongerin-sycophant!
"Yes, Missa President! Yes, dear leada!
No doubt `bout it, George!
Yessa, in a whiz! Couldn’ `gree more!
Right `way, sir! Bomb Iraq it is!"

Forget all dat understandin’ o’ de world!
Forget diplomacy! Forget de facts!
“Yessir! Right `way, sir! Yessssssssssa!

Lordy! What de hell dat?
Nuttin, `merica,
Go on back t’ sleep.
Dat’s right. Close dem eyes.

Sendin’ little babies flyin’ t’ heaven…
Sad like de sky a fallin’ kinda sad, ya know?

Forget diplomacy long’s George `roun'!
Nuance ain’t fo’ dat frat boy
knee-deep-steep in `is own shit!

“Beer coolies fo’ everyone!
Duct tape `n gasmasks!
Water bongs `n apple pie!
Time t’ clear some brush!
Time t’ whistle fo’ de dog
`n drive `round in m’ truck!”

Goddamn fools we be!
Andy, Barney `n Otis
rolled tighter `n a crazie eddie!

Purple rain come down on de Buda-war!
Regular shootin’ gallery!
Daytrippin’ in de West Wing!
What goddamn fools we be!Heh heh heh
…Jonesin’ a fix in Irack!

Jonesin’. Mouth workin’ de country.
Quada done reemed `im,
ripped de paper bag.

Thump, thump, thump go de bible
Lock `n load go de sarge,
`n "Give me ten.
Ten boy and ten girl.

Cut `em in half `n give me twenny!"
Body packin’ God’s drug to de cube skied dreamer!
Either ya pass `em `roun’ `n ingest `em,
`r ya kick de cowboy junkie out o’ de big house,
`cause dis here world’s `bout ta end…

Poem copyright © 2006 mrp / thepoetryman September 07, 2006



March Bang Bomb

(Image : 2006-Ben Heine)

march march march

bomb bomb bomb

work work work

bang bang bang

enslave yourself

to mankind’s bane

march march march

onward now

in rhythmic chains

stepping now

forward once

then twice back

bomb bomb bomb

truth now split

hope gone flat

march march march

toward the tower

toward your god

work work work

this; our drum,

it must not stop!

bang bang bang

bomb bomb bomb

march march march

march march march

march march march...

Poem copyright © 2006 mrp / thepoetryman September 03, 2006




What of Your Lessons

(Image : 2006-Ben Heine)

Weathered bureaucrats, old men, what will you leave us?

You might be right in your warring when men go mad,

But what of your feeding, your strategy, your lessons?

What might we say that you’ve fastened upon our backs?


You erected the walls and wept for many a perished soul,

You lobbed and thrust your fury against tyranny’s door,

And sent brave guns mounted of triumph over destruction;

But why didn’t you build a path leading out of empty war?


Had you known would you have laid stones along their way?

Took note of burning landmarks in front of each rifle’s aim?

Sang of peace instead of war, love songs instead of anthems?

Stayed home creating love, instead of a tide you couldn’t stem?


War is human; it just doesn’t send its own children to do the killing.

Poem copyright © 2006 mrp / thepoetryman July 20, 2006





(Image : 2006-Ben Heine)

First bloom





Folded pain

Given thee…

A plea…

A grasp…

A hope…

A bomb…


An unfurrowed pain…

An offering to thee








Take this tree, gOD…

Take this flower…

Crush this stone…

This father…

This mother…

Arid land…


We are

In your image





Poem copyright © 2006 mrp / thepoetryman August 01, 2006




Quintilis Bound

(Image : 2006-Ben Heine)

It begins:

A statue falls upon tyranny

with great noise!

Its echo swaggers,

“mission accomplished”…


a leader’s sons killed,

a vision most stark,

creating, again,

a most thickset brilliance;

freedom’s clang!


Clang went the bell

across the world's relief;

a government installed

and democracy

does bind its roots

`round a palm tree.


Iraqi born rebellion

stares back in disbelief

at its darkened final throe.


Another leader slain,

collateral blue sky leapt,

a world wheezing,alive,

stunned in death.


Road-side bombs doubled,

slash, rip, bang!

Numbers unfathomable,

America’s in trouble.


Insurgency rage shrieks

strung `round detonation,

it’s coming asunder,

slash, rip, thunder!

Civil war's been rolling

a year or more,

a rough translation.


Quintilis bursting in

thirty-five hundred!

Caesar Augustus!

Clang, tolled the bell

across the world

as a statue fell

upon tyranny...

It ends.

Poem copyright © 2006 mrp / thepoetryman August 19 2006