Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles street artist who won international acclaim for creating the popular "Hope" poster that became the image of President Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was reportedly assaulted last weekend at the opening of his exhibition at a gallery in Copenhagen.
Fairey, The Guardian reported, was punched and kicked by two men who called Fairey "Obama illuminati" and told him to "go back to America." Fairey was with his colleague Romeo Trinidad outside the Kodboderne 18 nightclub early in the morning of Aug. 6.
"I have a black eye and a bruised rib," Fairey told the paper, going on to say that he believed the attack was prompted by a mural he painted commemorating the demolition of the legendary "Ungdomshuset" (youth house) that has sparked controversy in recently.
Fairey's mural, painted on a building adjacent to the vacant site, has a dove flying above the word "peace" and the number "69," the building's address. But the artwork didn't go over well with all of Copenhagen, the Guardian said, as it appeared to tear open old wounds; critics accused Fairey of peddling government-funded propaganda.
"The city council is using the painting -- directly or indirectly -- to decorate the crater-like lot at Jagtvej 69," said local activist Eskil Andreas Halberg in a letter to Modkraft, a leftwing news Web site. "The art is being used politically to end the conflict in a certain way: 'We're all friends now, right?'"
Within days of the mural's completion, vandals defaced it. "No peace" and "go home, Yankee hipster" were written across the wall. And while Fairey has reworked the vandalized half -- the new version now contains images of riot police and explosions with a new slogan that: "Nothing forgotten, nothing forgiven" -- he told the paper that the piece was never intended to be considered propaganda.
"It looked to the people at 69 like I was cooperating with the authorities, making a propaganda piece to smooth over the wound," Fairey said.
Fairey did not file a police report about the alleged attack. Instead, he briefly wrote on in a Thursday blog post on his Web site that "Copenhagen was a very, intense trip."
"Not everyone in Copenhagen was hospitable, but that deserves a longer and more thorough explanation and analysis that I will get to in the next couple days," he wrote.