President Trump finally has a monument in Slovenia, his wife’s home country.
A wooden statue, nearly 25 feet tall, has suddenly popped up on private land in the village of Sela pri Kamniku, about 20 miles northeast of the capital, Ljubljana.
The president may not like it, though.
The statue depicts Trump in a blue suit and a bright red tie, standing with a fierce look in his blue eyes, his right arm raised straight up in the air with a clenched fist.
With a square head and jaw, the Trump statue looks almost like a Christmas nutcracker, or maybe a Presidential Pez. It also appears to be a work in progress, with an extension ladder still propped up against the statue’s head Wednesday and scrap lumber piled nearby.
It sits across from the local fire station, next to a bright red fire hydrant at a small intersection in a hilly village, where some residents commute to work in the capital.
The man who designed it, who was interviewed on local television station Kanal A but not identified by name, said it was meant to show Trump in the style of Superman, or the Statue of Liberty.
The image may not be entirely flattering. The artist, who was helped in the construction by a group of local young people, said in the TV interview that the statue was “a provocation, because the world is full of populism.”
Igor Omerza, a former member of the Slovenian parliament and an author who has written about Melania Trump, spotted the statue Wednesday. He said it could be interpreted many ways — the raised hand of Lady Liberty or the iron fist of a populist dictator.
Perhaps, he said, it is a sign of Slovenia’s “love-hate” relationship with Trump.
“Trump is always in the news.” Omerza said. But, he added, “I don’t believe the young people in this village who built this are in favor of him.”
Trump is a polarizing figure in Slovenia. Many people admire him, especially because his wife has become Slovenia’s best-known celebrity. The statue is said to be looking in the direction of Sevnica, the first lady’s home village, which she left as a young woman to pursue a modeling career.
Earlier this summer, a 9-foot-high statue of Melania Trump appeared near Sevnica, carved by a local artisan using a chain saw. It depicts her wearing the blue dress she wore on Trump’s Inauguration Day, waving with a chunky left arm.
The sculptor, Ales “Maxi” Zupevc, was commissioned by Brad Downey, a Kentucky-born conceptual artist. He is known for his public pranks, but insisted in an interview with The Washington Post in July that the statue is a serious tribute to the first lady.
The statue was widely panned as looking like a “Smurfette” or a “scarecrow.”
“I can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance,” Downey told Agence France-Presse, but he called the statue “absolutely beautiful.”
Omerza said many other Slovenians take a much dimmer view of the president — including, it seems, the owner of the land where the new presidential statue sits.
“They did not tell me what they were doing, and in October I will force them to take the statue down,” he told local television.
But for a while, at least, the statue will stand as Slovenia’s Trump tower.