About a decade after Jim Carrey was “spirited into the forest by a sprite,” he emerged, reborn, as a painter, a pursuit by which he’s been consumed for nearly seven years. Now, he’s positioning himself as the next chronicler of a distinct, and distinctly disturbing, moment in American history, submitting his bid to be the official portrait artist for the reality television host turned president, Donald Trump.
In a tweet posted Thursday, Carrey wrote, “Dear Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery @NPG, I know it’s early but I’d like to submit this as the official portrait of our 45th President, Donald J. Trump. It’s called, 'You Scream. I Scream. Will We Ever Stop Screaming?'” Attached is a grotesque illustration of the president, bare-chested in a fuzzy blue robe, one finger on his right nipple, holding, in his other hand, an ice cream scoop over a bowl of chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries—a nod to that singular Trumpian anecdote in which the president receives more ice cream than any of his dinner guests. (It cannot be coincidental that said bowl of ice cream looks remarkably like a pair of disembodied breasts. A master of subtlety, our Carrey.)
One could certainly do worse as a souvenir of a distinct political moment. Carrey actually has a significant catalog of satirical works featuring the president, if the National Portrait Gallery wants to see a more complete portfolio before coming to a decision. There’s the painting of Trump as a swamp monster, bathing in the toxic runoff of politics; there’s Trump as sickly green Wicked Witch of the West, surrounded by flying monkeys; and, in a particularly N.S.F.W. take, there’s Trump depicted in flagrante delicto with Stormy Daniels, the sensitive parts censored by a presidential seal. Those in Trump’s inner circle haven’t been immune from Carrey’s paintbrush, either: Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. (impaled on elephant tusks in a reference to their penchant for big-game hunting), Steve Bannon, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders have all been given artistic makeovers.
The National Portrait Gallery, apparently lacking quite the same subversive spirit as the National Park Service, has yet to respond to Carrey’s overture. So for now, it’s left to us to imagine how a Carrey portrait of Trump might look next to Kehinde Wiley’s much lauded portrait of former president Barack Obama.