World leaders’ handshakes

The artistic work by Thomas Kuijpers is a series of drawings representing world leaders’ handshakes. Among them, Castro and Obama, Kennedy and Clinton, Maduro and Morales.

Gesture is the artistic work by Thomas Kuijpers, a series of drawings representing world leaders’ handshakes. The project consists in the analysis of some, apparently simple, gestures that the Dutch artist strips from the original context and turns into illustrations (around one hundred in the book Gesture, pubished last year by Metronom Books). What Kuijpers wants to understand is the hidden meaning behind the handshakes, comparing them with the results of academic research on communicative signals in this kind of gesture. Coming from press photographs, the shots became thin line-illustrations, among which we find the hands belonging to Castro and Obama, to Kennedy and Clinton, to Maduro and Morales.

The visual artist asked many body language experts all over the world an interpretation of the frames, giving no other information than the drawing. The purpose was, in fact, to reveal surprising results about the meeting of world leaders: those who appeared friendly in the photograph could easily reveal a different feeling through the way they shaked their hands.

Some of the experts answered that the informations were too fragmental and that was impossible to say something about it. But for the artist, the little context left to interpret this small moment of time is exactly what the research is about. Over one of the illustrations, the one representing the handshake between Angela Merkel and Maḥmūd Abbās, the expert Thomas Kuijpers wrote: “The left hand might be feminine, looking at the way it’s posed. The right hand gently grips to the left, but not too hard. No squeezing, but not weak either. The left hand surrenders and gets shaken gently. Formal, but very friendly, maybe even flirtatious”.

Thomas Kuijpers
Published by:
Metronom Books
Design :
Teresa Piardi-Maxwell Studio

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