Maharaja of Skup
56 x 42cm, oil on board
A painting inspired by a moustache. Seeing the sitter’s moustache linked him in my mind to a Maharaja I had seen in a 19th century Indian Court painting by Chotu. I was intrigued to know whether I could achieve a successful Occidental transcription of the painting, combining compositional elements of the original with contemporary references, exemplified by the form and fabric of the jacket. One element in the original painting remained a mystery to me throughout: the Maharajah held an object in his hands which one would assume to have significance to the sitter. Yet to me, as uninformed viewer, it possessed an enigmatic presence, without ever revealing what it was. The same can be said of the Maharaja of Skup, few people but the sitter understand the significance of what his hands rest upon.
(Shown as part of the BP Portrait Award 2002)