Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rock & Roll Last Supper

Rock & Roll Last Supper

Paul Karslake, 52 year old British artist, has created many pieces of art in many different mediums. His first and arguably most famous piece is a painting of Keith Richards, commissioned by Richards’s wife in 1998. It is said that this painting was the inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean after Johnny Depp saw the painting in the Richards household. Karslake has also done a number of religious works and he describes himself as a “modern surrealist.” One of these religious paintings is called “Rock & Roll Last Supper” and is one of Karslake’s more controversial pieces.

Paul has received many awards for his paintings and has also been a part of many exhibitions, including many solo exhibitions. His works can be found almost anywhere, including guitars, clubs, Gordon Ramsay restaurants, planes, and houses, as well as many public museums. He is an active fundraiser for numerous charities and he prides himself on being able to imitate the styles of his favorite artists including Arcim Boldo and Salvatore Dali. His paintings often feature issues such as animal rights and environmental issues, but he also attempts to capture timeless icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Keith Richards, the Kray Twins, and his brother-in-law, Ronnie Wood, who is included in “Rock & Roll Last Supper.”

The painting features a number of rock & roll icons and is set in what appears to be an old, dark mansion. The icons are placed around a central table, much like Da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper.” Some of the more notable figures include Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger as Christ, and Elvis Presley as Judas Iscariot. Other than the rock legends, other things that are noticeable are a skull on the table, multiple bottles of alcohol, cigarettes, two guitars, and a deck of playing cards. These do not seem to have much significance other than to add to the overall mood and setting of the picture.

According to the author himself, the painting was created to be “a vehicle
for me to paint all my favorite music characters in one room!” The painting has created a bit of controversy among more conservative churches who feel that suggesting Mick Jagger is synonymous with Jesus Christ is blasphemy, punishable by an eternity in hell. Other churches have simply decided to ignore the piece, saying that, due to reasons including the number of people around the table, it simply was not meant to be a religious piece and, according to the artist, they are right. Despite the obvious similarities to the original “Last Supper” painting and other interpretations, it was never meant to be a religious piece. Karslake jokes, “The reason there are 14 people is because I can’t count! No, really, it was because I wanted 14 so that people would ask that very question! It really is not a religious piece so the rules do not apply.”

Although the image immediately evokes strong responses from churches and other religious followers, Paul Karslake’s painting “Rock & Roll Last Supper” is not intended to be a representation of the Biblical event at all. However, it does immediately force discussion and debate from all sides, debates ranging from whom each of the characters are to what the religious and theological meanings behind the painting are. One thing is for sure, whether it was intended to be controversial or not, Paul Karslake’s painting causes tidal waves of controversy throughout conservative churches and rock and roll lovers alike.

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