An original concept by Stewart Nicol Soutar, the Benevolent Dictator is a whimsical look at the state of socio politicalism in the world today. Stewart himself takes his eccentricities as part and parcel of his life and with an ironic nod creates a fantasy world on canvas and an enigmatic persona that walks to the streets in a manner that echoes the Dictator, although with the artist it’s more a twinkle in his eye and an enigmatic smile with a nod to his fans than a dictatorship, fun and whimsy over harsh reality.
The dictator himself, with his green cast and god-like status, floats above his city looking down upon a hodgepodge of alleys and lanes while his attention is set upon what is assumed to be his palace.
The muted tones of the town are offset by the stark red border that surrounds the painting like a wall. His own little kingdom, firmly ensconced and safe from outside influence we see a man who is above reproach in his own mind. Like many a political leader, he is clothed in the finest garments, the cloth with its diamond pattern hinting at jester or harlequin, a joke figure with his head in the clouds and a crown on his head, the dictator could easily be mistaken for a despot or even a president in the world today with no clue as to the woes of his people living above them in elegant surroundings and fine clothing, a leader whose vision clouds his sight, blind to the real world below.
This neo-political surrealist piece captures the almost childlike, semi-comical side of the upper echelons of political power, a tongue in cheek irreverent swipe at the world leaders.
While they feast and clothes themselves in silks and gold, the people live cheek to jowl and live to serve.