I think a great deal about what it means to be an artist.
I reflect on the elaborate psychological mechanisms required to pursue something so elusive, so ambiguous. I often wonder: ‘Am I talking to myself?’
I don’t make work for other people, but as an artist, I need to be in dialogue with the world that exists beyond my overpopulated cranium. I’ve concluded that to be effective-to be functional-I must guzzle an eye-popping cocktail of delusion and narcissism.
It occurred to me that being an artist is a great deal like being a dictator.
Just like a dictator, I must live in a closed loop of self-delusion. A place where my words and ideas always ring true. A gilded daydream of grandiosity. There can be no room for doubt. I must be convinced that I have something vital to say. I must believe that the world is waiting in keen anticipation to hear my message.
For my palette, I’ve copied pre-existing dictatorial art. Paintings from North Korea, statues of assorted dictators (Kim Il Sung, Laurent Kabilla, and Saddam Hussein). I had these works re-created in China, and each instance, I’ve replaced the great leaders with myself.
Phillip Toledano, 2011
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