Swedish artist gets green light to use painted self-portrait on driver’s license


A Swedish artist has been given the go-ahead to use a painted self-portrait as the photo on his driver’s license after authorities thought the superrealistic picture came from a camera, not a brush.

Fredrik Saeker, 29, wanted to see if his work was good enough to pass for a snapshot, so when his driver’s license was nearing its renewal date, he printed out and submitted a photo of one of his self-portraits.

“I’ve always been interested in painting and in pushing the border between painting and photography,” Saeker said Wednesday.

Saeker said he chose a painting of himself where he looked “a bit tired and worn,” since he didn’t know anyone who is happy with how they look on their license.

Peter Ranki, a spokesman for the Swedish Transport Agency, told daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter that Saeker could use the license, but that he “really wouldn’t recommend people doing this.”

“We have examined the original documents and compared them with his previous driving license. The picture we have received looks like any other photo, so we have had no reason to question it,” he said.

The painting’s title, “This is not me,” alludes to Belgian painter Rene Magritte’s painting “The Treachery of Images,” in which “This is not a pipe” is written in French below the image of a pipe. “The basic idea is to question what is fictive and what is true, and if the truth really matters,” Saeker said. “People in my family have suffered from conditions that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease and strokes, so I know that human perception can be changed or corrupted in a matter of seconds.”