I first came across the work of Alexia Sinclair on the cover of a Photoshop Magazine. Her technique with the program is extraordinary. I found myself gazing deeper and deeper into each of the works; wanting to soak up everything they had to offer. They are rich in symbolism, pertaining to the particular historical figure being portrayed.
The exhibition is at the Art Space Gallery in the City and is a collection of images from 2005-2010. They depict 24 male and female monarchs and famous figures from throughout history. Each has been thoroughly researched and portrayed in exquisite detail. Sinclair has chosen to particularly highlight their flamboyancies; building a narrative within the work which will be role-played by her character.
Her portraits are composed of sometimes 300 different transparent layers. All of these overlap to give an astounding depth to the works.
Her use of lighting in both the digital and photographic aspects of her work is exemplary.
Pope Alexander VI – The Borgia Pope
“Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all” Pope Leo X said of Alexander Borgia
Rodrigo Borgia was one of the most controversial Renaissance popes; so much so that his surname became a by word for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era. Pope Alexander was famous for falsely accusing wealthy merchants and landowners of crimes to acquire their land and wealth.
He was so hated that rumours abounded about his character. Sinclair has constructed her works visual narrative from the hearsay perpetuated at the time.
One famous account is of an orgy his illegitimate son hosted in the papal palace. It was nick named the Banquet of Chestnuts. According to the account prostitutes and guests crawled naked among lit candelabra with chestnuts on the floor.
Another legend surrounding this character is of a hollow ring and goblet that he used to poison his enemies.
At once we notice the piercing eyes of the pope. In his wrinkled hands he grasps a smoking chalice and one can clearly see the rings on his fingers. On the table are a handful of chestnuts with some upon an ornate set of scales. Apparently the ore chestnuts that people were able to grasp the more gifts they were to receive. Pope Alexander’s beard is wiry and white which is complete contrast to his scarlet headdress and cloak. Two candles burn brightly; the smoke from them mixes with the smoke from the chalice and fills the room. Sinclair is suggesting that the facts surrounding this character may be lost in the mists of time but why should that get in the way of a good story.