Xi & Obama, 2013, Oil on Panel, 35x30cm
The two men depicted in this painting are representatives of the two most powerful nations to exist in the contemporary era. The USA and China, represented by Barack Obama and Xi Jinping respectively, constitute the world's two largest economies, militaries and exporters. The power games at play with the meeting of these two men are as significant as they could be in a geopolitical sense. The USA's idolisation of free-market capitalism, made explicit in the notion of the 'American Dream', does not mix with China's brand of communism, yet the two superpowers remain allies. Many books, articles and essays have been, and continue to be written around analysis of the power relations between these two states and this painting was not made to add to the pile. Rather, it is an inquiry into the alteration of perception dependant on the medium.
The fact the image is painted rather than a digital reproduction in a newspaper leads to a symbolic reading of the subject matter. In the context of a paper, the image evidences a significant meeting that took place in contemporary international politics. Yet when painted, the image becomes metaphorical and the viewer is able to read a myriad of alternate meanings and suppositions into the poses and expressions of the two presidents. It may seem to be common sense that the format alters the reception of an image, though the painting seeks to enquire into the extent of this assumption by faithfully adhering to the original image thus making the two formats visually uniform.