Abe, 2013, Oil on Panel, 33x28cm
Shinzō Abe, the current Prime Minister of Japan is a key global leader who is perhaps under represented in western media. He leads the world's third largest economy, has implemented economic reform so notable as to be termed Abenomics, overseen an increase in defence spending and the worst natural disaster in recent years, with the 2011 tsunami. The geopolitical implications of his leadership are important and numerous yet his image is rarely seen in the media. The peculiarity of a significant international figure whose image is for the most part unknown is the motivation behind this painting.
The subject matter and composition of the image unsubtly tell of the mass media origins. Abe's dress and posture suggest a political nature while close scrutiny reveals the images origin due to the kanji characters on the microphone. The close cropping of the image has a slightly claustrophobic air, especially notable with the fraction of wrist visible in the upper right corner. The two figures in the background compound this quality, adding to the overcrowded picture plane. A slow glazing process has been used in the production of this painting, leading to a greater richness of colour than could have been present in the original, as well as a photographically flat and fairly glossy surface. A slowly painted, carefully considered image of a figure far less recognisable than the rest of the political series begs the question; 'Why consider, scrutinise and decipher the image only once it has been painted?'