Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Coign of Vantage
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 67.5 centimetres
Dutch born, English Victorian artist, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, is noted for his depictions of languorous faux Roman women, who are typically draped in loose fitting robes, and who purposelessly lounge about in marble clad villas. I don't remember the precise reason why I chose to re-imagine his painting, Coign of Vantage, but it became clear when the trio of figures on the parapet had been prepared that I had no clue where to go with the project -- until I decided to test the idea of the group gazing down upon a veiled female figure.
The unsettling presence of this figure subverts the languid, innocuous atmosphere of Alma-Tadema's picture in a way that challenges its purpose; to discretely titillate the male viewers' dream of an exotic time and place with available women. The veiled figure could also represent current cultural debates in Western societies about that symbol of chastity, the burka.