Rustic sculpture of Melania Trump unveiled near Slovenian home town

A life-size rough wooden sculpture of United States First Lady Melania Trump was unveiled near her home town of Sevnica in south-eastern Slovenia last Friday. 	Commissioned by Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey and carved with a chainsaw by loc
REUTERS

A life-size rough wooden sculpture of United States First Lady Melania Trump was unveiled near her home town of Sevnica in south-eastern Slovenia last Friday.

Commissioned by Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey and carved with a chainsaw by local folk artist Ales Zupevc, the statue serves, perhaps, as a wry accompaniment to Downey's exhibition in the capital Ljubljana, exploring Mrs Trump's roots in the small Alpine country.

The blocky, rustic figure was cut from the trunk of a living linden tree - whose base forms a tall plinth - in a field beside the Sava River in the village of Rozno, 8km from Sevnica.

There is no attempt at an accurate likeness, to the point where the gallery in Ljubljana appears uncertain how seriously to take the statue. "Perhaps we are simply trying vigorously to make sense of things that might only be a slapstick prank," it says in a leaflet. "Who knows?"

Although the statue's face is rough-hewn and unrecognisable, the figure is shown clothed in the pale blue wraparound coat that Mrs Trump wore at her husband Mr Donald Trump's inauguration as US president in January 2017.

Downey said he wanted to "have a dialogue with my country's political situation" and highlight Mrs Trump's status as an immigrant married to a President sworn to reduce immigration. The sculptor, known as Maxi, was born in the same hospital as Mrs Trump, in the same month, and now mostly works as a pipe-layer.

"Let's face it," he says in a short film being shown as part of the exhibition, "she owns half of America while I have nothing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2019, with the headline 'Rustic sculpture of Melania Trump unveiled near Slovenian home town'. Print Edition | Subscribe