Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 80 centimetres
Hans Holbein's 1533 portrait of two men of high social status, seen with an assortment of objects that represented scientific knowledge and the arts, has a gravity that I sought to re-purpose for this re-imagining of The Ambassadors. These contemporary ambassadors inhabit a world of ubiquitous social media, the cult of celebrity, and technological progress in the form of gadgets while bathed in a sterile electronic glow.
This was a difficult composition to manage, with the stacking of objects between and above the 'ambassadors' potentially creating an awkward symmetry. That had to be broken by slightly off-centering the arrangement of the objects and through the use of the subtle visual integration offered by the boldly patterned wallpaper. The pleasant harmony of Holbein's picture is gone, but the pictorial messiness of this re-imagining probably better symbolises the uncertain, modern cultural environment.
For people who like brand awareness, there is the notorious Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus video on the Samsung TV, an iMac computer with the FaceBook login page, a Cannon DSLR camera, a copy of Wired magazine with a cover story about robots, and off course, Holbein's anamorphic skull with its portent of mortality.