Fan Art Reimagines the World’s Dictators

Apr 07, 2014 at 3:21 PM ET

Considering that George W. Bush was never known as an incredible diplomat, the president’s Saturday unveiling of The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy—his new portrait series about world leaders he met during his two terms in office—is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Thankfully, it’s not nude selfies, and it’s a huge step up from his portrait of presidential pooch Barney. The collection of 24 paintings is meant to inform about the relationships the 43rd president (FYI, if you forgot, he signs his works “43”) made on the “world stage,” and the exhibit also includes photographs and personal recollections. The series is on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, through June 3.

No time or interest in visiting Texas, you say? No problem. Bush has some major competition in the world leader category of fan art, and we found a few examples that put these despots in a whole new light.

Bashar al-Assad—President, Syria

It’s been all eyes on the Assads for the last few years, as the civil war in Syria rages on. There’s no shortage of fan art dedicated to both Bashar and his wife, Asma, but this piece combining the two is definitely one of our faves.

Assad is the most recent addition to the “dictators” collection of Amsterdam-based artist Michele Boccamazzo, who mixes pen, ink and watercolors to capture the bad boys in a powdery palette of light shades. Said Boccamozzo: “Some of them are just born with a silver spoon in their mouth, some believe in their vision of a better world and some are just status seeker (or social climber) with a smart politic career.”

His dictatorial visions are available for sale for as little as $115, and would look great in the downstairs bathroom.

Vladimir Putin—President, Russia

With the Olympics and the whole Crimea debacle, Putin puns are everywhere: There’s a Putin butt plug and a series of romantic fan fiction called “Tremblin in the Kremlin,” as well as a wide variety of photoshopped Putins kissing guys. But these artistic renderings are actually creative and nicely done.

Kim Jong-un—Supreme Leader, North Korea

Nothing like a supreme leader riding a winged dolphin into a purple sky. Realism at its finest.

Moammar Gadhafi—Dictator, Libya 

Although Gadhafi is gone from this world, his memory lives on through beer labels and Looney Tunes memes. We’re almost positive that it is exactly what he would have wanted for his legacy.

Xi Jinping—General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

This is the man who coined the term “Chinese Dream.” And this is it.

Hugo Chavez—President, Venezuela 

Far from the snark pervasive in other leaders’ fan art, Chavez is pretty revered in the works we found. Check it out: That’s his face painted on this woman as part of an art exhibition.