Some genius named Jeff Bennett has unleashed the full force of the Dark Side on the Painter of Light’s treacly, bucolic world in a new series called “Wars on Kinkade.”
At the time of his death in 2012, Thomas Kinkade was the most collected living artist in America, with an estimated one in 20 homes owning one of his original paintings. Apparently this made Darth Vader very jealous and angry, so he sicked his automaton army on Kinkade’s cutesy compositions.
In Bennett’s improvements on Kinkade’s paintings, the Imperial Star Destroyer looms among lavender clouds. Songbirds flee its sinister vibes. AT-ATs stalk over a sweet babbling brook, while a Stormtrooper greets his friend riding a Dewback at the door of his cozy cottage. Soon, the cottage is spitting flames. Heavily armed troopers crouch in perfectly pruned rose bushes. Later, they’re all dead at the hands of a drooling Rancor, who hulks behind a white picket fence.
Joan Didion once criticized Kinkade’s work by saying, “It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.”
In Bennett’s revisions, this fire has spread to the cottage’s roof.
It may be that Kinkade’s saccharine work was really a cover-up for his own Dark Side: He reportedly had habits of cursing and heckling other artists and performers, and enjoyed ritual territory marking through urination. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2006 that Kinkade once peed on a Winnie the Pooh figure at Disneyland, saying “This one’s for you, Walt.”
Often dismissed as a maker of mass-produced kitsch, mall art, or chocolate box art, Kinkade proclaimed in a 2001 interview, “I really am the most controversial artist in the world.”
There was always something missing from his work, and Bennett has made clear that that something was an invasion by forces of evil from a galaxy far, far away.