Art-emis – 1996
Art-emis is based on Diana Princess of Wales, and was painted in 1996, eighteen months before her tragic death. This prescient image of Princess Diana’s pixelated, or fugitive face, needs no clarification for purposes of identification. She was the most-imaged person of her time, and merely her earrings, neck and hairstyle identified her. It is possible to resolve her distorted portrait through squinting at the image.
My painting fused the contemporary real-life fairy tale Princess Diana with the Roman Goddess Diana who was derived and adopted from Artemis (Potnia Theron), the Greek Pagan Goddess of the hunt, and of birth. My Artemis wears the trophies of the victorious hunt from her ears — golden testicles. Artemis was a virgin Goddess, but Princess Diana, in reality gave birth to her sons William and Harry. And although they weren’t virgin births, her exalted status as the mother of Kings, puts her in the same special class as Jesus’ mother Mary. Prince Charles, like Joseph (Pandira) played but an insignificant part.
Almost deified in life, her exceptionally tragic death assured her immortality — and Diana’s dynastic heirs will perpetuate the line of Windsor and additionally, ascend the throne as — the King of Australia — unless in the interim, we sever the royal umbilicus and become a republic. It isn’t that long ago that the English Princes
(like the Catholic Popes), believed that they, like demi-gods, were Jehovah’s representatives on earth.
Ironically Princess Diana, the cult-of-beauty Goddess met her early demise by being hounded, stalked, and effectively hunted to her accidental death — by a scurrilous paparazzi. They were hell-bent on pictorially representing her to a very receptive worldwide audience, in her every living — and dying moment. Photographs of her in extremis, before dying in the car crash, had to be suppressed from publication. It must be emphasized that Diana was complicit in creating her own cult. Although I constructed this pixellated image without the aid of a computer, this technique had been derived from Salvador Dali. He had used it in the 1950s. Her diadem was a construct. I placed the Star of Africa centrally as a personal territorial prop. It was the largest stone cut from South Africa’s Cullinan diamond and the largest ever (until Then) discovered. The tiara’s band was decorated with an invented Grecian frieze, incorporating the swastika symbol referencing the Windsor’s (previously the Saxe-Coburg Gotha’s) not-so-remote family connections to the Nazi SS.
My Mythologies exhibition, which included Art-emis happened to coincide with an official Royal visit of Princess Diana to Sydney. My friend and agent Robert Cochrane, contacted the Sydney Morning Herald, the local Sydney rag, to offer the image as a spectacular and very topical front page for their Good Weekend supplement. They got quite excited, came and photographed the painting and interviewed me. But the idea was canned at the last moment by the editor who thought it would be somewhat too risqué to portray her Royal Highness in this unflattering manner. Both the SMH and I missed a memorable opportunity.