A Winnie the Pooh painting depicting police violence has stirred significant controversy in local law enforcement.
A contentious painting by artist, Magnus Juliano, at the Cincinnati Art Museum has piqued disapproval from local law enforcement, who have requested the painting be removed from its exhibit.
The painting comes from a larger exhibition titled, Black & Brown Faces: Paying Homage To. The artwork is exhibited by Paloozanoire, an institution focused on “enriching the lives of people of colour through the Midwest in the areas of creativity, corporate leadership, and entrepreneurship.”
The disputed painting shows Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, and Eeyore. In the artwork, Winnie the Pooh is handcuffed face down in a pool of blood. Piglet stands behind him in police garb, pointing a gun at Pooh. Tigger stands in front of Winnie the Pooh holding a sign that reads, “off the pig.”
Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils told Cincinnati News:
“It absolutely is mind-blowing to me that we’re there. That we’re there in society, that that can be seen as artwork. It makes no sense.”
Hils, despite his belief in the freedom of speech, has requested the museum remove the artwork.
“I’m taking advantage of my freedom of speech and saying take that down,” he said.
Hils interprets the painting as communicating “cops are murderers, which I know that is a total fabrication and a total lie.” He continued to say that Tigger’s sign reading, “off the pig”, is “suggesting cops be killed. Now I’m getting angry again. That to me is unbelievable.”
In response to the backlash, the Cincinnati Art Museum released a statement on Wednesday: “Paloozanoire intended for this exhibition to bring the community together through conversations about challenging topics.
“This partnership supports Cincinnati Art Museum’s mission as an institution: through the power of art, we contribute to a more vibrant Cincinnati by inspiring its people and connecting our communities.
“We fundamentally opposed any violence against police or community members. We believe that free expression is foundational in dialogues and community partnership.”
Hils sternly advocated otherwise: “That painting was made to divide. Any conversation that starts is a divisive conversation, and it serves no other purpose…
“I would like it if the art museum took it down. I don’t want the state, aka the police, to take it down out of authority to take it down, I want reasonable thinking people to reconsider and take it down.”
Cincinnati news also took comment from Columbus-based artist, Magnus Juliano, who said about the painting: “Humanity is a joke right now if we’re more upset over a painting than police brutality; black people being hurt.”
This is not the first time that Winnie the Pooh has been a conduit for topical issues. The beloved bear has been used as a symbol of resistance for those opposing the Community Party in China, resulting in President Xi Jinping banning the 2018 film, Christopher Robin.
Winnie the Pooh is also the subject of a new horror film set to be released this year, titled, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.