“FRIENDS, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet - there is where the bullet went through - and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I can not make a very long speech, but I will try my best.” - Theodore Roosevelt, “Progressive Cause Greater Than Any Individual”, speech given just after an assassination attempt by John Flammang Schrank on October 14, 1912
Titled “Rawhide Down” – after the code used on March 30th 1981 by secret service agents to signal that Ronald Reagan had been shot by John Hinckley Jr. – the show consists of paintings depicting state leaders and political figures who have been the subject of assassinations and assassination attempt by shooting. These figures of authority have been shot by assassins (or would be assassins) for reasons that exist on multiple points on a scale of rationality and mental illness. Einarsson’s portraits are based on idealized images, appropriated from various cartoons, of each of the state leaders. Despite coming from different historical eras and countries and to some extent ethnic backgrounds the faces blend together to a kind of non identifiable middle-aged powerful Caucasian man – a non specific face of (perceived) repressive power. With the distance added by the secondhand depiction through a found image and the cartoonish flatness of the way the paint is applied, the paintings are intended not as portraits-as-psychological-study. They are less about the character depicted and more about what these characters represent to the person who goes to the step of making the decision to assassinate them. These portraits become less about an individual person and more about how this powerful public figure is perceived by the world at large and by the shooter in particular – an abstraction away from humanity that would presumably be necessary in order for the shooter to pull the trigger.