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Posts shared hundreds of times on Twitter allegedly show some world leaders, like French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gazing at paintings of skulls and mythical creatures. Soon, these photos sparked accusations that world leaders were admiring satanic artwork at a NATO summit in Spain in June 2022. Not true. In reality, the images have been manipulated. The original shots were all taken at the Prado Museum in Madrid. The artist who manipulated the images said they were meant as an “artistic experiment” to critique power.
“During the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain: Globalist leaders visited an art museum – take a good look at the art in question!“, claim several publications published on Twitter (here and here), on July 2.
The message is accompanied by several photos showing world leaders like Emmanuel Macron, looking at a painting of a figure holding a decapitated infant in his arms, or Justin Trudeau standing next to paintings of skulls and bones.
The images were shared in similar posts in English and Korean.
They emerged on social media after world leaders gathered in the Spanish capital Madrid last June for a NATO summit focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, the photos were manipulated and were actually all taken at the Prado Museum, which world leaders visited during a gala dinner on June 29.
Photo Emmanuel Macron
A reverse image search on Google can find the original shots of Emmanuel Macron in different articles. We see the French president in front of the painting “The three Graces” painted by Peter Paul Rubens.
The caption for the photo, in Spanish, reads: “President Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at the Prado Museum.The snap is credited to Spanish news agency EFE.
Below is a comparison of a screenshot of the doctored photo of Emmanuel Macron (left) and the original photo (right).
The original photo of Justin Trudeau at the Prado gala dinner was taken by AFP photographer Bertrand Guay.
We see the Canadian leader standing in front of various portraits.
Below is a screenshot comparing the doctored photo of Justin Trudeau (left) and the original photo (right).
NATO member photo
The photograph representing the world leaders of NATO posing with, in the background, a mythical creature wearing a gas mask has also been manipulated.
The original snapshot was also taken by AFP journalist Bertrand Guay.
Below is a new comparison of a screenshot of the doctored photo of NATO member leaders (left) and the original photo (right).
Meanwhile, reverse image searches found two of the artworks used in the doctored photos on the Virtual Gallery website, owned by Spanish artist Ramón Llansola.
“Ramón Llansola created ART OF THE CHAOS in 1994. Influenced by surrealism and industrial music, he began to create works using materials and waste: scrap metal, animal bones and skulls, paint and aerosol debris“, can we read in the profile of the artist.
Contacted by AFP, Ramón Llansola said he himself manipulated the photographs as part of a “artistic experience“.
“It was not meant to deceive anyone. It was an artistic experiment to provoke criticism of power and awaken people’s consciousness.“, he explained.
“I would like to apologize to the great artists for having borrowed their place in the Prado Museum. I’m sorry that the intent of my experience was misinterpreted.”
He also clarified that his artwork was made from waste and recycled materials, as part of a project on the decline of capitalism and consumerism.
The page DeviantArt by Ramón Llansola has several other photos corresponding to the works of the doctored photos, as here.