Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano, David and Jonathan
Inkjet on watercolour paper
80 x 60 centimetres
This re-imagining of Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano's 1505-1510 painting, David and Jonathan was made when the terrorist organisation, I.S. (Islamic State), conquered large parts of Syria and Iraq. The reports in the media told of fleeing Iraqi soldiers discarding their uniforms and of captives who were beheaded.
The story of David and Goliath has often been painted, usually depicting the headless giant and the triumphant David in the immediate aftermath of the battle. Cima da Conegliano's treatment of the event is unusual: Michael Levey, writing about the painting in The National Gallery of London handbook on its collection, describes David as a 'slightly pudgy, rustic David, matter-of-factly toting Goliath's head, like a surreal carrier bag'.
The exaggerated arid, stony background was chosen because media reports about middle-eastern conflicts often feature a barren landscape, but the typical Australian suburban McMansions were included as a commentary on the shock of the Australian public about Australian jihadis joining the I.S. struggle, and that the distance of tranquil suburbia from violent world events is no longer guaranteed.
Cima da Conegliano, David and Jonathan: The National Gallery, London