Hyperallergic, “An Anarchist Illustrator Looks to Radical Histories to Fight Fascism”

N.O. Bonzo’s illustrations, murals, and literature build on radical art traditions, addressing relations of labor and identity in local communities and protest movements.

By Billy Anania, October 19, 2021

Anarchist illustrator N.O. Bonzo produces decentralized media in a highly bureaucratic cultural landscape. Their illustrations, murals, and literature emerge in unexpected places, from the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the far ends of Reddit and Twitter, addressing relations of labor and identity in the workplace and on the streets.

Growth and care are central themes that manifest in bodies made of leaves, workers tilling the earth, and black bloc protestors breaking police lines. Each artwork sends a clear, bold message with luminous imagery against black backdrops. Detailed figurations of families and comrades appear energetic yet intimate, occasionally juxtaposed with destroyed cop cars and smashed Nazi regalia. 

Channeling monochromatic designs of early 20th-century political cartoons and woodcuts, Bonzo builds on radical traditions with graffiti elements, union symbols, queer erotica, and everyday people living under police and border surveillance. Printmaking allows the artist to reproduce and distribute their art quickly and across an array of media (e.g., posters, banners, clothing, and stickers), reflecting a desire to break what they call “little fiefdoms of privatized technical knowledge.” 

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