Will Smith Slaps Putin Sideways In New Pro-Ukraine Street Art

Will Smith’s infamous Oscars slap has been recreated in street art form in Los Angeles.

But instead of comedian Chris Rock receiving the sharp end of the actor’s palm, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin who is being knocked sideways by the “Ali” star in the latest artistic show of solidarity with Ukraine.

“Keep Ukraine out your fucking mouth!!!” Smith is depicted as saying in the piece, a reworking of the actor’s comment to Rock’s joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Todd Goodman, a California-based ESL teacher and fine artist whose street art moniker is 1GoodHombre, painted the piece in the mural-filled Fame Yard parking lot on Melrose Avenue with Ukrainian artists Liza Onatsko, Alex Pilkevych, Sergey Podgurskiy and George Zhyvotovskyi. The space is curated by street artist Corie Mattie, who went viral during the coronavirus pandemic with her LA Hope Dealer project. The anti-Putin mural was finished Sunday.

Goodman wanted to use the scandal surrounding Smith’s slap “to draw attention to this obviously more important subject of war, and the humanitarian crisis facing Ukrainians,” he told HuffPost on Saturday.

“Given the proximity to Hollywood, I wanted to use this moment, this town, this ridiculous situation, to draw attention to the war, with the hopes of not only raising awareness but also to raise money for humanitarian aid,” he explained, noting how a QR code next to the mural directs people to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

The anti-Putin artwork aims to raise money for relief efforts in Ukraine, said artist Todd Goodman.
The anti-Putin artwork aims to raise money for relief efforts in Ukraine, said artist Todd Goodman.

“If people could only learn to channel their emotions through creative expression, through art, through language, instead of resorting to violence to achieve their goals, the world would be a much better place,” the artist added. “Make art, not war. My paintings, like a comedian’s words are not violence, they could never hurt another person, only maybe a person’s feelings, and we have ways of dealing with hurt feelings that do not require violence.”

Goodman first took his art from the canvas to the streets in 2020 after becoming angered by the police killing of George Floyd and tensions surrounding the then-upcoming presidential election.

“As the city of LA was quickly boarded up, COVID keeping people off the streets, there was a nearly infinite amount of space and freedom to cover the city in street art,” he recalled. “I had a lot of shit to say, and there was plenty of time and space to say it.”

The 1GoodHombre alter ego is a Spanish play on his surname and a direct response to Donald Trump’s disgusting “bad hombres” criticism of Mexican immigrants.

“I was thoroughly insulted by that, as a human being, but also as the husband of a Spanish-speaking immigrant,” he said. “To counter that kind of hate or evil in the world, I hope that this moniker inspires people to understand that all it takes is one good hombre, one good person to stand up against evil, against hate, to create a better world, and any one of us can choose to be that person every single day.”

Goodman’s true identity remained unknown until last month when he “decided to come out into the light in support of Ukraine,” he told HuffPost, for an Associated Press article about pro-Ukraine street art and his portrayal of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, including this one of him touting machine guns with the message “Fuck Putin.”

Now? He just hopes the new mural provides “a moment of catharsis for the people of Ukraine or anyone who is hurting or feeling victimized by Putin’s invasion.”

“I’ve had that feeling of catharsis once in my life, where a piece of art just cleansed my soul, as a Jew watching Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds,’” he said. “God, after all those years of hearing stories from family members who were survivors, watching documentaries on the Holocaust and ‘Schindler’s List,’ finally, we were strong, we were fighting back, we were kicking the shit out of Nazis.”

“I’ve never had that feeling before until that moment, and it was absolutely fucking glorious!” he remembered. “That is the feeling that I want to inspire in people: ‘No, fuck that guy, we’re not gonna take this shit lying down! No! You will not oppress us!’”

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