In 2013 I continued the idea I used in 2012’s 20×20 show at Access Space in Sheffield, UK, and created another 20 x 20 mosaic. It’s entitled “The Feeding of the Four Hundred (The Black Flag of Freedom)” which is a reference of to “The 400”, the name for an oligarchy that ruled ancient Athens, also the name coined for a New York social élite in the 19th century, and the same name was used for a Colombian drug cartel in the late 20th century.
The red and black are symbolic of blood and oil and it’s a picture of Stalky Ringbits with an eye patch. The black flag is traditional to pirates and also jihadists, but red and black are also the colours used by anarcho-syndicalists, often used by modern pacifist-type anarchists rather than the old school bomb-throwing type. The title is also a paraphrase of “The Feeding of the Five Thousand” after both the bible story and the album by anarchist band Crass. The whole work is a mixture of references about the continuing war in the Middle East waged by western powers to control oil-rich countries and the corporate élite. At the time I was making it, the US and UK were squaring up to invade Syria, but were both foiled by their own democratic processes.
The paint drips on the side of the work are a small homage to friend and fellow artist, Richard Bartle, who created a series of “Oil Paintings” back in 2002. The series is a critique of the oil industry and on each one he left one edge with paint drips visible.
I am not a painter, although I sometimes use paint. In fact, I don’t think of myself as a specific medium artist, more a media artist in that I use whichever medium I feel is appropriate for the work. I used paint for this because I wanted it to look like “proper” art and the red paint makes quite convincing blood spots. The additional detail that the paint and the texture of the cardboard add is subtlely satisfying, even though the basic design is a very low resolution digital image.
I like the limitation of the 20 x 20 grid and I might make some more of these.