Clockwork kings II


Oil on canvas: 73cm x 92cm x 4cm
Fine Belgian linen canvas 170
Signed and dated by the artist (reverse)
Catalogue reference: CK-jj024

The Clockwork King, an analogous phrase for the modern dictator, autocrat or self-elected chief. This work explores the many facets, characteristics and questions that surround the desire for power and the lengths individuals will go to to gain and retain it. Manifesting these conundrums in the form of a plastic, clockwork Knick-knack.

See DESCRIPTION below for more information about this work and artist’s notes.


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A work that puts the narcissistic king (in the form of a clockwork toy) firmly at the centre of attention. Wind him up and watch him go. One tireless direction until he falls off the edge of the table (self destructing like a lemming off the cliff). The figure displays a majestic lack of empathy, inflated sense of self-importance and a need for excessive admiration all heavily accentuated in the composition by the spectator’s low angle of view.

Artists notes
Kings have always had a penchant for tall pointy things—from castles and crowns to swords. Here the crown is depicted routed to the kings head, alluding to the fact that this is a mask he has no intention of removing. The only point of his crown we see in full is the small frontal lobe. A limp and flaccid appendage, reflecting the reality of his testosterone-driven, yet functional impotence towards the population he supposedly represents.

The thirst for power narrative is further told in the crown base (shown here more prominently than the truncated apexes of the crown), a simple ring or ‘halo’ which illustrates his endless desire to convert his kingly status into that of a deity.

This mark has been adopted by numerous institutions and organisations, but is perhaps most commonly associated as a symbol of royalty especially with the French monarchy since the 12 Century.

Finally, the figure’s mix of cartoon, clown-like characteristics (including the powdered nose and application of rouge, common in 17th and 18th Century European nobility) and grotesque features is carefully chosen—expertly rendered to mix the pompous absurdity of the power-hungry, and the darkly damaging consequences to societies that such self-interested decision-making and policies can cause.

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