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Artist creates black-faced portrait of Italian far-right politician Matteo Salvini

Current bid for re-imagined image of the controversial party leader stands at €45,000 in online auction

Salvini Nero (2020) by Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku © Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku

The Milan-based Congolese artist Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku has launched an online auction with only one work for sale: an image of the controversial politician Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, with a black face.

The project is timely as Salvini’s latest bid to seize power appears to have failed. In regional elections held this weekend, the League party looks set to be beaten in the key northern seat of Emilia-Romagna (exit polls showed a narrow win for the centre-left Democratic party). Salvini threatened to force early national elections if his party had secured victory.

The politician introduced hardline measures such as the closure of Italian ports to NGO (non-governmental organisation) vessels during his tenure last year as Italy’s minister of the interior. Salvini pulled his party out of office late last year, leaving the Democratic Party to form a coalition with the populist Five Star movement.

The online auction, due to run until 31 January, is “a provocation… sparking a debate in which the entire nation is invited to participate,” according to the artist. The current high bid stands at €45,000; part of the sale proceeds will go towards an NGO, Kanku says, adding that Salvini was initially enthusiastic about the initiative.

Salvini posted on Instagram that he “might take part in the auction, art—if this really is art—has no boundaries”. Kanku says though that “after Salvini found out that a portion of the proceeds would go to the NGO, he kept quiet”. Salvini could not be reached for further comment.