Saint Petersburg: Vladimir Putin cradles a
fragile chick, hugs his dog and lets a tear roll down his
cheek in an exhibition of kitsch paintings that opened this
week after his re-election to the Kremlin.
The oil paintings aim to show a softer side of the Russian
strongman, the artist said as the exhibition titled "A Man
with a Heart of Gold" opened in Putin`s northwestern home city
of Saint Petersburg.
"I wanted to create human portraits of Vladimir Putin that
provoke good feelings," painter Alexei Sergiyenko said.
Putin has built up a macho image with stunts including
riding bare-chested and shooting a wild Siberian tiger with a
tranquiliser dart, but seemingly allowed himself to show
emotion after he won a third Kremlin term this month.
One painting focuses on the tear that glistened on Putin`s
cheek as he gave a victory speech to flag-waving crowds on
election day. To some, it was a sign that the hardman had
feelings too, but Putin later blamed the wind.
"I prefer to believe that his tears came from his
feelings," said Sergiyenko, who describes himself as a Putin
In other brightly coloured pop art style paintings, Putin
carries a small boy on his shoulders, cycles through the
countryside with young women and holds a bunch of flowers.
Some reproduce Putin`s cuddlier photo opportunities,
including a visit to an agricultural show when he held up a
chick in his manicured fingers and stared it in the eyes.
He is also shown receiving an affectionate lick from his
labrador retriever Connie, who became sufficiently well known
during Putin`s presidency to have her "own" weekly column in a
The exhibition of 12 paintings runs to March 29 in
The Saint Petersburg artist says on his website that his
paintings are already in the collection of the presidential