The Ambassadors
The Ambassadors
2014, revised 2016
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 80 centimeters

The Ambassadors, Hans Holbein's exquisite 1533 portrait of a couple of powerful men captures the political and intellectual world these men inhabit. The backgound features a rich green patterned material and the shelf the men lean against hold the objects that defined the scientific and artistic knowledge of Europe at the time. These men haven't stinted on expensive clothes either, satin cloth and fur exude a quality that only the most powerful could afford.

The men in this reimagining downplay their wealth, much like technocrats such as Mark Zuckerberg with his uniform of a colourless t-shirt these guys like to appear casual. Their clothes mask a reality of concentrated power, a flat screen TV on the wall plays news footage of U.S. president Donald Trump at an international conference, the iMac computer shows the Facebook login page, on the table is a high-end digital camera and a copy of Wired magazine has a cover story about the optomistic new future of robotics and artificial intelligence. There is one constant however; the anamorphic skull sitting at the bottom of the composition is there to remind us of our mortality and that material wealth is ultimately meaningless when we are dust.

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein : The National Gallery, London